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Shoppers cut holiday short
Black Friday shopping creeps into Thanksgiving

 Reyna Herrera and her brother, Cameron Aviles, 15 months, wait outside the Toys R Us at Central Park on Thursday.
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/23/2012

By BILL FREEHLING

BY CATHY JETT AND BILL FREEHLING

Olga Deza worried when she learned that Target had only a limited number of Xbox 360 bundles for its Black Friday doorbuster deal.

Determined to get one at $199 for her 12-year-old son, the Spotsylvania County mom postponed Thanksgiving dinner so she could be first in line at the Central Park store. She snagged the spot at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

"We'll eat at midnight," she said. "My husband is home cooking."

Target employees began handing out tickets at 6 p.m. for the 24 50-inch Westinghouse TVs advertised for $349 to Deza, who wanted one for her husband, and the handful of others waiting in line.

But the store wouldn't open for three more hours, which was still earlier than last year, when it opened at midnight. Tonita Deza, Deza's daughter-in-law, said she preferred the earlier time.

"People are not as tired and frustrated," she said. "We're already up, so why not?"

Lecia Rhodes of King George County, who was just behind the Dezas at Target, has been shopping for Black Friday deals for 20 years. She said she liked not having to wait in the cold and dark this time, but felt sorry for employees who had to cut their Thanksgiving dinner short.

Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season, has been getting earlier and earlier. This year a few stores opened Thanksgiving morning. Among those were Old Navy, Gander Mountain and Kmart.

About 70 people were waiting outside Gander Mountain off State Route 3 in Spotsylvania when the store opened at 9 a.m. Thursday, said store manager Matt Watson. Many were looking for deals on turkey fryers, apparel and firearms.

Watson said Gander Mountain has opened on Thanksgiving for the past five years. The store was open Thursday until midnight, which is longer than in past years. Employees worked shorter shifts Thursday--between four and six hours--so they could have time with their families, he said. They'll return today when the store opens for Black Friday at 6 a.m.

Still, area shopping centers were virtually deserted late Thursday afternoon, except for a handful of restaurants and Walmarts, where employees stood guard over shrink-wrapped piles of Black Friday items that wouldn't go on sale until 8 p.m.

Shane Buzby of Colonial Beach said he was so amazed to find a nearly empty parking lot in front of the h.h. gregg store in Central Park that he asked the two women who'd gotten there just before him at 5 p.m. Thursday if the store had closed.

He was thrilled to hear that it hadn't and that they didn't want the doorbuster deal on the TV he had his heart set on buying. But Buzby, who has been shopping for Black Friday deals for 10 years, said he preferred the time when stores didn't open until 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

"You did it all at one time," said Buzby, who planned to stop at several more stores before heading home. "Now it's spread over seven hours."

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
Email: cjett@freelancestar.com

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com