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Serious shoppers: Black Friday deal hunters report fun, family time

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

COVINGTON -- The hardcore shoppers didn't even go to bed Thursday night. There was no need, given that area stores were opening at 3 and 4 a.m. and, in the case of Old Navy, at midnight for Black Friday.

Claudia Bowden of Conyers was one of those who stayed up all night. Bowden got started at 3 a.m.

"There's nothing in particular I'm needing. I'm just out," she said, but added she was trying to find Christmas gifts. Bowden can't remember exactly how long she's been hitting the stores on Black Friday, but said she was doing it when her children were babies, and her daughter is 43 now.

"I just like being around other people, and when I go out, I get real good deals," she said.

Yalonde Tanner of Covington is another experienced Black Friday shopper, and this year she was teaching the ropes to daughter-in-law Jenny Whitaker of Perry. The two started their shopping spree at 2:30 a.m. and by about 7:30 a.m. had visited Kohl's, JCPenney, Sears and Old Navy.

They said the crowds weren't too bad this year.

"The lines are long, but you expect long lines when you're getting really good deals," Tanner said. "I just enjoy it. It's not really for the deals. It's the one time a year I get to be a kid. It's just for fun."

Whitaker said she didn't know what to expect, but now that she's got a taste of the frenzy, she might be back for more next year.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought. I'd heard horror stories," she said.

Jane Beeco of Monroe was up and at it by 2:20 a.m. with daughters Rachel and Lea, having targeted a TV at Wal-Mart. They'd also been to Belk and Old Navy, where they were loading up on $5 fleece pajama bottoms. They next planned to stop at Kohl's and the Mall at Stonecrest. Beeco said the shopping excursion is about spending time with her daughters as much as it is about the deals.

"It's just fun being with the family," she said.

Marcy Wilson and her daughter Hays, of Covington, had their first Black Friday shopping experience and didn't find it too daunting. They got to the Target in Conyers at 4 a.m., when doors opened, and were near the back of the line that stretched all the way around the shopping center and down a back road. But the line moved quickly and they were in the store by 4:12 a.m.

The two had picked up a camera, kitchen appliances, clothes and shoes and were heading to QuikTrip for doughnuts and coffee to refuel.

The National Retail Foundation forecast an increase of 2.3 percent in holiday sales this year, to $447.1 billion. Last year, sales increased by just .4 percent and in 2008, declined by 3.9 percent. Americans are expected to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related shopping, a slight increase from last year's $681.83.