WHEELING- Hundreds of local shoppers left their Thanksgiving tables behind to brave the cold and the crowds in search of holiday deals Thursday for the first time at The Highlands in Wheeling.
With "doorbuster" deals starting as early as 6 p.m., the call to holiday savings came early for 2013 and shoppers answered in force, if somewhat reluctantly.
"I don't like it but ... I'm here," Moundsville resident Cathy Burdette said as she stood outside Best Buy at 5 p.m. waiting for the doors to open an hour later. She said deals on electronics brought her out Thursday evening, a day earlier than her traditional annual Black Friday shopping trip.
Photos by Daniel Dorsch
Cortney McCutcheon, left, and her sister, Casie, both of St. Clairsville, wait for Best Buy at the Highlands to open on Thursday evening.
Shoppers wait in line for sales to begin at Wal-Mart on Thursday evening.
Cortney and Casie McCutcheon had no complaints for themselves as they huddled on camping chairs outside Best Buy on Thursday evening holding hot drinks in their gloved hands.
"We're Best Buy warriors," Casie McCutcheon said. "This is our third year doing this."
"I just don't think it's fair to the people who have to work here," Cortney McCutcheon said.
Across the road at Wal-Mart, there were no lines of people in the cold because the store had not closed at all that day. Instead, lines formed inside as employees stood beside covered sale displays in preparation for the 6 p.m. sale.
"The sales are what brought us out today," Diana Lilley of Wheeling said as she waited in line while reading a sale flyer. For Lilley, the earlier store openings on Thanksgiving night bring a mixture of positive and negative effects.
"I think it's horrible we have to stop our Thanksgiving dinner," Lilley said. "But it's nice, though, because I can get my shopping done and get home in time to get a good night's sleep."
Employees at Wal-Mart said the store only closes on Christmas Eve to remain closed on Christmas Day, staying open every day for the rest of the year.
At Target, Dallas and Daniel Baciak of Wheeling were on a mission with their sights set on a few special sale items as they huddled on camping chairs waiting for the doors to open.
The windows at Cabela were still dark Thursday evening as sales at the sporting goods store waited to open early on this morning but that did not deter a small encampment of dedicated shoppers who had set up three small tents as they prepared for an overnight vigil to be the first ones in the store today.
"We came in just for the experience," Cindy Wise of Cameron said as she sat in front of the store's doors. "Last year was the first time we did it and we really enjoyed it."
"They treat you really good, too," Angelina Riggs agreed, recalling free coffee and refreshments being distributed to previous Black Friday shoppers along with yearly giveaways and discounts.
Although there were less than a dozen people waiting outside Cabela on Thursday evening, Riggs said the crowd usually swells to wrap around the building.
"There were definitely over 600 people here last year," Riggs said. "It gets pretty crazy here."