Shoppers trade holiday dinner time for bargains
CAPITAL REGION By 4:15 p.m. Thursday, the line at the Toys R Us store on Wolf Road stretched to the corner of the building.
This line wasn’t going anywhere for another 45 minutes, and there was Rotterdam resident Kylee Fleming at the line’s end, ready to shop for Christmas gifts for her 2-year-old son.
She was also ready to do it at a decent hour: 5 p.m., rather than 5 a.m.
“It’s a lot nicer,” Fleming said of the earlier time. “I enjoy it.”
And she was ready to shop, having already fueled up on Thanksgiving dinner early.
“Dinner’s already done,” Fleming said of the early family meal. “We already had Thanksgiving cleaned up. It’s like it never happened.”
Then it was on to Christmas.
As Black Friday store openings have crept earlier and earlier, turning into Thursday night openings in some cases, shoppers have followed suit, closing the book on the Thanksgiving holiday earlier and jumping headlong into the next one.
The Toys R Us in Colonie was one of those stores pushing the opening earlier this year, giving some people the opportunity to make a new Thanksgiving tradition: Standing in the cold and waiting in line.
In Colonie, the line began just before 2 p.m., when Neil Stocks of Glenmont took the first spot.
“I wanted to beat the crowd,” a bundled-up Stocks said as he waited.
In return for making sure his three children, ages 9 months, 6 and 5, had a good Christmas, he said he skipped dinner altogether, “but they’re going to put something aside for me.”
And that was something shoppers had to deal with: how to fit in, or not fit in, Thanksgiving dinner when there were sales to be had.
As to why the opening times have crept earlier and earlier, Mark Gansky offered a simple reason: There’s money to be made.
“I know some people gripe about it; it’s 5 o’clock,” he said. “Well, don’t come. Money talks. If they aren’t going to make money, then they aren’t going to have it. They keep pushing it back because people are going to come in.”
Gansky and his family were pros at the Black Friday (now Thursday) game. Gansky was there with his wife and 17-year-old daughter.
They dressed in layers but also stayed out of the cold by waiting in line in shifts, rotating between sitting in the car and standing outside of the store.
Thursday’s high of 32 degrees ran 11 degrees below normal, according to the National Weather Service. This morning’s temperatures, for the traditional Black Friday, were expected to be in the upper teens.
For Gansky and his family, there was also the reclining folding chair, making life in line a little more comfortable.
“You get dressed nice and warm, pretend like it’s hunting,” he said. “Dress just like hunting” — and bring a chair.
Inside the store, workers made sure everything was in order. As the time came to open the doors, everybody got into their places.
The actual opening was as orderly as it could be. The store manager controlled the flow into the store by letting people in in groups.
With three groups of 50 inside, the line outside still stretched to the corner of the building.
As people came in, some grabbed carts and began their shopping just inside the door, glancing at displays and dropping a toy in their cart before moving in further.
Store employees controlled traffic flow inside the store, having everyone turn right after entering rather than just fanning out.
But all of this commerce came at a cost.
Heather Agan of Selkirk stood in line, bundled up for the weather, ready to shop for her children.
She did have dinner but skipped dessert.
The kids? “They’re home with dad, playing video games, eating pie.”
Agan said she would rather have been there, too, and then gone out at the traditional Black Friday early morning times. But she also wanted to make sure her gift budget for her children went as far as it could go.
“I actually liked it better having to get up early,” Agan said. “I miss my pie.
“I would rather take that nap after Thanksgiving and hang out with the kids a little longer,” she added.
Fleming, of Rotterdam, also skipped her dessert. But she did so just because she was full.
Her plans were to have it when she got home, after hitting a few other stores open on Thanksgiving.
“I’m hoping to get home well before midnight,” Fleming said.