ST. CLAIRSVILLE - What do iPads, generators and "Monster High" dolls have in common?
They were among the most sought-after items during holiday sales that started Thursday at stores across the Ohio Valley.
Breaking with the tradition of opening early on Black Friday, several retailers opened their doors on Thanksgiving to attract customers even earlier this shopping season. Some - such as Kmart and Wal-Mart - held multiple openings or offered staggered specials throughout the afternoon and evening to keep things bustling on a day many had previously reserved for relaxing with family and friends.
Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough
About 20 people eagerly await the opening of Toys R Us at the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville on Thursday. Although this line had formed by 4 p.m., the store opened at 8 p.m.
About 4 p.m. outside Kmart in St. Clairsville, sisters Jenny Ross and Ruth Emerson were first in line for the store's second opening of the day at 8 p.m. The siblings hoped to take advantage of an advertised sale to get a big gift for their parents. And it seems like their parents deserve it, since the women expected them to stop by the store later in the evening to bring their daughters a holiday meal.
While Emerson said she has been a Black Friday shopper for the past five years, Ross said it had been 10 years since she had hit the post-holiday sales. But she said a Kmart ad in the newspaper got their attention, and they decided to do their best to secure the gift for a good price.
Kmart manager Melvin Clark said the store opened Thursday morning and closed at 4 p.m. It reopened from 8 p.m. Thursday until 3 a.m. today before reopening at 5 a.m. with special Black Friday deals offered until 11 a.m. He said everyone seemed "energetic" Thursday, adding that sales are up this year.
"I'm just not used to closing in the middle of the afternoon," he quipped about the store's staggered hours Thursday.
Clark said most early shoppers are out to find deals on electronics such as TVs and iPads, which may be offered in limited quantities.
At the Rural King store, which had its grand opening on the perimeter of the Ohio Valley Mall on Oct. 31, generators were the hot item of the day Thursday. Manager Betty Ann Jasper said people lined up in the store's lobby awaiting its 7 a.m. opening, and once they were admitted the entire supply of generators had been claimed within five minutes.
Following the early morning rush, customers were browsing the store's large selection of clothing, toys, tools and more.
"Actually, we're doing awesome," Jasper said. "We've had a great day."
And she said that has been a trend since the store opened.
"This location has been wonderful," she added. "We've been consistently busy every day. The company is thrilled with us. We're hitting it out of the park."
Tiffany Scott of Glencoe was first in line to take advantage of holiday sales at Toys R Us, which opened at 8 p.m. Thursday. She arrived at the mall at 1 p.m. in hopes of getting good deals on "Monster High" dolls, a Strawberry Shortcake grocery cart and more for her 5-year-old daughter. She said Black Friday shopping has been an off-and-on tradition for her for about five years.
"I would rather shop on Black Friday and the early sales than be shopping late," she said.
Bryan Clark of Bridgeport was not far behind her. He said Scott was waiting in her car when he pulled into the lot, but she quickly hopped out and beat him to the front of the line.
"There won't be any fighting until those doors open up," he joked. "Then it's on."
Clark, who said his wife broke with tradition this year and did not accompany him to the sales, was seeking Army men and video games for his 5-year-old son. He said the good deals he finds at Black Friday sales keep him coming back.
"This is my only shopping day," he said of his holiday gift buying. "If I can't get it today, they're not going to get it."
Some other retailers that offered special sales on Thursday included Target and Michaels at The Highlands in Ohio County, HH Gregg and Sears at the mall, as well as CVS, Big Lots, Rite Aid and Family Dollar.
Many others - at both shopping centers and various locations throughout the region - are open early today featuring Black Friday specials. Among them are Macy's Old Navy, J.C Penney, Kohl's, Elder-Beerman, Cabela's, Staples, Best Buy and Lowe's.