While most were at home sleeping off the Thanksgiving turkey they devoured for dinner, many braved the suffocating crowds and cold weather to get a head start on Christmas shopping late Thursday night.
Black Friday, as it has been called for years, brought out families, teens and parents to get the best deals on electronics, toys and whatever else is on Christmas lists this year.
While many studies show most people are turning to the Internet for Black Friday savings, plenty lined up to go shopping at stores like Target, Kohls, Best Buy and the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets, which were overcrowded with car parked seemingly anywhere there was space.
Target in Leesburg opened its doors at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and had a line stretching from the front door all the way behind Costco.
Despite the crowds, Target’s operation was running smoothly, and, according to Store Team Leader Matt Thomas, the superstore had been planning for weeks.
“We will be letting people in 25 at time through a single file door. Myself and security will be there for safety reasons,” Thomas said. “We start this process weeks and months ago because it all must be approved by corporate and everybody.”
Shelby McKeever and Chris Meade from Leesburg were the first people in line and arrived around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“There was nobody here when we got here and this is the first time we have ever been up front. We have done this every year for the last 10 years or so,” McKeever said. “We got snacks and drinks at the Mobil on the way over and we have just been having a big old time.”
According to Thomas, the Target team was expected upwards of 1,300 people to be shop with them during their business hours Friday.
While Target was friendly, cordial and generally fun, the people in line at Best Buy apparently forgot it was Thanksgiving, as they were getting a little hostile with one another around 10 p.m. for a midnight opening.
People in line were accusing others of cutting in line and store staff diffused the situation before the Leesburg Police, on scene for precautionary purposes, had to step in and start escorting customers off the premises.
One group at Best Buy began camping out in front of the store as early as Tuesday afternoon.
The popular Leesburg Corner Outlets was a madhouse to get into and all the stores opened at different times.
Old Navy opened its store at 10 p.m. and Operations Manager Marlen Mills noted they had been planning the Friday for a couple weeks.
“The operations manager here at the mall gave all the stores the option about a month ago of opening whenever they wanted to. We chose to open up at 10 p.m. Thursday night and in years past we have had the line wrapped around the store and back out the door and we’ll usually hold drawings for additional coupons and things like that to help the customers in line pass the time and to keep them from getting bored.”
Both Mills and Thomas predicted their entire staffs would work a shift at some point Friday.
“With about 330 team members, we expect 330 team members to work a shift on Black Friday,” Thomas said. “It is our busiest and most profitable day of the year and we made sure our staff would be willing to work Friday and they have been nothing but supportive.”
“We have about 55 staff members and usually about 15-20 of them are working at a time, but all of them will be working at some point during our 10 p.m. Thursday to 10 p.m. Friday hours,” Mills said. “As managers we insure they are taking their breaks when they are supposed to and support them when a problem comes up with a customer.”
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