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Early start to Black Friday deals have holiday shoppers going all night

Black Friday shoppers make it an all-nighter

Door busters lacked the usual mobs early on Black Friday on Nov. 25, 2016. Many shoppers began their holiday by late Thursday, instead.
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Door busters lacked the usual mobs early on Black Friday on Nov. 25, 2016. Many shoppers began their holiday by late Thursday, instead.

By the time Lizard Thicket opened at 6 a.m. Friday, a line of more than 200 people snaked down the sidewalk and around the corner.

“The first people slept in their car and got up and started lining up at 4 o’clock,” store manager Lindsey Forrest said.

The women’s boutique handed out free swag bags to the first 100 Black Friday customers, but only 75 at a time could shop.

As Santa Claus greeted the early birds, some were lucky enough to find gift cards. The store gave away $500 worth in its first Christmas since opening at the Shoppes at River Crossing in May.

“I’ve fallen in love with Macon,” Forrest said. “Shoppers are so sweet and so kind.”

Ten minutes before Macy’s at Macon Mall opened at 6 a.m. Friday, not a soul was waiting at the doors.

A few people walked up as clerks started unlocking the doors, but there was no mad dash of Black Friday shoppers at the Eisenhower Parkway store.

It seems the 5 p.m. opening on Thanksgiving Day lured folks away from the table to scarf up bargains, such as small appliances that would be free with a $10 mail-in rebate.

Heather Prevatt had little time to digest her meal before hitting toy stores at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Asked what drew her out on Thanksgiving, “Hey, a bunch of kids. You’ve just got to meet the requirements for the kids,” said Prevatt, of Villa Rica, who was in Macon visiting her son at college.

Before the sun came up, Prevatt was in line again at the Dry Falls Outfitters.

Abby Grinstead and Paige Kinsey ventured out from Warner Robins and arrived at about 5:30 a.m.

Grinstead, who began her shopping at 1 a.m. Friday, was first in line to get a free Dry Falls blanket.

About 75 people had gathered when the neon “open” sign lit up, but only 40 got the free gift.

Dozens of people also stood outside B. Turner’s, which opened up a few minutes before 6 a.m.

Across town on Forsyth Road, the parking lot was virtually empty at Stein Mart, which had promised door-buster savings at 7 a.m.

A handful of people came in and fanned out to different departments.

Before 7:05 a.m., a store manager called out to other workers, “We’ve just sold the last TV.”

Like many other retailers, Stein Mart had holidays hours and opened on Thanksgiving from 5-11 p.m.

“I only got three hours sleep,” a weary-eyed clerk told another worker at the register.

Sales are expected to continue at some stores, such as Belk at the Shoppes at River Crossing, which advertised Black Friday deals through 10 p.m. Saturday.

Stacks of shoe boxes gradually shrank as the morning crowds devoured racks of doorbuster boots.

By midday at the outdoor mall off Riverside Drive near Interstate 75, parking spaces were a rare commodity as throngs of people meandered from store to store.

Traffic snarled on the northbound exit ramp heading to the shopping center.

Receipts will dictate whether Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year, but analysts are expecting a peak in online sales on Monday and another robust shopping day on Dec. 23.

Lizard Thicket advertised specials through Sunday, Forrest said, as she tugged at the sleeve of a $15 thermal tunic.

“As long as they last.”

Liz Fabian: 478-744-4303, @liz_lines

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