Shoppers report mostly hassle-free Black Friday

CONYERS -- Shoppers out and about on Black Friday reported shorter lines and smaller crowds. Midnight openings at stores like Kohl's, Macy's and Target meant the rush was over at several stores before regular business hours even started.

Though violence was reported at stores in other parts of the country -- one woman pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers at a Walmart in Los Angeles to beat them to the merchandise she wanted -- local shoppers said their experiences were drama free.

John Emanuel of Covington got started at midnight and by 9:30 a.m. had hit the Mall at Stonecrest, Lenox Square, the Mall of Georgia and Kohl's in Conyers. He said there was a large crowd at Macy's at midnight but everyone was calm.

"We were looking for everything," he said. Emanuel said his family spent $3,000 and saved about $2,500. The prices were worth the hassle of the crowds, he said, adding that he planned to go to a few more stores before calling it a day.

Linda Wood of Covington was at Walmart from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and brought two friends along with her for reinforcement. The trio split up and stood in separate lines to snag a Wii and televisions when sales went into effect at 10 p.m.

"I should have brought more people -- I didn't get the phones I wanted," Wood said. Wood couldn't find a place to eat after her shopping excursion, so she picked up a deli sandwich from Kroger, went home and slept a few hours and was back at it by 9 a.m. She said she planned to shop most of the day.

An employee at Kohl's said there were more than 300 people in a line that wrapped around the building when the store opened at midnight. But despite the large crowd, customers were cordial and not in a rush. Wait times to check out were 20 minutes or less, largely due to an organized plan carried out by management and employees, she said.

"We're constantly restocking so we don't run out of anything," she said, adding that if an item wasn't available at the Conyers store, employees were calling other locations for customers.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the increasing hoopla surrounding Black Friday.

Ray Wright and Ericka Hardin of Stockbridge got an early start at 4 a.m. and had already made five stops before landing at Kohl's. Crowds at the Mall at Stonecrest were, "The best we've ever seen," Wright said. "The lines were moving good. It seemed like they were a little more organized this year."

Though Hardin reported getting some great deals on clothing, Wright wasn't impressed with prices on electronics.

"It seems like the sales are more targeted to move certain things. (Deals) aren't as widespread as they were in years past," he said. "Merchants are more stringent about what they make deals on -- there's a lot of small print on the fliers where you have to mail in for a rebate and things like that."

Barbi Hopkins of Conyers planned a leisurely day of shopping with her family, in keeping with their annual tradition, having opted to skip the Black Friday rush in favor of online shopping Thursday night. She got many of the same deals without the hassle, and shipping was free, she said.

"Now it's just for fun with family," she said of Friday's outing.

Her mother, Karen Hopkins, said the day is losing its allure with merchants clamoring to get more money by opening earlier and earlier and the shopping turning into a sport.

"It used to be fun. I think they're taken the fun out of it," she said.

Barbi Hopkins agreed that while sharing the shopping experience with loved ones can be enjoyable, the deals don't live up to the hype.

"I haven't seen anything worth fighting for," she said.