It ain’t what it used to be
Celeste Florea was in and out in about 15 minutes.
In that time, she filled two big bags with several small appliances from the J.C. Penney store at Shadow Lake shopping center.
“Very chill, ” she said of her visit. “I feel like I was late getting here.”
By the time Florea arrived, thousands of Black Friday shoppers had been in and out of the same doors. The Sarpy County store opened at 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and was to stay open through Friday night. (On Thursday afternoon, a line snaked around the building as many hoped to get the $500 grand door prize or one of the $100 coupons.)
Florea, 28, recalled a decade ago when the same shopping center was crowded with Black Friday fans. She knows because she worked at one of the area retailers. “It was a lot crazier.”
“Now it’s kind of dead — easier to shop, though,” she said. — Cindy Gonzalez
* * *
Less rush at stores open around-the-clock
Josh Glenn had been up nearly 24 hours by the time he arrived at Kohl’s in Papillion to see what goodies he might find to put under the tree for his kids.
He was open to any juicy sale he might find, but was also expecting much of the same. “Boots, that’s the thing every year, every store has $20 boots.”
Despite the familiar scenes, he said he would not miss out on the annual tradition.
Sister-in-law Cyrina Lamb feels the same, even though she likes the lull of the 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. hours on Black Friday. Among her buys was a Husker pillow and clothes. “I prefer when there’s not as many people.”
They would go from the calm into the storm, though. Glenn was on the hunt for an iPhone and gift card combo – at Nebraska Furniture Mart. – Cindy Gonzalez
* * *
Why do they do it?
With the ease of online shopping, and more and more stores offering extended discount hours, the question becomes: Why bother with that early morning Black Friday scramble?
“It’s fun to just hang out and spend time with family, even if you don’t buy anything,” Delilah Roman, 20, said as she got started shopping Friday with a group of friends and relatives.
She headed to J.C. Penney with Will Alexander, 14, Bella Chartrand, 15, and Sandy Chartrand, 35. They first stopped for chocolate milk, orange juice and coffee in preparation for a day of store-hopping.
Will had his sights on shoes.
Sandy earlier had staked out the store for Christmas present clothes that today would be on sale.
“Then there’s impulse buys,” said Bella. “That’s all of my buys.”
Sandy Chartrand said she likes the convenience of online shopping, but for certain gifts and clothes prefers to check them out in person at a brick and mortar place.
And for Black Friday in particular, she said: “Really, it’s just the experience.” – Cindy Gonzalez
* * *
Anything for Mom
Nothing is too bothersome when it comes to mom — not even an hour’s drive to wait a couple of more hours in a line, in the dark.
“My mom – who doesn’t ask for anything – wanted a TV this year,” said Lora Kloewer, 52, who went to Best Buy Friday for one of the limited number of 55-inch smart TVs on sale. “She’s going to be like, whoa, this is a movie theater.”
Kloewer was Black Friday shopping with daughter and son-in-law, Ashley and Taylor Schleis, who had waited in line at the same place, for a different item, the night before. They said Friday definitely was less crazy than Thanksgiving Day.
“This line was insane last night,” said Ashley, whose earlier bounty included discounted Chromebooks, Kindles, a 43-inch TV and an air fryer. “We thought we’d try to be one of the first in line today.”
The three made friends with the few people in front of them, including Richard Weaver, who had arrived about 4:45 a.m. and was No. 1 in line.
“It’s not too bad this year,” Weaver said, while lounging in a lawn chair he brought along. “Weather is pretty good.” — Cindy Gonzalez
* * *
Hunting for big TV, camping gear, fuzzy socks
Mike Heaton, 19, emerged from his warm truck after seeing Richard Weaver start the line in front of the Best Buy at the Shadow Lake shopping center in Papillion.
Heaton was on the hunt for one of the big-screen TVs that were discounted about $200. He said another likely stop would be Cabela’s – but not before he dropped by Old Navy.
He had to pick up some fuzzy animal socks for his girlfriend, he said.
“I want to go look at Cabela’s, but my wallet probably will be hurting by then,” he said. — Cindy Gonzalez
* * *
Lines for leggings at Lululemon
A little rain couldn’t put a damper on the spirits of a crazy line for a rare sale at Lululemon at Village Pointe. Most shoppers were there for a deal on roughly half off the popular leggings.
That’s what brought Madison Kilton, 15.
“We’ve been doing this a couple years,” she said. “They don’t have many sales.”
The family arrived at 6:50 a.m., first in line, ready for the 8 a.m. opening. Their next stops: Scheels and Sephora. — Aaron Sanderford
* * *
“I like the thrill. The chase.”
