Black Friday: Shoppers leave holiday behind, look for deals

Black Friday continued its assault on Thanksgiving.

The unofficial national shopping holiday that brings long lines and abundant “doorbuster” deals to stores started early this year, with many stores opening at 8 p.m. Thursday and some opening doors as early as 6 p.m.

It’s a consumer-driven phenomenon, Nittany Mall General Manager Lou Kanzleiter said. As long as people will come out to the stores, management will likely feel good about opening the doors. The mall opened at 8 p.m. and about 70 percent of the stores jumped on board.

“If the promotions are presented and they don’t shop, it wouldn’t be offered,” he said.

The mall had large groups of people at each entrance before the doors opened. Kanzleiter said the crowd was about typical, and the mall tried to make the experience more fun this year by organizing entertainment including a DJ.

He added that if someone told him five years ago that they would be opening this early, he wouldn’t have believed them, but he realizes this is the reality now.

Though the openings may have cut into some dinners, several of the customers said they liked the earlier times.

John Smith and Stacey Haubrick don’t usually make the trip out for Black Friday shopping, but they made an exception to grab some Christmas gifts this year because of the earlier opening.

Haubrick said they are able to go to a couple stores and get some gifts but still get home early enough to get a good night’s sleep.

Despite her lack of experience with the shopping day, she said she might come back in the future because she has fun sifting through items to find good deals.

Molly and Sam Hassinger are regular Black Friday shoppers, but they have differing opinions on the push into Thanksgiving Day.

Molly Hassinger said family time shouldn’t suffer because people are going out early trying to shop.

“I just think people should be with their families,” she said.

But Sam Hassinger said the influx of people on Thursday night makes it a little easier to navigate the stores Friday because fewer people show up the next day.

The pair now have a tradition of going out and getting a few things Thursday night, then waking up early Friday morning and driving to Altoona to finish their shopping spree. They said most of the time they will have a game plan and know exactly what they will be getting and which stores they will be going to.

After spending about an hour at the mall Thursday night, Molly Hassinger said she will likely wake up at about 4 or 5 a.m. to get ready for Friday.

The trend of early opening has been creeping further back in recent years, and Kanzleiter said he doesn’t know when it’s going to end.

“I think all bets are off as to where we go from here,” he said.