Daryl Busker wheels a new 50-inch flat-screen TV toward the exit of Target Thursday night. Busker was one of hundreds who took part in early Black Friday openings around town.

Archived Story

Big deals or bust

Published 10:17am Friday, November 23, 2012

Juan and Emilia Felix were lucky Thursday night.

They only waited an hour to buy a refrigerator at Sears inside Oak Park Mall, after looking for one for quite a while. Their new fridge costs a little more than $750, marked down from $1,400.

“It was pretty good and we got to stay in town instead of going to Rochester,” Juan said.

Juan, Emilia, and thousands of area residents flocked to Austin businesses Thursday night and Friday morning for the annual Black Friday sales. Many, like Juan, had looked for items for a long time but waited for the deep discounts Black Friday brings.

“We had been looking for a new refrigerator for a while,” Juan said. “I think the cheapest refrigerator we found was around $1,100 at Menards.”

That’s no surprise to Sears owner Cory Squier, who expected many Sears shoppers to buy larger appliances as a present for the household, rather than smaller gifts for individuals.

“There’s good deals all around,” Squier said.

Residents like Terry Culton were at Sears for a deal on a 50-inch TV, something many residents scoured Austin businesses for. Across Austin’s business district, another group of people waited for more than two hours for another 50-inch TV deal.

“I’m just finishing up my basement and I’m looking for something to add to the man-cave,” said Kris Kaiser, who waited with Tyler Oakland and Cora Havlik. While Oakland hoped to get a few Xbox 360 games (and towels, he said jokingly), Havlik was hoping to get a few things in addition to the TV for herself and others.

Though some people did wait several hours for deals — one person stood in line at Target from 3 p.m. to when the store opened at 9 p.m. — Target managed to get the hundreds of people standing in line inside the store by 9:20 p.m.

“We’ve been planning this for months,” Diana Eagen, Target store manager said.

According to Eagen, shoppers were not only interested in the electronics deals but were flocking to buy small appliances, some as low as $8.

Eagen wasn’t surprised by the amount of people in the store at 9 p.m., the earliest Black Friday to date. Nationally, big box retailers like Target and Sears are struggling to match online deals throughout the weekend and on Cyber Monday, the traditional online shopping day. Yet there were thousands of customers lining up for deals throughout Austin Thursday night.

“What works with shopping at Target is the sense of fun you get,” Eagen said. “You can’t get that from your couch.”

Terri Studley agrees. She waited with her children Sarah and T.J. for a little less than an hour to shop at Target and buy presents for her other children, but she didn’t consider buying those gifts online.

“I’m not an online shopper,” she said.

Daryl Busker was another Target shopper who waited to buy a 50-inch TV, and he was glad to pick it up when he did, as those deals weren’t available online.

“You couldn’t get that deal early,” he said.

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