Christmas starts on Thanksgiving for some stores and shoppers

While most Middle Georgians were feasting with family Thursday, some saw a chance to get in extra shopping -- and others, by necessity, were there to serve them.

As Black Friday creeps over into Thanksgiving Thursday, more and more stores announced they were joining some restaurants in staying open on the holiday. Among the major retailers open locally was Bass Pro Shops, which has been open on Thanksgiving for about a decade.

Joshua and Kayla McCoy, of Macon, were among the thin crowd in Bass Pro Shops around lunchtime, toting their son Kiler, 1.

“We’re doing a lot of looking,” Joshua McCoy said. They’re not often in Bass Pro Shops, but decided to come browse for work clothes, he said. The boots he bought there a year ago are holding up well.

“We’re going to other stores, but I like Bass Pro,” Joshua McCoy said. “They’ve got good quality stuff.”

While there, they might also take Kiler to see Santa in the store, he said.

Thanksgiving isn’t as busy a shopping day as many others, but some parents do bring their children for a free picture with Santa, who was there 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Katherine White, Bass Pro operations manager.

Eighty-five employees were scheduled Thursday to handle shoppers, she said. That’s more than on a slow weekday, but only about two-thirds as many workers as a busy Saturday might see, White said.

For those who came in to work on the holiday, Bass Pro bought lunch from S&S Cafeteria.

“They were cooking for a lot of companies this morning,” White said.

Around 11 a.m. a few green-shirted employees at a time filed through to load paper plates with turkey, ham, dressing, macaroni and cheese, beans and rolls.

Mike Day, gifts and footwear manager, was among those who sat down to lunch at long tables in the break room. Bass Pro Shops wouldn’t allow interviews with any employees except managers.

“It’s delicious,” Day said, finishing off his meal with two chocolate-chip cookies. A four-year employee, he’s glad Bass Pro provided dinner, as it does for those who work other holidays, he said.

Apart from families bringing in children to see Santa, the Christmas rush had yet to arrive, Day said. Thus far the store’s most sought-after item was jeans, always popular and due to go on sale Friday, he said.

Out on the sales floor, Dan Staples and his wife Kim pushed a shopping cart full of clothes, many of them camouflage.

The Newton County residents said they began coming to Bass Pro Shops on Thanksgiving several years ago.

“Now we always do it,” he said.

“It’s the only store we’re going to,” she said.

Sometimes they had a holiday meal with relatives, but decided one year to check out Bass Pro instead -- and found good shopping, they said. Now it’s their local stop before heading out of town.

“We’re leaving here, and going to the hunting place,” he said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.