CLINTON — Black Friday arrived this year disguised as Thanksgiving night for bargain hunters in western Oklahoma and their counterparts nationwide.
The early start to the unofficial kickoff of the Christmas shopping season didn't deter more than 300 people from lining up outside the Kmart store in Clinton shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday.
Some, such as April Akridge, of Geary, and Tina Guffee, of Oklahoma City, stood in line for hours, hoping to get their hands on deeply discounted electronics.
The Clinton Kmart store was open throughout Thanksgiving Day, but closed at 4 p.m. before reopening at 8 with a series of hourly specials.
“I came for some tablet computers for my kids, and Tina came for the 50-inch TV,” Akridge said. “They kicked us out of the store at 4 when they closed. We went to a nearby convenience store, came back, and there were already people in front us.
“They told us there were only a few TVs, so we're hoping.”
Akridge and Guffee were about 10 to 12 people back in a line that stretched almost 100 yards to the end of the parking lot.
Walking along the line before the store reopened, it was apparent most were drawn by the lure of cheap electronics.
And all were optimists, even those at the tail end of the line minutes before the doors opened.
“We're here to buy two TVs for my brother-in-law,” said a man who stood with his wife at the end of the line minutes before the doors opened. He refused to give his name.
When the doors opened, the crowd poured into the store, with some from the back of the line sprinting toward the front.
Akridge and Guffee were swept into the store by the surge, anxious because they were bypassed earlier by store personnel when vouchers were distributed that gave holders the right to purchase the discounted televisions. The line had bunched up when the vouchers were handed out, confusing employees as they tried to determine who stood where, Akridge said.
Akridge walked directly to manager Steve Brull after she entered the store and explained her situation. Brull arranged for Guffee to purchase the discounted TV with no hesitation.
Within minutes of the opening, aisles in the electronics section were congested, and cash registers began ringing up sales.
One of the first to roll a 50-inch discounted TV out of the store was Justin Cooper, of Cordell. He had stood at the front of the line since 4 p.m.
“I did it for the in-laws,” Cooper said with a laugh as he pushed a shopping cart out the door. “I got this for my mother-in-law.”
Eventually, Akridge and Guffee checked out and walked to their car, satisfied that they were able to buy everything that was on their list. A relative assisted with the 50-inch television.
“It was well worth it,” Akridge said of the long wait in line.
So, where to next?
“Home, bed,” Akridge said. “Rest up until tomorrow.”