Light rains, sleepy eyes and cloudy skies greeted shoppers early this morning as Black Friday began in earnest.
Lines grew longer and longer and parking lots filled more and more as residents came out to various retailers in attempts to get some early Christmas shopping finished with some serious deals.
“My baby wanted to come shopping. She’s 20, but she’s still a baby,” said resident Lisa Willingham.
More of a family tradition than anything else, Willingham was outside LaGrange Mall waiting for her shopping group. She wasn’t even there to shop, really - only to have a good time with her friends and family.
“We were here every year,” she said, “… since I was a little girl.”
A former longtime employee of RadioShack, Willingham knows well how difficult Black Friday can be, for shoppers and employees. Now, she braves the early morning just for the fun of it.
“It’s just the excitement,” said resident Bernice Stephens, one of Willingham’s shopping partners. “It starts off Christmas … because Santa called and he needed help.”
The two have been Black Friday shopping together for many years. They both remember the year they fought for Barney dolls at the height of the purple dinosaur’s popularity.
“It’s bragging rights,” Stephens said with a laugh. “The men get up and say they’re going deer hunting. We say we woke up at 3 a.m. to go shopping.
“I just want to go and have fun.”
For some, Black Friday is a day of killer deals and marvelous steals. The day after Thanksgiving can yield amazing holiday sales, unmatched the rest of the year.
For others, however, Black Friday is a day to watch others fight over gifts.
“I’m following my wife around,” said Ray Johnson, former Troup High School band director. “My wife just likes to look at the people.”
Johnson had a smile across his face and two pillows under his arm in J.C. Penney about 4:15 a.m. Other shoppers were crowded around him, but he didn’t mind.
“We’re not looking for anything in particular,” he said.
It’s an early start for him, but he’s been going along on Black Friday shopping trips for many years. For Johnson, a University of Alabama fan, it’s just an early start to the Iron Bowl, the annual Auburn University vs. Alabama game that’s played today.
“Oh, yeah. I’ll go home and take a nap before the big game comes on,” he said.
Trey Wood can be reached at twood@ lagrangenews.com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 228.