While some Franklin County residents laid on their couches in turkey-induced comas, several businesses in Ottawa were gearing up for Black Friday — on Thanksgiving.
The area’s larger chain stores opened their doors earlier again this year in hopes of gaining an advantage over the competition. Sears, Walmart Supercenter and Orscheln Farm and Home were just a handful of retailers in Ottawa that opened to shoppers on Thanksgiving with special pricing on select items.
“We were open [Thanksgiving] from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Tell Alexander, store manager at Orscheln Farm and Home, 2008 S. Princeton St., Ottawa, said. “Last year was the first year we were open for Thanksgiving and this was the second year. ... It’s probably not going to go away.”
A hashtag on Twitter — #WalmartFights — is trending, showcasing various Thanksgiving and Black Friday altercations among shoppers. Alexander said he was thankful it was a pretty quiet Thanksgiving and Black Friday in Ottawa.
“We opened at 6 a.m. when we normally open at 7:30 a.m., so just a little earlier than usual,” he said. “We probably had about 15 to 20 people waiting outside when we opened and it really didn’t get busy in here until about 10 a.m. I’ve seen videos on Facebook of different Walmart fights and that’s just crazy.”
With sales like $200 off gun safes and 25 percent off all leather boots and jeans, Alexander said Thanksgiving and Black Friday shaped up to be two of the biggest shopping days of the season.
“Actually, it looks like Thanksgiving and the day after will be in the top three busiest days of the year,” he said. “This was only the second year [being open on Thanksgiving] and we just about doubled our sales from this year compared to last year.”
With little sleep this week, Nathan Boyd said it’s the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Black Friday that are the most difficult.
“I think I’m running on about five hours of sleep in the past two days,” Boyd, store manager at Sears, 220 S. Main St., Ottawa, said. “We opened at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving and it was very busy. Then we opened again at 6 a.m. Friday.”
More stores are giving shoppers the choice of shopping early Black Friday or the night before on Thanksgiving, making for a slower Black Friday, Boyd said.
“A lot of people were shopping late [Thursday] night,” he said. “It usually picks back up around Friday afternoon.”
Extra staff is brought on during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the remainder of the holiday shopping season, Boyd said, and for good reason.
“We we first opened [Thursday night], we had 75 to 80 people in line just waiting to buy,” he said. “And probably another 30 to 40 customers just shopping.”
Smaller purchases seem to be made on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Boyd said, with larger things like appliances purchased the following weekend.
“We bring on a couple extra delivery guys for the next month and a half for the increase in business,” he said. “Thursday night and Friday morning is smaller stuff and then this weekend and stuff is when we start getting into bigger-ticket items.”
Shoppers didn’t necessarily have to brave the early morning crowds for great deals, nor were they forced to travel far for big discounts.
“I went to Walmart [Friday] at midnight, when all the big sales were over,” Bethany Anderson wrote on The Herald’s Facebook page. “They still had a few TVs, plenty of $50 cameras, plenty of Nintendo DS2s. My husband and I got what we thought we’d like to have without having to deal with a huge crowd! Walmart was like a ghost town [by that time]!”
Other shoppers didn’t even bother going out on Black Friday, but rather managed to do all their shopping on Thanksgiving.
“Old Navy at 11:30 a.m., a Kmart closeout after that, then made it to Walmart by 4 p.m. and was there until 9 p.m. and then to Target,” Michelle Hamilton wrote on The Herald’s Facebook page. “Got $50 tablets, a carpet cleaner, and a new phone for the nephew. Also, a pretty sweet gaming chair and storage ottoman. $740 later, I’m exhausted and a little broke, but it was worth all of the fun and memories.”
Not all stores opened their doors on Thanksgiving. DIY Supply, 2204 S. Princeton Circle Dr., Ottawa, kept its doors and savings closed until Black Friday, Austin DeBrine said.
“We only get two days off completely and that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas,” DeBrine, store manager, said. “We opened at 7:30 a.m. which is our normal opening time.”
Though the store wasn’t open on Thanksgiving, DeBrine said Black Friday morning was fairly busy, then slowly died off in the afternoon.
“I wasn’t here last year on Black Friday,” DeBrine said of the store, which opened in October 2012. “But from what I’ve heard it was kind of dead in here, so we’re already doing better than last year.”