News Column

Black Friday's Early Shoppers Get the Goods

November 26, 2010

Greta Guest, Patricia Montemurri and Zlati Meyer

Black Friday shoppers brave the cold and crowds to score deals across metro Detroit in early morning sales.

Christmas spirit, generosity in full force

9:51 a.m. |Tyrone Kemp, 39, of Detroit, had big eyes for the big screen today.

The off-duty Detroit Police Sergeant set out at 2:30 a.m. today for the Best Buy in Southfield, intent on buying a wide-screen television set for himself.

He stood outside for an hour, and gave up even before the store opened at 4 a.m.

He went to a Target in Farmington Hills, and left there empty-handed, again discouraged by long lines.

Then he went to the Target in east Dearborn, and found a TV for himself -- and subsequently one for his 15-year-old son, his 11-year-old daughter, his niece and his nephew.

Bewitched by deals on electronics, Kemp said he suddenly imagined himself as a secret Santa destined to dazzle loved ones with his unexpected generosity.

"The kids are always saying they want a TV for their rooms, and I say, 'What you need a TV for. Come watch TV with me,' " recounted Kemp. "I'm going to wrap them up, and they'll probably think it's some kind of toy, not a TV."

He bought three 32-inch sets at $350 apiece, and one 46-inch set for $450. Next, he went to Meijer's, and put a 42-inch Vizio TV in his cart for $479.

"I guess I'm just in the spirit. I don't usually spend this type of money," said Kemp, as he loaded the last set into his truck.

By Patricia Montemurri, Free Press staff writer

Lost sleep? A small price to pay for great discounts

9:05 a.m. |Sometimes to achieve comfort, one must sacrifice comfort.

Motivated by visions of fleecy warm pajama bottoms to be had for $5 apiece, Nicole Kerr, 17, of Detroit left the comfort of her warm bed to visit the Old Navy store well before dawn's early light.

"It was worth it," said the Detroit Southwestern High junior. She left the store at 6 a.m. with seven pairs of pajama bottoms -- three for her and four for her brother's girlfriend.

The Old Navy was deluged with bargain-hunting shoppers, lured in by prize giveaways, when it opened at midnight.

By 6 a.m., the checkout lines that had encircled the store had dwindled to manageable lengths.

Marsha Barnett Krause, 61, an independent assessor from Dearborn, arrived at Old Navy at 12:30 a.m. and waited a half hour in line just to get in. She shopped for 10 grandchildren, ages 11 months to 9 years old, who live in California, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan. She knows all their sizes by heart.

"The list is in here," she said, pointing to her head.

She spent five hours in the store, assessing styles, colors and prices, such as the $15 jeans, $5 shirts and 50% off jackets.

"It took so long because it's hard to buy for people I don't see that often," said an exhausted Barnett Krause. "I'm done. I'm whipped. I knew this was my best value for what they need."

By Patricia Montemurri, Free Press staff writer

Dedication, purpose pay off for shoppers

8:56 a.m. |Kathy Hocevar's schedule this morning smacked of military precision.

The 63-year-old Clawson resident hit the stores in the I-75-14 Mile-John R retail corridor with a strategy. 5 a.m.: Meijer. 5:30 a.m.: Home Depot. 5:45 a.m.: Kohl's. 7 a.m.: Macy's.

Her dedication and sense of purpose paid off, though she admitted that most of her purchases were for herself. At Meijer, for example, she bought a hair dryer for $9, as did her friend, Marie Kohler, with whom she was now browsing in Macy's home accents department in search of a good deal on a food processor. Hocevar picked up three poinsettias -- one gift and to for her own home -- at the home-improvement giant, because they were going for $1 each, 75% off.

And over at Kohl's, she found two $19.99 lap blankets, one black and white and the other gray plaid, for a gift -- plus house shoes and a pair of multicolored polka dot gloves for herself.

"I have a slipper fetish," she said, as Kohler nodded in agreement. "I also have a glove fetish."

Hocevar, who works in the health care industry, was excited about her many finds, though fueling her were a mere bagel, cup of coffee and a bite-sized candy bar one of the stores had passed out to eager shoppers. Her jacket had long ago been balled up and stuffed in a Macy's shopping bag.

"I do it every year," she explained. "I think it's exciting. It's being part of a crowd, even if I don't buy anything."

But for Kohler, a 57-year-old laid-off auto worker from Hazel Park, it was the exact opposite that got her into the stores early this morning.

