Black Friday

Published 11:15 am Friday, November 28, 2008

By just a little after 6 this morning all 20 checkouts at the Wal-Mart Supercenter here were open with lines stretching 10 to 15 shoppers each back into the store.

All those who came out with shopping carts crammed to the top, mostly with toys and the occasional utilitarian vacuum cleaner, agreed it was a madhouse in there.

“It’s awful, those long lines. It’s crazy,” said Becky Cremeans of Pedro, who had hit the shopping center around 5 to get the bargains on the Wii’s at Sam’s Club. On her Christmas list were two children and several nieces and nephews.

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That done she decided to forego the long wait at the Wal-Mart checkout, she said, just to save a few dollars.

Huddled by the door of the discount department store was a Salvation Army Santa, getting an extra early start on the charity scene. He said it had been a steady stream of customers with most coming out with arms loaded.

He declined to volunteer on how many had stopped at his distinctive red check out counter.

Foreclosures, banking industry bailouts, massive AK Steel layoffs and the auto industry claiming ruin failed to keep local bargain hunters away from the traditional Black Friday shopping extravaganza where consumers are convinced the best and brightest sales are there for the earliest of buying birds.

However, this year many surveyed agreed cutbacks in the shopping budget were going to happen.

Probably by 30 percent was the figure Cremeans expected she’d be cutting back on this holiday season.

“It was crazy,” Misty Morrow of South Point said after she came out of the store, where she saw buyers grabbing relentlessly to get good buys on DVDs. “People were getting hurt.”

“Your Barbie Dream Car is going to fall off,” a friend called out to Letitia Fox who was pushing a cart so full it was past overflowing.

“This is about half,” Fox said about what she plans to get this year. The South Point mother has to do double duty this month with her son celebrating his 4th birthday on Dec. 9 plus Christmas for her 2-year-old daughter as well.

“There were some deals,” she said.

Down the road at the Chesapeake K-Mart that opened up at 6 a.m. the store manager who declined to give his name reported an equal amount of buying activity.

“I’m so busy that I can’t talk to you.”