Jeffrey Alvarado and Sue Lykins were in a good mood Thursday, relaxing in their nylon folding chairs inside a rectangular, open-ended pen of yellow “caution” tape, right at the spot where a bold red sign declared: “Line Forms Here.”
But they were on different shopping missions at the Toys R Us in west Norman: Lykins for the United Methodist Church in Alex; Alvarado for Shelby, his 8-year-old daughter. Alvarado, 30, from Moore, had the edge on Lykins. He'd been sitting outside the wide glass doors since 10 a.m. for the 5 p.m. opening. He was first.
Lykins said she wasn't worried. She and her four companions were next.
“It doesn't matter,” the 63-year-old said confidently. “He's not going to go in and buy the whole store himself.”
Alvarado smiled and slyly shot back, “That's what they think — but they don't know how much money I've got.”
While not the first time to happen, the sheer number of new “Black Thursday” bargains drove thousands of Oklahomans to national retailers offering seductive steals on Thanksgiving Day. Keeping track of the openings was like following the train schedules at Grand Central Station: Toys R Us had one of the earliest at 5 p.m., Walmart braced for 6 p.m. and other stores followed with openings each hour from 7 p.m. to midnight and beyond.
Alvarado's cousin, Gerika Taylor of Moore, thought it was a “little ridiculous” that the earlier Thursday openings were taking away from family time on a national holiday. And yes, she said, she was aware that she was in line, nonetheless. But it was for a good cause that's hard to argue with.
“We're sacrificing for the kids,” she said.
Lykins and her fellow church members spread out in force Thursday for a lot of kids. This year is the fourth anniversary of the church's toy giveaway. Small bands of members separately staked out several store openings in the metro area to spend a total of $4,000 on toys for needy parents, grandparents and guardians to pick up in December.
“We do it because it's so hard for some parents not to be able to put gifts under the tree for their children,” she said.
The Thursday head-starters engaged in some of the same tactics as their Black Friday counterparts. Jesus Cortes, 34, showed up Wednesday night at the Best Buy off Interstate 240 in south Oklahoma City. With no line yet, he slept in his car. His goal was to buy two 39-inch HDTVs for $169, among other items.
“I had to stay in the car because it was too cold,” he said. “I didn't sleep too well last night.”
By 8 a.m. Thursday, Cortes had pitched his tent, with sleeping bags, outside the store doors. He and his wife were first in a line of about 200 people that snaked around the side of the building. About 20 minutes before the 6 p.m. opening, the queue ended near a Dumpster at the back of the store.