MARIETTA — “Black Friday” may have to change its name to “Black Thursday” now that some big-box retailers plan to open on Thanksgiving Day.
Stores like Target and Walmart are starting their Black Friday sales on Thursday between 8 and 9 p.m., while others like Best Buy and Town Center Mall in Kennesaw will be open at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
Melisa Archie, an assistant manager at Best Buy in the Cumberland area, said gearing up for the three-day weekend of super sales is exciting.
“It’s long hours, but it’s a lot of fun,” she said.
Best Buy locations nationwide will offer deals like a Lenovo 15-inch laptop for $187.99, a Toshiba 14-inch touch laptop for $599.99 and a Lenovo 23-inch “All-In-One” computer for $599.99.
This is the second year in a row the store has opened at midnight Thanksgiving Day.
She also said in her nearly eight years with the company, she’s never seen crowds get out of hand.
“I’ve never come across a situation where it’s gotten rowdy,” she said. “We do a great job about planning for our crowd control and make sure we don’t have incidents like that.”
Randy Stuart, an assistant professor of marketing in Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business, is a Black Friday observer whose experience with shopping the day after Thanksgiving dates back to her childhood.
“Mom and dad got us up early and we went downtown,” she said. “The difference is that back in the day, Black Friday was really the beginning of the season, and there was that whole mindset of people getting into the holiday spirit.
“Now there’s this creep, if you will, where they put the holiday merchandise out in July. Customers say, ‘Don’t rush me,’ but once again, those same customers are shopping. Retailers aren’t stupid,” Stuart said.
Stuart also said the same thing in regards to stores opening Thanksgiving night.
“I talked about that in my class (Wednesday),” she said. “Nothing is sacred anymore. The retailers aren’t going to open those hours if it’s not good for their bottom line. If … the consumers thought it was so terrible, then they should stay home.”
Stuart said there are multiple varieties of shoppers today compared to years ago.
“There are people, like my older sister, who thrive on crowds and hubbub, and those like my mother who shopped out of a catalog,” she said. “It really depends on if you want to be out with the crowds.”
Stuart reminded customers to be safe and be nice to each other.
“People used to be respectful and courteous,” she said. “It would be nice if people remembered what the season was all about.”
Two Black Friday shoppers who have participated in the sales weekend since they were kids said they’ve never had any problems with angry customers.
“We’ve never even seen any fights,” Jennifer Martin of Marietta said. “Everybody is usually in a good mood.”
Stephanie Brice, 38, who lives in Hiram but shops in Cobb, said she thinks it’s because she gets to the stores so early.
“The people who are out that early are generally like me … we’re the hardcore shoppers, but we’re nice. I know people get impatient when they’re in line, but it comes with the territory on shopping on that day,” she said. “There is no sense in getting frustrated over it.”
Brice also said the worst part for her has always been parking.
“By the time I’m leaving the stores, people are fighting over spaces,” she said.
While Brice has had years where she’ll go with friends or her mother, most of her shopping on Black Friday is alone.
She’ll start at The Avenue West Cobb off Dallas Highway and hit up both the Target and Belk stores in that area when the early morning specials start. She’ll then go home for lunch and a nap before heading back out in the afternoon.
“I enjoy the craziness of it,” she said. “It’s a holiday tradition for me.”
Martin, 33, makes Black Friday a family experience and has gone for about 25 years with her mother, Pennie Yearty; grandmother, Fran Foster; and sister, Shannon Gorman.
This year Martin is even taking her five-month-old daughter, Emery.
“It’s my daughter’s first Thanksgiving, so we’re going to take her … (and) break her in early,” she said.
They are heading to the outlets in Dawsonville this year.
“My grandmother and mom have always loved to shop, and they passed that on to us,” said Martin, who is the office manager at Marietta Dental Associates. “They started us young, and we’ve gone ever since.”
Not all stores in Cobb are rushing to open on Thursday.
Jessica Stansel, of fashion-accessory retailer Charming Charlie in The Avenue West Cobb, said her store will open at 7 a.m. Friday, rather than its usual weekday opening time of 10 a.m.
This is the first year in the store’s three-year history that it will be opening at 7 a.m. and Stansel said that’s because they’ve noticed customers specifically are looking for more deals.
“It also drives more traffic … to be more competitive,” she said.
In preparation, they’ve focused on making the visual merchandise more impeccable and set up “under $20” sales tables throughout the store.
Stansel also said they are telling customers about deals and Black Friday promotions, which include taking $10 off a $40 purchase, $20 off a $60 purchase and $30 off an $80 purchase between Friday and Saturday, through Facebook and Twitter.
“The company is really big on social media marketing to target our customers, through email blasts and some in-store marketing,” she said.
Gourmet retailer Williams-Sonoma, in The Avenue East Cobb off Roswell Road, will open at 8 a.m. Friday, sales manager Ruth Love said, with such sales as 15 percent off several electric items through Sunday; a Calphalon 8-inch non-stick fry pan for $39.95 (originally $100); and a Cuisinart 10-cup thermal carafe coffee maker for $39.95 (originally $100).
“We’ll also have samplings and tastings of holiday foods … all our dinnerware and holiday stuff will be set up,” Love said.