Wayne Lewis said it's not fair or right, but that didn't stop the 21-year-old from camping out in his tent at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday on the sidewalk in front of the Best Buy at Highland Grove.
"They make it so this is when they have the best deals and if you're short of cash like me you have to come early and line up," Lewis said Thursday in subfreezing temperatures behind barricades set up by store personnel.
The line behind him and friend Dylan Moullesong for the 6 p.m. opening was nothing like it was in previous years when Black Friday was the first day to get the deals, both said. But they thought it was worth getting there early so they could stretch meager paychecks to please themselves along with family and friends for the holidays.
The Thanksgiving opening for Best Buy and other stores was a break with tradition. The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, for a decade had been considered the official start to the holiday buying season. It's also typically the biggest shopping day of the year.
But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. They've also pushed up discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November, which has led retail experts to question whether the Thanksgiving openings will steal some of Black Friday's thunder.
In fact, Thanksgiving openings took a bite out of Black Friday sales last year: Sales on turkey day were $810 million last year, an increase of 55 percent from the previous year as more stores opened on the holiday, according to Chicago research firm ShopperTrak. But sales dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion on Black Friday, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year.
Joshua Pearey and three friends were at the Highland Grove Best Buy in line at 1 p.m. Thursday set on doing their best to inflate Thanksgiving Day sales and depress Black Friday sales.
Even though Pearey had snagged his place in line more than 12 hours after Lewis, he still felt he was in great position to pick up a Microsoft Surface tablet on sale at $199. He figured it was worth the cold wait to save on the tablet's usual price of $350.
He said his family understood.
"They were like we'll have the turkey at 2 so you can go but I said Best Buy opens at 6 and they said okay we'll have it now," Pearey said as he stomped his loafers on the pavement to keep warm.
Best Buy was not the only store opening at Highland Grove on the non-traditional day. Michael's arts and crafts store had already opened its doors at 4 p.m. and lights were burning bright at the Target at the shopping center's far south end. Kohl's was scheduled to open at 8 p.m.
Barbara Leslie thought she had made the right move in having the family's afternoon Thanksgiving dinner at home and then getting in line with daughter Sondra just a couple hours before the opening.
They already had tickets handed out by store personnel that guaranteed them the 32-inch high-definition Samsung flat screen at $277 and the the iPad with WiFi and 16 GB of memory at $299.
"I'm quite impressed how organized it all is," Sondra said. "I've done this other years for Black Friday and it has just been crazy."