Shoppers crowd stores early

Published 12:13 am Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat Shoppers filled the Natchez Mall atrium in front of Belk at 3 a.m. Friday looking to grab up not one but several pairs of boots during the store’s Black Friday event.

NATCHEZ — Michelle Jones exhaled a sigh of relief as she approached the Walmart electronics checkout to find the one item she’d planned her whole Black Friday around — an 8 GB iPod touch.

“I got one!” Jones exclaimed as she pushed her overflowing shopping cart out of the way of other deal hungry shoppers.

The iPod, a Christmas gift for her 14-year-old son Bradley, was the last item on her list — at Walmart.

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat Calvin Thomas, right, and Darry Buckner wait in line at midnight with their three carts filled with Black Friday specials at the Walmart Supercenter in Natchez.

“I’m heading to K-Mart at 5 a.m.” Jones said.

Black Friday shopping is a yearly tradition for Jones and she said there’s always some deal that’s worth the madness.

“This time of year is crazy, especially on Black Friday,” Jones said. “But if I have to get up for the deals, I will.”

Jones said the shopping day becomes more important with children who pick out their Christmas gifts ahead of time.

“They look at the paper and say ‘I want that’ and then you have to go get it,” Jones said.

Even if all her Christmas shopping doesn’t get done that day, Jones said the things she does get make her trip worth it.

“The idea is to come get the deals while they’re on sale,” Jones said. “Whether you get all your Christmas shopping done or not, you come out to get the deals.”

Brenda Henry said about 75 percent of the things she buys go toward Christmas presents, but that dealing with the shopping madness always deserves a little reward.

“You can’t get out without buying something for yourself,” Henry said.

Henry opted for the later shopping time, arriving at the Natchez Mall at about 7 a.m., but the deals still managed to keep her up all night.

“I woke up several times thinking ‘I should be down there now!’” Henry said. “But I didn’t and still got some really good sales.”

The line of shoppers waiting for Black Friday deals stretched from the Belk entrance to the Natchez Mall main entrance at 2 a.m. Friday.

Carolyn Harveston joined Henry for the later shopping, but said normally she joins the earlier crowd.

“Usually I’m up early, but I just couldn’t make myself get up this year,” Harveston said. “It’s definitely worth getting up this early because if you wait until later all the deals will be gone.”

Joseph Bath said the deals really aren’t worth all the craziness, but he still comes out if he sees a good deal.

“I just come out when something is really worth it, but my wife does it every year — regardless,” Bath said.

Bath said the atmosphere turned quickly when one of the biggest deals at Walmart, an HP desktop computer, rolled out.

“I thought I was going to get run over,” Bath said. “I had to back up it got so crazy.”

Natchez Police Officer Phillip Smith said other than a small issue over some bed sheets at Walmart, things were unusually calm this year,

“It’s all ordered chaos is what it is,” Smith said.

With no arrests or reports made the entire night or morning, Natchez Police Interim Chief Danny White said he was glad nothing got out of hand.

“It was real quiet,” White said. “We beefed up our patrols quite a bit.”