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Beating the Black Friday rush

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Shoppers line up Thanksgiving night to find best local deals

By Sarah Bennett

Roger Keith and his friend, Seth Phipps, set up camp at 2 p.m. Wednesday outside Sears at Towne Mall in Elizabethtown with a “24-hour kit,” including a tent, heater, lawn chairs and a cooler.

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Keith made the trip from Lebanon Junction to Elizabethtown for a 50-inch LED television, he said.

He and his wife lost two televisions within a month, and Keith waited four months to purchase a new TV to secure a Black Friday deal, he said.

Reclining with his feet on a cooler, Keith sat facing a long line of shoppers Thursday waiting for Sears to open its doors at 8 p.m.

Asked if Black Friday shopping seemed to be starting earlier each year, he said “yes” and credited it to competing businesses.

“Best Buy started it,” Keith said. “Other stores would open at 6 a.m. Then Best Buy started opening at 5 a.m., so everybody else would, too.”

In some instances, he said, Black Friday deals are worth waiting in the long lines and fighting through crowds of shoppers.

“If you need something like we did, yeah, it’s worth the effort,” Keith said.

Like Sears, Kmart in Elizabethtown opened its doors at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Radcliff resident Tinik Hall and her mother, Diane Panola, sat in lawn chairs at the front of a long line of Thursday night shoppers. With blankets draped around their shoulders, Hall and Panola were watching a DVD on a portable television resting in a shopping cart.

“We always come here,” said Hall, who has been Black Friday shopping with Panola for 10 years.

Not only is it about the “thrill” of waiting in line and snagging deals, she said, it’s also about sharing time with her mom while they shop for Christmas gifts.

“It gives me and my mom a lot of time together,” Hall said.

For Leitchfield resident David Clemons, shopping Thursday night also was about family. Clemons and three of his siblings lined up outside H.H. Gregg to purchase a Whirlpool refrigerator for their mother, he said.

The electronics and appliance store was slated to open its doors at 10 p.m. Thursday.

“I wish they wouldn’t do this, even though I’m here,” Clemons said about stores opening early for Black Friday. “I think you need to have family time.”

However, Clemons said he had been watching the price of that particular refrigerator throughout the year. On Thursday, H.H. Gregg had four in stock at the lowest price at which he’d seen the appliance marked.

“I don’t think they’re all good deals,” he said about Black Friday sales, “but there are some.”

Even though Best Buy wasn’t scheduled to open its doors until midnight Friday, shoppers sat in a line that wound around the building Thursday night.

First-time Black Friday shopper Aaron Morgan of New Haven joined the line at 5 p.m. Thursday. Morgan, his mother and sister were waiting to purchase a Playstation 3 and 40-inch flat-screen television, he said.

Even though he thinks Thanksgiving and Black Friday are getting closer together, he said, “It was too good of a deal to pass up.”

As he sat in a lawn chair in the middle of a long line of shoppers, Morgan said next year, he would remember to bring an mp3 player, laptop or “anything to pass time” in a Black Friday line.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.