Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
Thanksgiving togetherness transformed into Black Friday madness as thousands of area residents hit the stores for the best shopping bargains as the holiday season begins.
Black Friday arrived in its usual style with thousands of bargain hunters looking for the best deals at dozens of area stores and malls. It was not only a busy day for customers, but for businesses as well.
“It’s been a good day for us, real busy much of the day,” said Brian Vincent at Infocus Camera and Imaging in Orange. “We had several people waiting on us when we opened the doors on Friday. Nikon had a big sale that people were really excited about, and Canon has some rebates available. Saturday will be a busy day for us as people start looking for other gifts outside of the Black Friday specials.”
Lauryn Freeman, a 17-year-old senior at Vidor High School, braved the shopping frenzy on Thursday evening at Wal-Mart in hopes of helping her sister find a Nook Color, which went on sale at 10 p.m., Thursday, according to the Wal-Mart advertisement.
“We got there by nine o’clock, and the Nook’s were already gone,” Lauryn said. “We looked everywhere and asked about 10 different employees where they were supposed to be and got 10 different answers. The manager finally told us they were already gone. It was kind of frustrating for us.”
While many took their chances in store and waiting in line, others kept to the comfort of their homes and shopped online.
For decades, stores have opened their doors in wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. But this year, that changed when major chains from Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving itself, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair, according to the Associated Press.
That means that shoppers who wanted to fall into a turkey-induced slumber could still head out to stores early on Black Friday. Others could head straight from the dinner table to stores on Turkey Day. And stores were able to attract both groups by offering door buster sales from $179 40-inch flat-screen TVs to $10 jeans at different times of the day.
The National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, estimates that overall sales in November and December will rise 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, below last year's 5.6 percent growth. But the online part of that is expected to rise 15 percent to $68.4 billion, according to Forrester Research.
Shana Meche of Lake Charles, La. made what she thought would be a quick trip to Toys R Us on Friday afternoon to pick up an early gift for her son, but it turned out to be a bit more hectic than expected.
“I wouldn’t say it was chaos, but it was definitely busy,” Meche explained. “A lot of people were still out doing their shopping. I just planned to run in and get what I needed, but it still took over 30 minutes.”
Meche, a nursing student at McNeese State University, said she did much of her shopping online instead of traveling.
“I’ve been shopping for a while now online,” Meche added. “It’s just so much easier and you don’t have to fight the crowds. Some people kind of lose control in the frenzy of shopping.”
In San Antonio, the Associated Press reported a shopper brandished a handgun during a Black Friday scuffle at South Park Mall. According to San Antonio police, the man was within his rights.
Officers were dispatched to the mall’s Sears store about 9 p.m. Thursday in response to a call about a shooting, according to an incident report. When they arrived, they detained Jose Alonzo Salame, 33, who was holding a black 9 mm semi-automatic handgun with a black holster.
“We don't see this very often,” Officer Matthew Porter said, adding that Salame did not break the law by displaying the weapon. “He was within his rights.”
Police confiscated the gun, which was loaded and had one round in a chamber, the report says.
Salame reportedly showed proof that he had a concealed handgun license, and he told officers that he pulled the gun out to defend himself because he was punched in the face by Alejandro Alex, 35. Salame, who did not fire the weapon, said he feared further injury by Alex.
The store had opened its doors to Black Friday shoppers about an hour before the incident, which occurred as crowds packed into the store.
Witnesses reportedly told police that Salame had behaved rudely and had provoked the situation before pulling the handgun and pointing it at Alex, though San Antonio Police Sgt. Rob Carey said at the scene of the incident that he had actually pointed it at the ground.