Black Friday crowds not as large with sales starting Thursday

Photo by Evan Bevins Racine, Ohio, resident Stacy Marcinko looks at items to add to an already full cart Friday morning at Toys R Us in Vienna.

VIENNA — Zanesville brothers Trenton and Aaron Ashley had heard the stories about Black Friday, its massive crowds and shoppers intent on crossing items off their Christmas lists with doorbusting bargains.

But they didn’t witness it firsthand Friday.

“It wasn’t very busy,” Trenton Ashley said outside the WalMart in south Parkersburg a little before 8 a.m. “It kind of felt like a normal day.”

Their first Black Friday shopping experience with parents Jennifer and Johnny Nolan resulted in Trenton picking up a couple of video games he can’t have until Christmas. The big crowds had already come and gone the day before.

“It took the (fun) out of 6 o’clock on Friday morning,” Johnny Nolan said with a laugh.

Photo by Evan Bevins Mineral Wells resident Janie Pennock, left, and her daughter, Amy Traugh of Parkersburg, look at Lego sets as they shop Friday at Toys R Us in Vienna.

As more and more stores open their doors in the evening, or afternoon, of Thanksgiving, the look of Black Friday is changing. Even the relatively newer Cyber Monday — when shoppers pursue savings online the Monday after Thanksgiving — isn’t limited to one day.

“I shopped a lot on Sunday night,” Parkersburg resident Amy Traugh said, noting some retailers started offering “Black Friday” prices early online.

But still, she estimated she would get 50 to 60 percent of her Christmas shopping done on Friday.

“I like to get a deal,” Traugh said.

The Thanksgiving week crowds haven’t vanished though, just moved.

Photo by Evan Bevins Ripley resident Dawna Rose rearranges some of the items she and her mother picked up during their Black Friday shopping at the WalMart in south Parkersburg.

People started lining up at Toys R Us in Vienna around 2:45 p.m. Thursday, manager Michael Yudt said. The line went around the side of the store as people waited to get doorbuster deals on products from Nerf, Lego, Barbie, Cabbage Patch Kids and more.

Mineral Wells residents Tim and Lisa Whitehair went there and several other places on Thursday.

“It was bad,” Tim Whitehair said of Thursday’s crowds at various stores. “Wall to wall.”

Parkersburg resident Jordan Bonnette tried to hit Toys R Us on Thursday “but it was too packed.” He was able to snag the present he wanted for his son there Friday morning though.

The Whitehairs, who shopped until about 10 p.m. Thursday and were back out Friday morning, said they would prefer to keep the sales and shopping off of the holiday.

Photo by Evan Bevins Mineral Wells residents Lisa and Tim Whitehair load their car after making their second bargain-hunting stop at the south Parkersburg WalMart in less than 24 hours Friday morning.

“It’s a tradition,” Tim Whitehair said of Black Friday shopping. “Changing it to Thursday on Thanksgiving lets people spend less time with their families.”

St. Marys resident Kim Ingram said she was part of a group of eight that started their shopping at 7 a.m. Friday.

“We don’t ever go on Thursday,” she said. “I don’t like that concept.”

Mike Criss, of Parkersburg, spent a couple of hours Thursday evening shopping at Rural King in Parkersburg. By about 10 o’clock Friday morning, he said he was done with his shopping for the day, although his wife was still going at Grand Central Mall in Vienna.

“Christmas gifts (at WalMart), me gifts at Home Depot,” he said with a laugh.

Photo by Evan Bevins Clockwise from left, Carmen Sheppard of Mineral Wells, sister-in-law Christy Cunningham of North Carolina, her daughter Talia Cunningham, Sheppard’s daughter Joselyn and Mary Sheppard, Carmen Sheppard’s mother-in-law and Christy Cunnigham’s mother, take a break from Black Friday shopping in the food court at Grand Central Mall in Vienna.

For some people, Black Friday is as much about the time spent together as spending money on gifts.

Mineral Wells resident Mary Sheppard left her house at 5 a.m. with her daughter, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. It was the start of what she hopes is a new tradition of the group shopping together the day after Thanksgiving.

“This is girls’ day out,” Mary Sheppard said.

Ripley resident Helen Fisher wasn’t limiting her shopping only to Christmas.

“I’ve got eight grandchildren, and I’m shopping early,” she said.

“That’s for my new house,” Fisher said, pointing at a large TV she in the trunk of her SUV. “It’s not a Christmas present; it just happened to be a good buy.”