"I'm out this year because I thought the economy would affect shopping and it has," she said, admitting that unlike her friend, Black Friday bargain-hunting isn't an annual tradition.

Kohler estimated the crowds were smaller this morning, so she was able to browse without working off a list and simply go where inspiration struck.

"I'm shopping for myself, because I've already done the Christmas shopping," she said, eyeing some kitchenware deals.

By Zlati Meyer, Free Press staff writer

Friends, families scope out deals together

8:46 a.m. |At 5:45 a.m., the line for cashiers at the Target at the Fairlane Green shopping center in Allen Park stretched across the entire front of the store and then along a side wall.

Instead of scouting the Target store shelves for a deal, Charlene Hamilton, 30, of Novi scouted the line.

She and her friend, Eryne Davis, 31, of Redford, were lured to the Target by its advertised deals on wide-screen televisions. But Hamilton came up empty-handed by the time she got to the TV aisle. So Hamilton eyed the lineup at the cashiers looking for a customer with TVs in their carts and a possible case of buyer's remorse.

"I was casing out the line to see if anybody didn't want a TV or was returning it," said Hamilton, "and I heard one guy say he didn't ..."

"And she pounced," added Davis, finishing her friend's sentence.

The Samsung 32-inch television, tagged at $328, will go in Hamilton's bedroom.

Hamilton was up all night. She was at a Walmart and Toys "R" Us before she picked up Davis, along with Davis' daughter, Courtney, 3, at 3 a.m.

It was Courtney's first Black Friday, and the kid was very alert when a reporter asked if mom had bought any presents for kids during the predawn shopping spree.

"T-O-Y-S," Davis spelled out. "P-R-I-N-C-E-S-S D-O-L-L-S."

After Target, they went to Meijer and Office Depot before standing in line for 30 minutes awaiting the opening of ABC Warehouse in Dearborn at 8 a.m. Davis snagged a Magnavox DVD player for $40 for her mom, and decided to head home by 8:30 a.m.

"We shop together all the time," said Davis. "It's always fun to do things with company. It's always fun to spend your money in the presence of others."

By Patricia Montemurri, Free Press staff writer

Bargains lure out-of-towners

8:45 a.m. -- The rack of glittery and poufy jewel-toned girls' party dresses at the Oakland Mall Macy's were what caught Sara Duris's eye.

The 47-year-old mother of two noticed the rich fuchsias and turquoises, mixed among blacks and whites, and noticed the 50% off sign. Not bad for dresses that ranged from $58-$78. She thought one of them could be the perfect outfit for her 8-year-old daughter Clair -- a girly-girl -- to wear to church on Christmas.

"We didn't come out for anything" in particular, the senior-center program coordinator said. "Part of it is we live in St. Joseph. We're visiting family, so we wanted to shop in the bigger stores."

She and husband Chris, 46, a market researcher, started their day around 5 a.m. and so far had bought Legos, a DSi, Wii games, jeans and pajamas. Among their favorite deals was a DVD of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" they got at Target for $9.95, 50% off.

"The flyers are in the car; they're memorized," Chris Duris joked.

The couple said they come out with shopping lists blazing every Black Friday, though this year, they've been focusing on picking up bargain goodies for other people.

"We haven't made up our lists" yet, Chris Duris said, as he held a Macy's bag containing a gift for his mother -- a robe and nightgown.

-- By Zlati Meyer, Free Press staff writer

Two lists to shop by

8:10 a.m. -- One shopping list isn't enough for Christine Spurbeck, an advertising executive from Ferndale. Her Black Friday strategy requires two.

On one notebook-sized piece of paper, she listed the eight stores she wanted to visit, and their opening times. The list: J.C. Penney, Macy's, Target, Walmart, Sports Authority, Art Van, Kohl's and Parisian. In another pocket, she kept a notebook, with each store listed again by the items she wanted to purchase at each retailer -- so discerned by poring through the Thanksgiving newspaper ad inserts.

Her first stop at 4 a.m. today was J.C. Penney at Fairlane Town Center, where she snagged a Polar Express train set for her 4-year-old son for $88, down from $150. By 4:45 a.m, she was at Macy's, where a girl's pink winter coat caught her eye, not for anybody she knows, but for the stranger she imagines will be helped when she donates the coat to the Giving Tree Christmas project at her parish, St. James Catholic Church in Ferndale.

