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Video of line-jumper being detained at Target

By BY ALLISON MILES and KAYLA BELL - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Nov. 25, 2011 at 5:25 a.m.
Updated Nov. 26, 2011 at 5:26 a.m.

Overall the mood among Black Friday shoppers can be upbeat and ever-hopeful, as the promise of cheap goods outweigh the shouting, jostling and aggressive behavior of the crowd.

Watching for deals

Holiday deals don't end once Black Friday is over. A National Retail Federation survey asked consumers how they planned to keep tabs on seasonal discounts. Here's what it found:

Read advertising circulars throughout the season: 50.5 percent

Watch for e-mailed coupons from retailers: 32.3 percent

Tune in to retailers' holiday commercials: 31.7 percent

Search coupon websites: 23.1 percent

Monitor retailers' Facebook pages: 17.3 percent

Search group-buying sites, such as Groupon: 11.3 percent

MOM AND POP BLACK FRIDAY

Big chain stores weren't the only ones offering Black Friday specials.

Locally owned shops such as Lauren Bade and Days Gone Bye also offered some sweet deals, though both opened at the usual time - 10 a.m.

Though downtown was mostly shut down for the weekend, Lauren Bade's store received a steady amount of traffic, some of whom came in for their 50 percent off clothing.

"It's been a lot busier than a normal Friday," said Kelsey Brown, who works at Lauren Bade.

A few blocks away, cars filled the parking lot of Days Gone Bye, which, by early Friday afternoon, was nearly sold out of a Pandora's Midnight Heart bracelet charm.

Shoes were buy-one, get-one-free, and customers who paid with cash got a 10 percent discount, said owner Pat McDonald.

Sales had already surpassed last year's, with four hours left of shopping Friday.

Like a lot of the corporate chains, Days Gone Bye's sale will continue to Saturday.

"We had a lot of fun with it, and it isn't over yet," McDonald said.

Casual couponistas take note, and basic bargain hunters beware: Friday was not a day for the faint of heart.

Crossroads consumers turned out in droves to take advantage of early-morning Black Friday deals.

One mother-daughter duo, who switched shopping roles in recent years, arrived outside Kohl's at 7 p.m. Thursday, armed with folding chairs, blankets and a deck of cards for the wait.

Mom Regina Janak began taking her little girl, Taylor Janak, day-after-Thanksgiving shopping as an infant. Now, however, it's Taylor who runs the show.

"I sent my mom to get the paper at 7 a.m.," she said, her cheeks slightly rosy from the cool night air. "I went over the ads and planned it out."

The annual tradition is more fun than anything, they said, noting they were on the lookout for blankets, camcorders and other Christmas gift goodies.

Nationwide, up to 152 million planned to shop Black Friday weekend, according to a National Retail Federation news release. That's up from last year's 138 million.

For Laura Gordon and her daughter-in-law Nichole Gordon, this year's Black Friday shopping began at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in their hometown of Stockdale.

In the last five or six years, the women said they have passed on the shorter drive to San Antonio shopping in favor of making their way to Victoria.

The people are more polite and the stores are cleaner, they said.

"It's a different crowd - more patient," Laura Gordon said.

The Gordons were still hard at shopping by 3 p.m. Friday, their cart full of children's toys and clothes in Target.

Linens and electronics were hard to come by at that hour, but shoppers could find almost anything else they needed, they said.

The women had missed an incident at Target during its midnight mad rush, though, when a woman bypassed the line and entered on her own terms.

The line jumper raced inside, ignoring Victoria police officer Chris Canales' orders to stop. Even after Canales caught up with her, just next to the women's clothing department, she didn't go without a fight.

Instead, she found herself handcuffed and escorted out, a one-year suspension from the store her only Target takeaway.

Sgt. Adam Nieto on Friday evening said police did not encounter any major incidents throughout the day besides the usual shoplifters and traffic issues.

Jarvis Armstrong, an old pro at the Black Friday scene, accompanied his wife, Nakeshia Blissitt, on her first-ever excursion.

The jaunt also began at 10:30 p.m. Thursday. By 1:30 a.m. Friday, they had already either shopped at or scoped out Walmart, Lowe's, H-E-B, Best Buy and Kohl's.

As the shopping day neared its end at the Victoria Mall's Finish Line store, Blissitt beamed a broad smile.

"I'm happy," she said. "We got everything the kids said they wanted."

Keondra Smith, Finish Line's store manager, said he was happy, too. The store opened four hours earlier than last year and saw more customer traffic than management expected.

The only problem, he said, was longer-than-usual lines.

Walmart experienced a slightly larger problem on the Black Friday front.

There, a fight broke out about 10 p.m. Thursday over a children's white convertible, said Anita Vasquez, an early-morning shopper with a front-row seat to the incident. She said the store moved the pallet of toys to the store's garden center to avoid further chaos.

Another early bird, Kendall Buchholz, said she learned of the Walmart incident while texting her mother, who inadvertently found herself in the middle of it all.

"She said she couldn't even reach into her pocket to get her phone," Buchholz said, noting police were called to the scene. "She was sardined in."

Michael Price, the customer service manager at Walmart, said crowds can get rowdy, but Black Friday is usually an exciting day for both customers and employees.

By the afternoon, lines were busy but calm, and employees looked no worse for wear after the long day of sales, which started at 10 p.m. Thursday. Sales were added at midnight and 5 a.m., and by 4 p.m. Friday, people were still filling carts with both big- and small-ticket items.

"It tends to help me deal with more characters of people," Price said of the 10 Black Fridays he's worked at Walmart. "I enjoy that we have an establishment that can meet peoples' needs."

Since some stores opened several hours earlier than in previous years, by the afternoon, managers at Walmart, Target and Best Buy said they could tell this year's sales would beat last year's. Those three stores will add to their sales numbers Saturday, with some of the same Black Friday sales and a new shipment of some goods.

Best Buy manager Mario Chavana called the weekend a marathon, adding televisions, computers and a Playstation 3 bundle were some of this year's most popular items.

"It was exciting - the most people I've seen in years," he said.

For Best Buy's first midnight opening on Black Friday, a line at the door zigzagged to the Sears Auto store, Chavana said.

Best Buy allowed 40 people into the store at a time and handed out tickets for items shoppers were hoping to buy. Though a police officer was on hand, the organization helped the store avoid any problems with a crowd rushing into the store.

"It's rewarding to me knowing our customers are coming in safe," Chavana said.

All seemed to be well nearing the end of Black Friday, and some people came away with a reward for their sleepless perseverance.

Port Lavaca residents Amber and Anett Martinez arrived at Target at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in search of two deeply discounted HDTVs. Although others around them hungered for the same, their place in line - only about 30 people stood ahead of them - helped.

The sisters rolled out of the store, oversize boxes balanced precariously inside the carts, within 15 minutes of its midnight opening.

Although they got what they wanted, the first-timers said they weren't quite sure what to think of it all.

"I don't know if I'd do it again," Amber Martinez said, "but it was pretty fun."

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