The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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November 24, 2012

Black Friday madness starts early in Ashtabula County

Anxious shoppers once again battled Black Friday madness, only this time, shoppers had two choices: enjoy a quiet stuffed-full-of-turkey-and-pumpkin-pie day or shop instead.

As long as most folks can remember, stores usually open-ed in the early morning hours on the day after Thanksgiving that’s called Black Friday because that’s the day when retailers would show a profit for the year. But this year, stores such as Super Kmart, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us started their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving.

“The flow has been really good,” said Amy Burns, store manager of Super Kmart at Ashtabula Towne Square. “It’s going forward.”

It is unclear how many shoppers went to the earlier openings versus the traditional Black Friday hours, she said. But according to an International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers this month, about 17 percent planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day. That’s up 16 percent from last year when retailers tested the earlier hours.

Burns said Super Kmart shoppers seemed most interested in electronics and toys.

Shopper Abel Ladeau of Ashtabula started his holiday shopping at the mall at 4:30 a.m. Friday. Four hours later, he walked out with several shopping bags, including a big one from Bath and Body Works for his better half.

At Wal-Mart, Eileen Heath and her 9-year-old daughter, Daisy, ran into madness early Friday.

“We couldn’t get through the aisles because it was so crowded,” Heath said. “They started ripping (the plastic wrap on the crate) and tossing them to their friends.”

The dolls, regularly $50, were $15 Friday morning, she said.

Daisy said she couldn’t believe people were acting so crazy.

Many shoppers said they are worried about unemployment and the possibility of tax increases. At the same time, the stores’ earlier shopping hours are making it more convenient for people to spend their money.

Cheryl Cliff of Kingsville started shopping Thursday night at Wal-Mmart and continued through the night, wrapping up the spending spree at Kmart Friday morning.

“I don’t smoke and I don’t drink; I shop,” she said. “This is my one vice.”

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