First in line at the Best Buy at Village Pointe was Valley resident Don Lerdahl, 62.
He came for the $249 55-inch 4K TV and saw a print ad that likely sold him on a Norelco shaver, too. He got here at about 4 a.m., but stayed in his car until someone else arrived and got out around 5.
“Every year I do something,” he said. “My wife stays home and warm having coffee.”
A few steps behind him, Diane Mommsen, 57, of Omaha, and her daughter, Erin Mommsen, 26, waited for the same TV. Usually, Diane is in the crowd at Menards.
“I like the thrill,” said Erin Mommsen. “The chase.”
But even she has her limits: “I was at Target last night and some people had made Black Friday T-shirts. I’m not that intense.”
Near the back of the line around 7:30 a.m. was Cory Royster, 40, of Des Moines. He’s visiting family in the Elkhorn area, and he doesn’t like crowds.
So he dropped off his wife and daughters, 11 and 12, and headed here. He hadn’t even seen the ad, so someone handed him one.
“I’m just killing some time while my family is out,” he said. “They’re over at Scheels, in all that madness, but I’ll manage.” — Aaron Sanderford
* * *
Forget TVs — some shoppers stock up on pet staples
Tish and Aaron Rathman were among those forming an early-morning line at the PetSmart Papillion store at 7 a.m. Thursday.
Cat litter is the deal — as many containers as the store allows for kitties Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury.
“We start here every year, then fan out,” said Darci Engel, who waited with family for the PetSmart to open its doors. Cat litter is the main hunt today, she said.
At the Best Buy in Shadow Lake, Robert Weaver decided 4:45 a.m. was not too early to stand — or sit — in line for a 55-inch smart TV. He said he wasn’t too chilly, and he was ready to save $200.
It’s a “fill your belly and hit the stores kind of deal,” he said. — Cindy Gonzalez
* * *
Savvy shoppers find second line at Furniture Mart
The Best Buy near 76th and Dodge Streets was quiet around 6 a.m. — did Thanksgiving night sales quench the appetites of overnighters?
But back at Nebraska Furniture Mart, a second line appeared — and it was shorter.
Britany Matthiessen, 30, of Omaha, showed up at about 11 p.m. Thursday with her sisters, McKenzie Currey, 21, of Lincoln, and Ireland Currey, 19, of Lincoln, and her cousin, Bradan Leahy, 15, of Omaha. They saw the long line at the traditional spot.
So they drove around and saw only one person camping near the other side’s entrance on the east side of the electronics store. They stood outside, with a few car warm-ups, for $250 off a Kitchen Aid mixer for the girls’ mom.
Said McKenzie: “She does everything for us.”
At 7 a.m., that line was still shorter than the other one wrapping around the store. — Aaron Sanderford
* * *
Long line of shoppers stretches around Nebraska Furniture Mart
By 5:30 a.m. Friday, the line outside Nebraska Furniture Mart’s electronics store stretched around the building toward Mrs. B’s Clearance Center. Many toward the front of the line had been there since Thursday evening.
Second in line, behind a group still huddling in their tent and another group who just put theirs away, was Suede Fredette, 24, of Council Bluffs.
He headed out for the $99 43-inch 4K TV from Silo and perhaps a new iPad and laptop. He came after eating Thursday.
Fredette likes the experience of the overnight wait, the rush of the store opening at 8. It’s his third year.
“We ate around 5,” he said. “Hung out with some family. They think I’m insane. Hopefully I’ll have everything I came here for, and I’ll be like, ‘I’m not so crazy now.’”
Behind him was a family waiting on a half-off deal for Apple AirPods, earbud headphones that come with a charger. Katherine Mokler, 39, of Omaha, and sons Kieran, 13, and Kaden, 11, were each hoping to grab a pair for $79.99 apiece.
They’ve been Black Friday shopping before, usually at Kohl’s or JCPenney.
This deal, Mokler said, was too good to pass up. “It was fine,” she said of staying overnight. “A little cold, but not too bad. Just windy.” — Aaron Sanderford
* * *
On the shopping list: Christmas gifts and hoverboard deals
One group of shoppers at the J.C. Penney at Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion said they weren’t willing to stay up all night shopping.
They just started around 5:30 a.m. Friday and plan to go til that chocolate milk and coffee perk dies down — or til they find the hoverboard deal Mom is seeking.
At 4 a.m., Parker Glenn, 17, of Plattsmouth, said he left extra early to shop for sibling Christmas gifts.
But he left the Kohl’s in Papillion with great deals on clothes — for himself. — Cindy Gonzalez
* * *
Early-risers on the prowl for good deals “for the fun of it”
Even with increasingly extended store hours and online shopping, people still got up in the wee hours to look for Black Friday deals.
