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Shoppers begin Black Friday early

Nov. 23, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Turkey is so 2011. This year's Thanksgiving highlight, according to many, isn't what's on the table, but rather what's on the shelves.

Many people ditched the turkey and took their place in line at area retailers who chose to get a jump-start on Black Friday with sales beginning Thursday evening. Walmart, Kmart and Toys R Us opened their doors at 8 p.m. Thursday evening, followed by Target at 9 p.m. and Kohl's at midnight. The Huntington Mall opened its doors to shoppers at 11 p.m. with its first-ever Rock the Mall Midnight Ball featuring food, entertainment and more before stores opened at midnight.

Melanie Lyons of Scott Depot, W.Va., is a holiday shopper. She said she has always loved Black Friday shopping, but has expanded her shopping to include trips to Kmart on Thanksgiving Day, followed by Walmart Thanksgiving night.

"I've always loved Black Friday shopping. I know most deals are not worth the horrific hassle, but it is so fun," Lyons said. "I usually shop along Thanksgiving morning and then head to my family's home for dinner. My mom and I head out Thanksgiving night for more shopping. It's an every year ritual for us."

"By Thursday evening, we've already done everything at home we wanted or needed to and it's a nice break from all the cooking, eating and football," said Ellen Adkins of Huntington, shopping at the Walmart on Route 60 Thursday evening. "Hopefully, we can get a few things we want tonight because I am not venturing out into the madness tomorrow."

Lyons said she knows her yearly tradition is frowned upon by some.

"Lots of people feel Thanksgiving is for family time and not shopping. I think it's easier for me to do because my boyfriend is in the woods all day deer hunting, I have no children and I'm not the one who has to cook the Thanksgiving feast," she said.

Anthony Herr of Huntington is one of those dissenters. He said he doesn't agree with Black Friday shopping encroaching on Thursday's festivities.

"Thanksgiving is supposed to be about spending time with friends and family giving thanks, not spending money for friends and family on gifts," Herr said. "Not only do you spend time away from family, it also causes the workers who are helping you to spend time away from their loved ones.

"In my opinion, everything should be shut down except for a grocery store or two and a few gas stations so as many as possible can spend time with their families giving thanks for their blessings."

One of those holiday workers is Sara Walker of Kenova. Walker works in a girls' clothing store at the Huntington Mall. She said her store alone is expected to generate $100,000 in Thanksgiving weekend sales.

"I think it takes away from the holiday. It's almost like they've skipped the entire holiday and taken the meaning away from it," said Walker, of the trend to begin Black Friday shopping on Thursday. "It just seems like you spend this time at Thanksgiving being so thankful for everything and then six hours later, it's totally forgotten.

"The battle of the bargains has taken the whole meaning out of the holiday," she said.

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