Thursday 'creep' may replace Friday madness

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Bealls store manager Jennifer Heath discusses Black Friday shopping. The store was extremely busy with their Thursday-evening start of the holiday shopping.

By Rachel Segura Journal staff writer

Stores in Cortez were abuzz with shoppers Friday morning. People were filling their carts with goodies but not with the usual commotion that Black Friday-goers may see. In fact, some places experienced a rush of customers for a minimal amount of time before returning to a typical day of retail.

IFA Country Stores opened at 7 a.m. Friday morning to a line of about 25 people. Cars were waiting in the parking lot at 6:45, but the rush only lasted around 45 minutes before tapering off, and a normal day of shopping prevailed.

Big R employees also were surprised to see fewer shoppers waiting at the doors at 6 a.m. As opposed to last year's turnout, they were slightly below what was expected. But the parking lot was packed at 8 a.m. and a steady stream of customers were happy to take part in the sales.

Jennifer Sutherland does not do Black Friday but she desperately needed a new pair of boots.

“I'm going to save $50 on new boots,” she said, showing off the pair she was currently wearing. Judging by the holes and the worn leather, she had hit the jackpot. Along with her boots, she found a couple of jackets, a few pairs of jeans and other clothing items that were too good a bargain to pass up.

“This is my last and only stop. I'm just here to get what I need.”

Also picking up essentials was Linda McCart. She and her husband came from Dove Creek to do a little shopping but they were not the first ones in the door.

“We slept in,” McCart said with a laugh. “This is the first year I got my husband to come out on Black Friday.”

The winning factor for David McCart was that he would be saving money. And even though one item always leads to another, they are all things the couple needs and will use. Although Linda is not an annual Black Friday shopper, she knows that when a good deal presents itself, she'd better take it. Her cart had three extra-large bags of bird seed at $6 off the regular price.

“With the shape of this economy, if you can save six bucks a sack it's worth it,” she said. “And we'll never stop feeding the birds. As long as they are around our home, we'll will buy seed for them.”

The shoppers in Big R may not be Black Friday experts but in this area, people seem to take on a more relaxed temperament. Not like the usual viral videos you see of large crowds and angry customers, Cortez experienced a much more mellow event.

However, a new trend in shopping could be coming our way. Walmart changed its hours for sales on Thanksgiving and Bealls opened for the first time this year on the holiday. Both stores saw a huge difference in customer intake between the Thanksgiving sales and the Black Friday sales.

Surprisingly, customers were more apt to shop Thanksgiving evening than one might expect.

Walmart held door busters at 8 and 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night and the swarm of people created a wall of bodies. An employee said it was impossible for people to move about comfortably but this morning it was relatively calm.

Jennifer Heath, the store manager of Bealls, said she had exactly 57 people waiting at the door Thanksgiving day. All four registers were open and ringing through sales for two hours straight. Heath said customers were very thankful they were open and were pleasant while shopping and waiting to check out, a far cry from what larger cities would experience.

“We had a fabulous turnout (on Thursday). Everything ran smoothly and they were very helpful to us as well,” Heath said. “We were so busy at the registers and we couldn't help them shop efficiently but they were able to find what they wanted.”

Friday was the complete opposite. Only 14 people were waiting outside of the store. This time around, Heath and her employees were able to help provide customer service more extensively. She was happy to slow down Friday morning to help accommodate some of her older customers, rather than overwhelm them.

It seems more stores may follow suit and open Thanksgiving day, a practice called the “Thanksgiving Creep.” Target stores opened at 9 p.m., three hours earlier than previous years. Employees for Target were not happy about the change and petitions have been started to keep the “creep” from ganging up on the holiday.

Cortez happily benefited from the change but if the trend persists, smaller businesses could be forced to take part.

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