Pam Shipley is ready for Black Friday, but contrary to the name of the shopping event, by the wee hours of Thursday morning she planned to be shopping locally, and she already was shopping online Wednesday night.
The veteran Black Friday Kingsport shopper earlier Wednesday said she planned to do online shopping Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, then head out to local retail stores after eating Thanksgiving dinner in search of a 62-inch television, iPhone 6 cell phone, laptop computer and vacuum cleaner, among other things.
“That’s one of the things we’re on the lookout for,” Shipley said Wednesday afternoon of the TV, which is for her father, while the phone and vacuum are for her younger daughter and the laptop is for her. (Note to her dad: Don’t read this paragraph, although she said you already know that’s what she’s getting you. Act surprised anyway.)
“I’m going to try to do online tonight (Wednesday night) but sometimes that doesn’t work,” Shipley said. “The TV I’m using right now is one of the Black Friday specials, and we’ve been using it for three or four years.” Sometimes she said the TVs are more basic or stripped-down models, but she said others have the “bells and whistles” of more expensive sets. The one she wants is less than $280 at Walmart, which begins offering Black Friday deals at 6 p.m.
Walmart also has a doorbuster 40-inch TV for just less than $100 and a 50-inch one for just less than $150, but the supply is limited and the retailer ceased item guarantees, good by Christmas even if stock ran out, a few years ago. So to get a doorbuster there, you must be there when sales begin at 6 p.m. or go online. But the retailer is offering hot drinks and snacks starting at 4 p.m., so Shipley said she’ll probably get there early enough for that.
Thursday’s print versions of the Kingsport Times News and Johnson City Press have inserts for all sorts of Black Friday sales, easily making these Thursday papers thicker than most any other time of the year, which generally holds true for daily newspapers across the United States. Also, websites that track and rate Black Friday deals include The Black Friday.com and BFAds.net, and most national retailers have websites and opt-in emails with Black Friday, pre-Black Friday and post-Black Friday deals.
WHAT IS HER SCHEDULE?
For most of her family and friends, the Black Friday shopping will end late Thursday night or early Friday morning, but Shipley said she’ll be back out in the fray on Saturday. “The rest of them don’t get back out on Friday, but I do,” Shipley said.
And, she added, she won’t forget the towels and pajamas. She said folks tend to be very interested in the sales on towels that have become a Black Friday tradition.
Towels, household items, small appliances, movies and other items are in-store only in many instances, at least for the best Black Friday deals.
At Walmart, she said the group she shops with stations one person strategically with a buggy, and then everybody splits up to get the items they want or ones assigned to them, bringing them back to the buggy. Sometimes, she said, a buggy simply gets in the way in crowded aisles of bargain shoppers.
After some late-night online shopping or at least attempts on Wednesday, Shipley said she would probably hit the 24-hour CVS and Walgreens locations for deals shortly after midnight Thursday morning, earning extra reward points.
Then, after Thanksgiving dinner, she and family will go out to hit things such as the JCPenney sale that starts at 2 p.m. and maybe other Fort Henry Mall retailers whenever they open, including Bath and Body Works, which she said allows you to “stack” coupons and offers, and Belk, which opens at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, she plans to hit Target and Kohl’s, as well as Lowe’s and Home Depot and anywhere she wanted to go that wasn’t open at the mall on Thursday.
WHAT ABOUT TALES OF BLACK FRIDAYS PAST?
Shipley said she plans a trip to Bass Pro Shop in the Pinnacle, a shopping destination in Bristol, Tennessee, and may look at other stores while there. She said last year she and her shopping posse tried to go to Pinnacle on Black Friday but turned back “because it was so crazy.”
“We came back the next day,” she said. A trip to Johnson City to shop probably will come Friday or Saturday, she said.
As for Black Fridays past she can’t revisit, Shipley said she misses Kmart, which closed in Kingsport in early 2019. Sears at the mall is another iconic retailer no longer in Kingsport. Kmart has no more stores in the Tri-Cities, and the last Sears, in Johnson City, is closing in January and is in closeout mode this holiday season. However, she said she still shops both retailers online and uses loyalty card points.
“I’m going to miss Kmart this year,” Shipley said of the retailer, whose former space in Kingsport is being used by UHaul. “That was one of my places to go.”
Best Buy also closed in Kingsport recently, but a new store is coming to the Pinnacle next year and one is already in Johnson City.
Shipley’s Black Friday shopping time goes back to when TVs had cathode ray tubes instead of LED flat screens, when cell phones came in a bag or were permanently installed in a vehicle and when Radio Shack was still in business and a major computer retailer. The vacuum is probably the least-changed larger item on her list.
“I’ve been doing this, standing in line, since me kids were little,” Shipley said. “I did it when I didn’t have any kids.”
Even with the internet, she said the thrill of grabbing a bargain in person is why she keeps shopping Black Friday sales year after year.