November 28, 2014

Elyria
Intermittent clouds
25°F
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Ultra-early shoppers secure best local deals

If shoppers wanted to score the good deals on Black Friday, they had to arrive early — something Mychael Martin learned the hard way.

Martin arrived at Best Buy at Midway Mall at 11:30 p.m. He was one of the last in line, which snaked around the building, past Harry Buffalo.

Martin remained in good spirits, however.

“It’s cold, and I’m from Ohio, so I just thought, hey, what the hell?” he said.

His mission was to score a new cell phone for his girlfriend, Katelyn Carty, who remained faithfully by his side.

“Yeah, I need one,” Carty said.

Martin, the doting boyfriend, happily obliged.

“I’m standing in line for a phone I’m not going to get. … I’m actually standing here because I’m in love,” he said.

But if Martin and Carty really wanted to ensure snagging a phone, they would have waited in line as long as Anthony and Joslen Jeter, of Elyria, who arrived at Best Buy at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The two, along with friend Louis Figueroa, of Lorain, camped out since then but had to take their tent down shortly before the store’s opening. Anthony Jeter said the three took turns to get food and sleep in the car, spending their Thanksgiving in line.

“It was quite an experience, I guess. It was pretty cold,” said Anthony Jeter.

The three were waiting for the big door-buster deal — a Toshiba 40-inch LCD 1080p HDTV for $179.99. The television was on sale for less than half its original price, for a savings of $240.

There were only a limited number of televisions in the store, and each customer in line received a ticket for the item they wanted. Once they received a ticket, it was a waiting game for the store to open at midnight.

Anthony Jeter received his ticket earlier that night, a reward for his patience.

“It’s worth the wait. … Basically, I already have what I want,” he said.

Jeter said that although it was his first time shopping on Black Friday, he would do it again. For customers like David Ridner, though, the night was a bust.

Ridner waited for four hours, but he didn’t get to the mall soon enough for the deals.

“If you wait too long, it’s not worth it,” he said. “I’m not sure I want to do this again.”

Arriving early is important, said David Monahan, store manager at the Kmart on Leavitt Road in Lorain, who spent his birthday on Friday at the store.

Monahan said the busiest times were around 8 p.m. Thursday, with televisions, DVD players and computers selling out. Many customers arrived early Thursday to wait for Friday sales.

Monahan said everything went well, however, and he expected a steady stream of customers throughout the day.

“We had a great day,” he said.

Holly Huff said her shopping went well at Walmart in Elyria — the store was well organized and employees were helpful. She did run into a little trouble at Sears, though.

Huff said crowds of people were flocking to the escalators, so she took the elevator. But everyone else had the same idea and after eight others piled into the elevator, it got stuck between the first and second floors.

“It was scary,” she said. “I was ready to dial 911, but I didn’t have cell phone service.”

Huff was in the elevator for two to three minutes before employees got the elevator working again.

Despite the incident in the elevator, Lt. Chris Costantino, of the Elyria Police Department said everything went smoothly Thursday night into Friday morning. Off-duty police officers were hired at Target, Best Buy and Walmart, but there were no real problems.

Julie Riley, store manager of the JCPenney at Midway Mall, reported everything went smoothly at the store as well. JCPenney opened at 6 a.m., unlike other retailers who opened at midnight.

“We definitely had more (shoppers) this year than in years past,” she said, estimating around 500 people waited by the doors early Friday morning for the store to open.

Shoes were the big draw, with customers walking purposefully to the shoe section, grabbing several boxes. Riley said $8 appliances were also a big sell.

Julie Taylor, of Elyria, was shopping with her friend, who scored an $8 blender at JCPenney. That was the best deal, she said, adding that she didn’t have much luck anywhere else.

Black Friday shopping is a tradition for Taylor, who has gone every year. This year, she went out at 3:30 a.m. to find the deals at Target, Sears and Kmart.

“It’s the thrill of the hunt” that brings her out, she said.

Other shoppers reported buying coats at Kohl’s for $120 off the original price, a 32-inch flat-screen television at Sears for $97 and a Nook at Walmart for $99, according to posts on The Chronicle-Telegram’s Facebook page.

Many commented saying that they preferred the convenience of online shopping to facing crowds and lines.

According to a survey from ClickFox, a customer analytics company, more than 60 percent of consumers said they would do the bulk of their shopping online this year. The customers said such sites delivered better services than personal contact with store associates.

For those who do go out shopping next year for Black Friday, Monahan offered some tips to ease the frustration.

“First, they have to know what they want, because we had some people who really didn’t know what they wanted,” he said. “We had some people that wanted a TV, but they didn’t know which TV. Well, we had three TVs on sale. Depending on which TV it was, it was in different areas of the store.”

Monahan suggested future Black Friday shoppers read through the ads and have a map of the store ahead of time. Getting the best deals often requires going to the correct locations to wait in line for an item, he said.

He said customers must also be aware of what they’re getting into.

“When (Black Friday) starts, it starts hard,” he said. “It’s like your first boyfriend. It’s great in the beginning and everyone’s excited, and then it just kind of slows down. But when it starts, it’s a rush. It’s big time.”

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.