Black Friday begins early for Columbia shoppers

Friday, November 23, 2012 | 1:34 p.m. CST; updated 10:12 a.m. CST, Monday, November 26, 2012
Shoppers lined up Thursday night at stores in Columbia for Black Friday deals.

COLUMBIA — Sharon McMinn started her shopping Thursday night at Sears and planned to end it at Target, where she was waiting in line at 9:30 p.m.

McMinn was spending the final hours of Thanksgiving Day shopping with her daughter, Kimberly, and her daughter-in-law, Charlene.

She was enjoying the company of her family, even though she said she wasn't looking for anything in particular.

"I'm standing in line, and I have nothing to buy," she said.

Black Friday is a long-standing tradition for holiday shoppers searching for good deals, but big-box stores pushed it back to Thursday this year.

Walmart, Toys R Us and Sears opened at 8 p.m. and Target at 9 p.m. Other stores, including Best Buy and Macy's, opened at midnight.

By 8:50 p.m., the line outside Target already wrapped around three sides of the building at 2400 Bernadette Drive.

"I thought that was the end right here," groaned one shopper, obviously disappointed by the length. 

At the Best Buy 2001 W. Worley St., John Gilmore had been camping outside for 24 hours before the store opened at midnight Friday. He was at the head of a line that stretched beyond the shopping center and into the parking lot paralleling Bernadette Drive. 

Best Buy employees were handing a balloon to the customer who would begin the next wave of shoppers to be admitted. When the customer reached the front of the line, the reward was a $5 gift card for holding the balloon.

At one point in the parking lot, a group of dancers — one wearing a horse-head mask, another a silver blinking cowboy hat — briefly entertained the waiting shoppers.

As the crowd began to applaud, Glenn Ensley, 31, captured the mood by joking: "It was all a distraction; all the TVs are gone."

Shortly after midnight, Justin Loza walked out of Best Buy with a 32-inch Panasonic TV.  

It wasn't what he wanted, but Loza settled for what he could get and said he wasn't likely to repeat the experience again: "Not unless it's a good deal," he said. 

Inside Best Buy, Duff Bergendahl pushed a cart as he checked his shopping list. It was his second year hitting the overnight Black Friday sales, and he insisted it would be his last.

"Do it one year as a joke, and they laugh at you," he said. "Then the next year they all want you to get things. Next year I'll be buying it online."

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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