Shoppers feast on deals

Five-year-old Makenia Young of Grand Junction grins at her mother, Amber, as the two stand outside Old Navy on Thanksgiving Day, waiting for the store to open at 9 a.m.  They stayed in their warm car until a few minutes before the sale started.

Before many families in the Grand Valley got out of bed to place a turkey in the oven and flip on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, dozens of deal-seeking shoppers swarmed every department at Sears in Mesa Mall.

The store opened at 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving for the first time in its history and remained open until noon. Store Manager Jeff Long said being open on Thanksgiving is not about thinning crowds for Black Friday because some of the deals offered are different on the two days. Instead, being open on a holiday was intended to offer people another opportunity to shop, he said.

“It’s such a competitive market now, I think they wanted to get a jump” on holiday sales, Long said of his employer. “I think what we’ll see is a lot of the people that are waiting to eat, know that Sears is open, and want to see what deals we’re running.”

Sandy Riley said she was at Sears shortly after it opened Thursday for “The sales, what else?” She and her daughter, Cori Cnudde, had a turkey in the oven but no big plans for the day, they said.

“We’re from Michigan, and hardly have any family here, so we decided to go shopping,” Cnudde said.

Kmart at 2809 North Ave. has been open for years on Thanksgiving and it’s always been popular with shoppers, according to Manager Kathy Braslin.

“It’s very, very busy,” Braslin said. “There’s a lot of people here first thing in the morning.”

Most Thanksgiving customers are there to buy, not snoop for purchases they’ll make the next day, Braslin said. It’s a sentiment Old Navy Store Manager Freda Psenick agrees with. Psenick said Old Navy in Grand Mesa Center opened at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving last year. The response was so good, with shoppers coming in and buying at a consistent pace, that the store decided to move its opening time to 9 a.m. this Thanksgiving.

This year, about 15 people waited outside the store for a few moments before doors opened and more filtered in as the day went on. Roy and Yolanda Huerta said Old Navy was their second shopping destination that morning after Kmart, which opened at 6 a.m.

Roy Huerta said he was there for the sales and to buy presents for the family. Although some shopped the day before to avoid the busyness of Black Friday, Huerta was not in that category.

“Tomorrow we’ll go to the rest of the stores,” he said.

Old Navy re-opened for Black Friday at midnight, just four hours after closing time on Thanksgiving. Psenick said she tries to keep employees energized by offering breakfast, lunch and dinner on Black Friday, plus Starbucks gift cards and a coffee bar for managers. For her, the reward in Black Friday is simply watching throngs of customers search for deals.

“I enjoy the rush. It’s fun,” she said.

Employees volunteered to work on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and managers brought Thanksgiving food for an employee meal at the store Thursday. Psenick said her husband works at a hospital so her Thanksgiving feast is usually scheduled for a couple days after Turkey Day, anyway. Other workers are college students with families miles away.

“It’s like a family away from home for them,” Psenick said of colleagues.


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