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Local residents swarm retailers for Black Friday bargains

Rick Wagner • Nov 24, 2018 at 7:30 AM

KINGSPORT — They came, they shopped, they went somewhere else and they shopped some more.

Black Friday 2018 hit the Model City as it did cities and towns across the nation.

Before some folks even had time to eat the turkey, dressing and all the fixings, Black Friday deals and sales abounded. The two Kingsport Walmarts are open 24 hours a day except Christmas, although their big sales didn’t kick off until 6 p.m. Thursday.

Big Lots opened at 7 a.m. while Target and Best Buy opened at 5 p.m.

On Friday morning, it started all over again, with stores opening earlier than usual and many staying open well past their normal closing time.

However, more shopping is on the horizon. Saturday is Small Business Saturday, an event promoted by American Express to help smaller retailers, and some stores downtown will be having special events. Cyber Monday is the designated day for online deals.

WHERE WERE YOU AT 2 P.M. THANKSGIVING DAY?

A couple of hundred folks were in a line at JCPenney at the Fort Henry Mall, awaiting free coupons that were at least $10 off $10 or more, with one lucky shopper getting a $500 off $500 or more. Belk did the same type of promotion three hours later.

A couple shopping at JCPenney balked at a housewares deal requiring a rebate submission. A clerk said rebate forms or links were available online and would have information about submitting a claim, but the couple said they missed one last year because a required form was not packaged with the item as it was supposed to be. A check online found rebate forms that could be submitted by email or regular mail.

In the long line to get inside JCPenney a few minutes earlier, some folks were talking about air fryers, an item many retailers were promoting heavily. The deal at JCPenney was $59.99 with a rebate in the form of a $20 Visa.

Across town at Best Buy, the line snaked about halfway around the building as shoppers, some of whom had arrived at 4 a.m., waited for the 5 p.m. opening. The store closed at 1 a.m. on Black Friday, but it reopened seven hours later, corporate spokeswoman Katie Huggins said.

At Best Buy on Black Friday afternoon, a woman and her husband from Church Hill were shopping. She declined to be identified but said she went to the Pinnacle in Bristol Thursday, as well as the Fort Henry Mall. She was looking for wireless Apple AirPods earbuds.

Nearby, John Simpson of Kingsport and his girlfriend were shopping for a laptop, making only their second stop of the day. This year, they did not get out on Thursday afternoon or in the wee hours of Friday.

“Traditionally, we do Black Friday shopping for Christmas Angels,” Simpson said of a program in some local schools. “We just weren’t going to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning.”

Over in the video games, 10-year-old Alexis Collins of Kingsport and her father were playing “Mario Kart” on a Nintendo Switch while her mom shopped. Alexis said she plays the game often at her baby-sitters’.

ANY SHOPPING DISTURBANCES?

Reviews.org has reported that Tennessee is the second most likely state for Black Friday violence. The state with the highest risk is Arkansas, while West Virginia is third, North Carolina fourth and Alabama fifth. On the other extreme, the least likely for Black Friday violence were, in order, Vermont, Oregon, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

However, apparently nobody told folks in Kingsport they were supposed to act up, at least those observed by a newspaper reporter.

In the chaos Thursday, most people were polite and said “excuse me” or “pardon me” in the crowded stores and pandemonium of searching for a specific movie or television show in the DVD displays at Target and Walmart.

One reason might have been that many large doorbuster items were in plentiful supply. Veteran Black Friday shopper Pam Shipley of Kingsport said she believes there were fewer doorbusters at some retailers but that they the items were in good supply and that Walmart still had some Friday evening. She got the phones and games she wanted online and a host of PJ Mask items for her grandson at local stores. She was still shopping Friday evening and planned to continue Saturday.

WANT A TV WITH THAT YOGURT?

At the Walmart on Stone Drive, for instance, a $99 40-inch Hisense television was still available at 7 p.m., an hour after the sale started at 6 p.m. An announcement in the store said the TVs were still available “near the yogurt,” and it turns out they were stacked 12 feet high on multiple pallets. Nearby, folks went through DVDs as employees tried to straighten the displays.

At Target, which opened at 5 p.m., TV deals likewise were neatly displayed and grouped in food aisles and mostly still available at 5:30 p.m. They included a 40-inch Westinghouse smart TV for $124.99.

At JCPenney, stacks of slow cookers and air fryers awaited shoppers at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Ironically, they were snapped up by shoppers who might have had an early turkey meal or delayed it until after going out to buy something.

 

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