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Shoppers ran through the doors at the stroke of midnight Friday at Best Buy in Oakdale. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker

'Black Thursday' shopping stealing spotlight from holiday festivities?

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Gone are the days of waking up at the crack of dawn, standing in frigid temperatures waiting for stores to open and racing to score some Black Friday deals.

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Is "Black Thursday" the new Black Friday?

This year, a number of retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day, giving shoppers a few more hours to shop for the deals they've been waiting for all year long.

While Walmart officials decided to open at 8 p.m., Target said its stores will open at 9 p.m.

Best Buy and Kohl's will open at midnight again, and the Woodbury Michael's will be open from 4-11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

But not everyone is as excited as retailers about the new hours.

"I think that's awful," said Connie Halfpenny of Woodbury. "For crying out loud, we can't even have Thanksgiving?"

Halfpenny is hosting Thanksgiving this year, where her three children and 10 grandchildren will gather at her Woodbury home.

She's never been a fan of Black Friday, let alone shopping on the holiday itself.

"I am not a shopper and the crowds are even worse," she said.

Others agree with Halfpenny and said don't mess with tradition - the one day of the year people get together to appreciate what they've got.

"No deal is that great," Beth Dempsy said. "I think it really takes away from a family day."

She said she doesn't shop either on Friday or Thursday and she doesn't think it's right to go out and buy more stuff right after thinking about what we're thankful for.

But she added, "Everybody has an idea of what the day should be."

Dara Stinehagen said she did the whole standing in line thing at Best Buy last year when the store opened at midnight.

And she didn't get in to buy her television until 2 a.m.

"People were almost fighting," she said after one customer cut in front of the line.

The savings, however, were worth it, she said, adding that she saved about $300 on that TV.

But this year, the Woodbury woman doesn't need electronics and she might go just for some fun shopping on Black Friday, not leave Thanksgiving celebrations the night before.

Rachel Turnquist of Woodbury was at Toys "R" Us last year buying presents for her two children. She said her Black Friday shopping experience was a little "scary" with how the crowds act to score bargains.

To avoid standing in lines this year, she's planning to tag team with friends; one can go to the checkout line while the other grabs the merchandise.

Although she sees some benefits to Black Friday, Qin Tang, who writes the "On My Mind" blog featured on the Bulletin website, once referred to it as "Buy Nothing Day."

"(It) shifts our focus on Thanksgiving from internal to external, from building meaningful relationships to finding good deals, from enjoying time together and relaxing to rushing out the door and buying more stuff," she said. "It only encourages more consumerism and materialism in our already very materialistic society."

The mother of two teenagers said young people are facing more temptations and more peer pressure to acquire more electronics, games and gadgets.

"This creates more challenges for parents like me," she said. "I think the more stuff we buy; the more we try to fill our lives with things, the emptier our lives get."

Black Friday shopping continues to lure thousands of shoppers, though, which is what drove retailers to open even earlier.

"We heard from our guests that they look forward to kicking off their holiday shopping with deal-hunting on Thanksgiving night," said Kathee Tesija, executive vice president of merchandising at Target. "Opening at 9 p.m. gives Target's Black Friday guests a more convenient way to create an after-dinner shopping event that the entire family can enjoy."

Walmart is opening its doors at 8 p.m. and offering a "one-hour guarantee" deal from 10-11 p.m. for the first time ever.

"We know it's frustrating for customers to shop on Black Friday and not get the items they want," said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Walmart. "Customers that shop during Walmart's one-hour event will be guaranteed to have three of the most popular items under their tree."

Other stores in Woodbury are sticking with old and the not so old Black Friday traditions.

JC Penney is opening at 6 a.m. Friday, Woodbury Lakes clothing stores like Express, Gap and Aeopostale are opening at midnight, and Sports Authority will also open at midnight.

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Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.
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