Travis Anderson did something he had never done on Thanksgiving: Shop.
The Big Coppitt resident staked a spot in line in front of the rear door of Sears on North Roosevelt, in hopes of gaining ownership of one of the 26 coveted tickets handed out for a 32-inch TV for a doorbuster price of $97. The original cost was nearly $300, so it was a bargain, he added.
"I came here at 3:30 p.m. and I was fifth in line," he said Thursday night with a big smile on his face. "Some people got their ticket and then left. They will be back when the store opens at 8 p.m."
Retailers such as Sears have made a stronger push this year to move the traditional Black Friday shopping event a day ahead by offering "doorbuster" sales. In the case of Anderson and the nearly 40 people who flipped through the flyers waiting for the store to open at 8 p.m. Thursday, it was the thrill of the bargain hunt. It was all about strategy.
"I am also looking for a Nook. I am not sure of what else I will buy until I get in there and look around," he added.
Nicolette Alex-Sands, customer experience supervisor with Banana Republic said her Duval Street store definitely saw an increase in customers on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
"We were open yesterday [Thanksgiving] and surpassed last year's sales on that day," she said. "So far we have had a strong day [Friday]."
Alex-Sands said the turnout is a positive indicator for the holiday season. And it is not just the locals who are stopping by. Many of the customers have family and friends living abroad and are buying items that are not available in European countries.
"We are very excited with the Black Friday turnout," she said.
Still, some shoppers didn't set alarm clocks for the crack of dawn and decided to venture out later in the morning, regardless of enticing early bird sales.
Marie Aylis admitted she did go to a few local stores Thursday night, but didn't buy anything. So, she tried again Friday morning.
"I bought some clothes, that's it," she said as she placed her purchases on the backseat outside of Kmart.
Heidi Sabia and her 5-year-old granddaughter, Hannah McLaughlin, were women on a mission, walking briskly through the Kmart parking lot Friday morning.
Hannah had two things on her shopping list: fingernail polish and a present for her sister, Julia. The pair weren't the least bit interested in Black Friday sale items.
Sabia, visiting from Palm Coast, said ironically, it was the two men of the house who hit the stores at 6 a.m.
"My husband set the alarm for 5:30 a.m.," she said. "He was looking for a camera, so he went to [the local military] Exchange with my son-in-law."
"Isn't that a switch," she added with a laugh.