"I like to buy something nice for that, because I imagine a family that's struggling will like to get something from Macy's," said Spurbeck.

By 7:30 a.m., she had also hit Target, Walmart, Sports Authority and Art Van, where a portable fireplace became hers for $388. She fueled herself with handfuls of Honey Chex cereal, purchased at Target, along with video games and toys for her youngest son. Then she headed home to Ferndale to unload the first load of goodies, her wallet about $800 lighter.

"I will shop until I drop," declared Spurbeck. She was headed to Sterling Heights to meet her sister for shopping at Kohl's and Parisian. To this point, said Spurlock, she was focused on the list.

Having crossed off so much from the list, she was now open to other possibilities.

"I've tried to stay focused and not get distracted," said Spurbeck. "But now I'm willing to see the things that will just catch my eye and lure me in."

By Patricia Montemurri, Free Press staff writer

Early birds shop with a strategy

6:45 a.m. -- Tiffany Kelly stood just inside the entrance at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills a little after 5 a.m. today, waiting and hoping to find one of the most sought-after items of the morning: A shopping cart.

The way she figured, someone might surrender a shopping cart before leaving the mall. Standing by the door, she'd be in the perfect position to pounce.

Kelly, who is 28 and lives in Windsor, arrived at the mall about 11 p.m. Thursday with two friends.

They hit the Disney store, cleaning up on $10 dolls.

They had good luck at Nike.

They had good luck at other stores, too, though at the moment their names escaped Kelly.

"I don't even know what I bought, I'm so tired," she said, a little bleary-eyed.

Still, her resolve remained strong: "I'm leaving with all my shopping done, that's all I know."

And then, while her friends were on a cigarette break, she scored: a shopping cart!

A short time later, three friends were on their way to finish their shopping.

"To me, it's worth coming," she said.

By Greta Guest, Free Press business writer

Deals bring out the inner children in Black Friday shoppers

For Jessica Edward, 22, of Warren, the deals at the Disney Store at Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights were unbeatable.

"The Disney Store had great deals for real," Edward said, coming out of the store with two large bags filled with items such as remote-control cars for $8, fleece throws for $8 and toddler dolls of the Disney princesses for $8.

There she and her sister Kim Edward, 19, of Warren were able to buy Christmas presents for six kids in the family for $85 with each kid getting two things.

The store, which opened for the first time at midnight, had many deals for under $20 including the toddler dolls for $10. With the 20% discount on everything in the store until 10 a.m. Friday, that became an $8 deal. Excluded items were DVDs and Disney park tickets.

Across the mall's parking lot, Kohl's opened at 3 a.m. to dancing and shouts of joy. Nadine Bauer, 34, of Windsor, Ontario, was so elated when the store finally opened. She had been out in the chilly night for two hours waiting in line for her first Black Friday shopping experience with three friends.

"We are just having a great time," said Bauer, as she scooped up loads of comforters and sheets for herself and friends from sale bins and admitted she didn't know how much they cost. The comforters were 50-60% off regular price, according to the Kohl's circular.

"I didn't know what color they wanted, so I'm just grabbing everything," Bauer said.

Amy Abdelnour, 23, of Chesterfield Township was standing guard by an overloaded Kohl's shopping cart just 10 minutes after the store opened. Her friend was continuing to grab items and bring them back to the cart.

It was stacked chin high with early bird deals on Shark Deluxe Steam Mops priced at $49.99 from $109.99, bar stools for $24.99 from $69.99 and wheeled duffel bags priced at $19.99 from $79.99.

Abdelnour, who was shopping Black Friday for the first time, was exhilarated by the experience.

"We both grabbed carts and ran in. It's like an adrenaline rush," she said. "We probably don't need it all, but it's such a good deal."

Her friend Lana Onciu, 28, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., who is visiting for the holidays, is a Black Friday pro. She even scanned each item before putting it in her cart to make sure it was the early bird deal.

"I feel really happy. I got everything I wanted," Onciu said.

By Greta Guest, Free Press business writer

Follow the latest deals with Free Press Shopping Columnist Georgea Kovanis, Business reporters Greta Guest and Zlati Meyer as they cover Black Friday throughout the day. They are on too @freepdeals.

Follow Georgea Kovanis on

Follow the Free Press shopping team on Black Friday for the latest bargains in Metro Detroit

Source: Copyright (c) 2010, Detroit Free Press. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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