Although he didn’t agree with the idea of Thanksgiving and “Gray Thursday” — a nickname given to the holiday shopping day before Black Friday — coexisting on the same day, he still wanted to buy his five-year-old granddaughter a camera and some Barbie toys.
But only after he enjoyed his Thanksgiving dinner, of course.
“I wouldn’t spend all day — no way,” the 72-year-old said when asked how long he had been waiting in line. “I have before, but not anymore.”
According to Nancy King Dennis, a spokeswoman with the Alabama Retail Association, stores may have decided to open up earlier this year because the holiday shopping season is five days shorter than usual.
Shoppers did not disappoint. By 3 p.m. a line of about 30 had already formed outside the Best Buy in Oxford, which was scheduled to open at 6 p.m. More than 20 people were outside the Target in Oxford, scheduled to open at 8 p.m., while Quintard Mall had its share by 5 p.m.
Cousins Megan Williams, 20, and Megan Brown, 16, were among the four people waiting outside the Old Navy in the Oxford Exchange around 4 p.m. The two cousins were tag-team shopping with the rest of their family who were spread out at various stores including Walmart and Target.
Brown said she was excited that various stores decided to open their doors earlier than usual because this year shoppers will be able to get in and out of them at decent hours.
“I think it’s good for the people who actually have to work tomorrow and want the savings but can’t afford to stay up until four in the morning,” she said. “Stores opening at different times is good, too, because the traffic won’t be as bad. If they all opened at midnight then everyone would be leaving at the same time and the roads would be dangerous.”
Mother and father team Aarti Patel, 32, and Sunny Patel, 40, were the first two in line at Best Buy in the Oxford Exchange Thursday. They said they had been standing in line since 6 o’clock in the morning because they wanted to buy electronics for their three sons.
“We really need to buy my baby an Xbox or a laptop,” Aarti said.
The Patels said that even though they had been standing in line all day, they planned on celebrating Thanksgiving after they finished shopping. More dedicated shoppers, on the other hand, skipped the holiday altogether.
Matt Schmitz, 37, from Eastaboga was one of the first shoppers in line at Target Thursday. Schmitz said the only thing he wanted to buy was a 50-inch television set for $229, and in order to do so he set up his camp — a travel heater, blanket, and a folding chair — a full day ahead of time.
“I was here at 8 p.m. last night,” he said. Schmitz said the two people in line behind him, Oxford residents Tawana Garett, 39, and Tony Swain, 35, arrived shortly after he did, around 8:30 p.m.
Garett and Swain, who were both covered head-to-toe in blankets and warm clothes, said they skipped the Thanksgiving holiday because they wanted to buy gifts for their friends.
“I do it every year,” Garett said.
When asked about the store’s earlier hours, Garett said, “I love it. It makes it a lot easier to get what you want and you don’t have to wait as long.”
“I was going to get a TV anyway, but if I can get it for half price I can buy more stuff and get more things for more people,” he said.
Dennis said another reason stores open their doors earlier and earlier every year is because they know people will come.
“There’s a whole group of shoppers who would prefer to shop after their Thanksgiving meal instead of waking up at 5 a.m. to go shopping on Black Friday,” Dennis said. “As long as shoppers show up, stores will continue to open up earlier.”
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.