At 3:30 a.m. at the Kohl’s in Papillion, a group of women exited the store laughing, with bags overflowing, and plotting their next stop.
So why hit up the stores so early?
“For the fun of it, to see all the crazy people out — we’re right there in the middle of it,” said Adrienne Feldhaus, who headed out at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Her younger sister, Erin Colpitts, had a less enthusiastic answer: “Because they make me…” — Cindy Gonzalez
* * *
An evening at Oak View Mall
At Oak View Mall, Omaha resident Tami Nosal, 50, kept alive a Thanksgiving night tradition for the fifth year by visiting with her daughter, Ellie Nosal, 17, her niece, Katie Siefkes, 18, and her sister-in-law, Kris Siefkes, 45. They eat turkey early and go shopping afterward.
They were part of a small but committed group of people eating a late snack at the food court. They weren’t thrilled that Target opened at 5 p.m., an hour earlier than usual, but, “We pushed them out early because this is a tradition,” Tami said. The one downer with Oak View’s recent struggles, she said, was the loss of Younkers, a regular stop. They hit American Eagle Outfitters and J.C. Penney.
Downstairs by Scooter’s Coffee, Millard-area resident Sal Rubio, 24, rested with his family members after a swing through Hot Topic and Justice. Their kids, 7 and 5, need clothes and toys. They miss Toys ‘R’ Us but found 50 percent off deals at Justice.
He and his wife, Amanda, 24, still had stops. He wanted to visit Game Stop. She was bound for Bath & Body Works. “We live out here and didn’t want to tackle Westroads (Mall),” he said. — Aaron Sanderford
For some, Nebraska Crossing is ‘worth the drive’
The line at Under Armour Factory House was about 150 deep before the store’s 7 p.m. opening on Thursday. Fifty percent off is worth it, said Jennifer Aron, 35, of Omaha. She got it line about 5:45 p.m., good enough for second place.
Aron’s shopping crew was made up of Mary Corbaley, 58, of Omaha, who got there a few minutes earlier to hold their spot in line, and Richelle Horvath, 37, of Omaha. The plan, some Christmas presents and a little personal shopping.
Over at the Nebraska Crossing’s Nike Store, Stephen Washington, 27, of Des Moines, Iowa, was experiencing his first Thanksgiving or Black Friday shopping trip. The line, which snakes around the store, wasn’t enough to turn him away from 40 percent off much of what’s in the store.
Washington gets to spend more time with his family after eating in a way that makes all of them happy. “40 percent is very serious,” he said. “And we don’t get to spend a lot of time together.”
Across the walkway at the Coach outlet, Bennington resident Jenna Reeh, 31, was in line to help her brother, 21, scouting potential gifts for his girlfriend. Coach was sporting a deal of 70% off everything but fragrances.
“If I find anything that catches my eye, I’ll buy it for myself, wrap it and say thank you to my husband,” she said. Her next stops were shoe shopping and Sunglass Hut.
Around the corner a ways, Ming Xie, 38, of Omaha, was in line at Michael Kors with her family. She didn’t know what she wanted yet, but she couldn’t stay away from all the different brands at the outlet.
To her, it was worth the drive. — Aaron Sanderford
* * *
An early start to Black Friday — on Thursday
The line wrapped around the Target store in central Lincoln on Thanksgiving as shoppers got a head start on Black Friday deals — just barely after putting away the turkey and the trimmings.
Lincoln resident Leona Thurman, 38, was the first in line here around 10:15 a.m., line sitters say. She was one of the 24 people who grabbed tickets for a 55-inch Element 4K TV for $199. She was joined in the picture by Nicole Rhynolds, 13, who had been with her since about lunch.
Thurman got passed in line while she rested briefly in her parked car. Lincoln resident Eric Turvey, 37, snagged her spot. He and Amy Vanmeveren, 33, of Lincoln, had never been shopping like this together. Usually she went and he slept.
Turvey said of his first Thanksgiving or Black Friday early bird shopping experience that, “We look crazy. We’re all crazy, but in a good way.” He wants the TV for football and Xbox games. She wants it for Netflix and football.
One of the next people in line regretted having to be there. Mary Persinger, 71, of Lincoln, said she preferred when stores stayed closed on Thanksgiving. She doesn’t like the idea of interrupting one of the only family-focused days on the calendar.
“I hate it,” Persinger said. “Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to visit with family. But that deal on the TV is just too good.”
Target staffer Nicole Killsenemy, 33, came out to talk to people in line and tell them that the store would be letting people in one by one once it opens at 5 p.m. “I want people to be courteous,” she said. People who aren’t will be asked to leave. — Aaron Sanderford