With Black Friday sales beginning on Thursday, most of the rush was over in Richmond County by noon on Friday.
Walmart was quiet by 11 a.m. and store associates said it was a relatively smooth Black Friday.
“Everything was lovely this time,” said DJ Brewington, maintenance person at Walmart for 15 years. “I have seen it rougher. I have seen one or two fights, but this year it’s been good.”
Implementing solid strategy and hiring extra hands helped Belk out as well.
Tanaia Winchester was hired as seasonal help, and it’s her first year being on the staff side of Black Friday.
“We had a good plan and ground rules,”said Winchester. “It was not as hectic as I assumed it would be.”
Winchester had been on the store floor since 11:30 p.m. on Thursday, and by Friday morning she was tired but still wore a smile and assisted customers by getting things down that were out of reach, and helping match clothing. She wasn’t at the door when gift cards were being handed out to the first 200 customers, one of which was a $1,000 gift card.
“I did hear somebody scream, so maybe that was it,” said Winchester. “Then I heard someone say, I stood in line for a $5 gift card?”
Although people weren’t breaking the doors down and shoving each other to get to the deals, Winchester said the event was “overwhelming.”
Tim Baldwin of Hamlet was checking out bargains in the appliance section of Belk on Friday, which is rare for him.
“I’m usually in a tree stand right now,” said Baldwin. “I hunt all November because I get a couple weeks off. But this morning I thought, I’m going to give my wife my last four days of my vacation. My oldest daughter almost had her arm torn off at Walmart last year (during Black Friday).”
Baldwin’s daughter, Kristin Jones, said they started their shopping around 7 a.m. She said they have seen “really good deals” at the stores they had been to. According to Jones, the best deal all morning was Walmart’s $2 movies.
Belk helped their holiday staff out by providing meals for them so they wouldn’t have to leave the building. One helper, Mary Covington, wore an elf hat. Covington is full-time and has been with Belk for 20 years.
“At midnight we were wide open,” said Covington. “We stayed busy and then slowed down around 3 a.m. It’s gone quite well. Everyone has been behaving.”
Covington gripped a Belk coffee thermos while explaining that the hardest part was staying awake.
“We all have 12-hour shifts,” she said. “We stay in the building and they feed us our meals.”
Covington said the worst behavior she saw was a customer trying to cut in line.
“She (the customer) thought she could put her stuff down and leave and then come back to the same spot,” said Covington.
Across the parking lot at RadioShack, gadgets were flying off the shelf.
Dustin Williams went home with a new PlayStation 3 for $220, and he said, “I got a good deal.” His PlayStation 3 wasn’t going home to be plugged in, though. Williams said he would be wrapping it up and putting it under the tree while he waits on the warranty.
Williams’ son Dylen, 16, checked out the smart-phones. He said he really wanted the Samsung Galaxy Note II, and his friend, James Black, 12 of Hamlet, agreed.
“It’s cool,” said Black.
Damajah Underwood, 18, of Hamlet, checked out the cameras. RadioShack was stocked with point and shoot cameras that fit in your pocket, video cameras that are built to be durable and high-resolution digital cameras. Underwood said that was what she wanted most for Christmas, a digital camera, but when shopping for someone else, would probably get a smart-phone.
Electronics have been the items at the top of most shoppers’ lists, so stores stocked up on TV, DVD and Blu-ray players, game consoles, extra controllers, batteries and other gadgets. Jake Brown has worked at Walmart for two years, and he was in the electronics section during Black Friday.
“I enjoy it, I really like talking to people,” said Brown. “It wasn’t as busy as other places in the store but I would say it was a little hectic. I didn’t see anybody arguing or anything, though. We sold a lot of TVs, and our games were less than half off. We sold a good bit of computers, too.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.