Early-bird shoppers ditch turkey, head for stores

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights — Call it “Black Thursday” with the trimmings, when before the table’s set or after many leave the dinner spread full, some look to feast on more than turkey.

This year, shops like Carson’s, Big Lots and Bass Pro Shops opened Thursday morning for early shoppers. Other stores gave diners time to eat and run to hit the stores as they opened beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Shannon Lindamood of Macomb Township carries boxes of a Barbie townhouse set and looks for the checkout line at Toys R Us in Sterling Heights, Mich., Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (Jose Juarez/Special to Detroit News)

“We have high expectations every year and the crowd doesn’t change, just the shopping times as they get earlier each year based on the demand,” said Eric Karras, interim district manager of Toys “R” Us on Thursday.

Many shoppers committed to the early sales spent hours parking and standing in lines, like Barb Neumann from Clinton Township, who spent her morning at Carson’s in Clinton Township and then stood in line at Toys “R” Us in Sterling Heights in the afternoon.

“I shop Black Friday every year and you kind of have to come out (Thursday) because by the time you go tomorrow, everything’s gone and there’s better deals on Thanksgiving,” said Neumann of Clinton Township. “I’m not even going shopping tomorrow.”

Neumann said there was a line wrapped around Carson’s before the store opened at 11 a.m. She bought a deep fryer, pajamas and Under Armor hats before going to Toys “R” Us to shop for her first grandchild.

“I saved almost $400. No regrets,” Neumann said about having her Thanksgiving feast a day early so she could take advantage of early sales Thursday.

Black Friday no longer gets dibs on Christmas sales: Thanksgiving Thursday shopping and online sales have pushed into that territory, with more than $59 billion in sales expected between the two days, according to finder.com.

Others stores hope to get a boost this year from early sales. Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion along Livernois, once one of the city’s busiest commercial corridors, has seen its popularity slowly returning. It could see even more sales if city residents fanning out for Black Friday deals make the mile-long strip of mostly black-owned clothing stores, hair salons and eateries a destination, some owners say.

“We don’t get enough support,” said Kay Willingham, 58, owner of the Art in Motion ceramic studio and gallery. “A lot of people do run to the malls to get those hot deals.”

Tameka Young of Shelby Township was one of those seeking the special Thursday deals. She was the first in line outside of Toys “R” Us in Sterling Heights to get her two daughters, Tashania, 12, and Natalia, 6, a Barbie Doll Dream House for $60, regularly $90.

“I have to be the first one for the deals,” she said. “I hate that it has grown into Thanksgiving, but I only get one day off, so I can’t afford to go shopping tomorrow and not be able to get my daughters what they want.” .

Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi is open for business Thanksgiving night.

Another shopper, ready with her chair, blanket and hot coffee, waited outside the toy store to get her son, Jesse, 6, a set of Legos.

“My husband also wants the new “Call of Duty” video game and since I can get both here, this worked out,” said Maryann Rohrahaugh of Macomb. “I also plan on going to Walmart and Great Lakes Crossing tonight to get the rest of my shopping done.”

Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi opened at 6 p.m. but stores like H&M, Johnston & Murphy, Nordstrom, Kay Jewelers, Apple, Zumez, Ann Taylor and more remained closed on Thanksgiving.

Store employees said sales appeared to be off to a slow start at the mall, but said Black Friday sales likely would lure those who decided to sit out the bargains at home on Thursday.

Nagender Kasarla of Farmington Hills and his family shopped for a few hours at Macy’s, spending more than $400 on kitchenware, winter clothing and kids accessories.

“It’s just the beginning,” he said Thursday. “We’ll probably hit Best Buy, Kohl’s and spend a few hundred more before the night is over.”.

Clothing stores like American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie, a lingerie and apparel store, had 40-percent-off sales. Footlocker featured $60 redtagged sneakers.

“We basically skipped breakfast, ate around 2 p.m. and just left everything to clean up tomorrow,” said Andrea Korpie of Dearborn, who brought empty strollers to fill with her bags.

Dave Hannon and his family also ate early to go shopping for clothes on Thursday.

Shoppers begin to make their way around Toys R Us to look for deals in Sterling Heights, Mich., Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (Jose Juarez/Special to Detroit News)

“We ate dinner at 1 p.m., basically breakfast, and came to do our Christmas shopping,” said Hannon of Deaborn Heights. “We art, watched the Lions lose by a touchdown and came to spend money. Great holiday.”

Lindsey Barren said shopping on Thanksgiving gives her family an activity to do after their holiday meal.

“We can have a holiday and get some shopping done while still spending time with family on our days off,” said Barren of Wixom.

Jessica Barnier and her family come across the border from southwest Ontario for a two-day shopping frenzy each year.

“I’m got the glow-in-the-dark PJ Mask racetrack for my 3-year-old son Matthew, and I know he really is going to love it,” said Barnier of Chathem-Kent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.