GOSHEN — Neither cold weather nor near coma-inducing levels of turkey and mashed potatoes could deter groups of intrepid consumers from Goshen stores Thursday night.
“Black Friday” — kickoff to the holiday shopping season — had arrived ahead of schedule, according to the calendar. The Kohl’s and Target stores on Goshen’s northwest side actually opened at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Joey Lukkarila of Wakarusa set up her folding armchair at the pole position in the designated queue outside the Target entrance.
The object of her determination was an Element 50-inch flatscreen TV that was marked down 62 percent to $229. She was also picking up items she already purchased online.
Lukkarila was quite popular among the people toward the front of the line as she came prepared with a portable heater. A small group of people huddled around the heater drawing whatever warmth they could until Target opened its doors.
And while Lukkarila was by herself at Target, she wasn’t alone. She said she’s a part of a team of family members who camp out at different stores, adding that they’ve been doing it for about a decade. That meant Thanksgiving Day plans were put on the back burner.
Things weren’t quiet at Angee Joyner’s Dunlap home as Thanksgiving festivities went on all day. Joyner just wasn’t around to enjoy any of them.
She, along with Manuel Silva of Elkhart, arrived at Target around 10:30 a.m. after dropping off Joyner’s son. Her eye was also on a TV.
“I’ve been up since 4 a.m.,” Joyner said. “So it’s been a long day.”
Joyner earned kudos from the group when she brought desert. Besides enjoying treats and huddling for warmth, those in the Target line said they passed the time by talking to each other.
“You really get to know someone waiting in line with them all day,” Joyner said.
They all agreed that they would rather be home on Thanksgiving, but the savings that come from camping out at places like Target were enough to allow them to afford all of their Christmas shopping.
Down the way at Kohl’s the line wasn’t as long, but those in the front of the line were in similarly good spirits.
Amy Clark of South Bend and her boyfriend, Kyle Vanalstine of Elkhart, arrived at the front of the line at Kohl’s at 5:30 p.m. Diana Floyd of Elkhart also arrived at the same time. All three said they were veterans of the Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping experience.
Clark’s wish list items included a pair of Nikes, while Floyd pointed at the HP printer she intended on leaving the store with.
“That one right there,” Floyd said joyfully as she drew her right hand from her coat pocket. She indicated that Black Friday shopping is something she does every year.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “And honestly I’d come even if I didn’t have anything to get. Just the people watching and getting to know the people in line makes it worth it.”
While for Clark and Vanalstine Thursday night meant getting an early start on Christmas shopping, it didn’t mean that every item on the shopping list gets crossed off.
“We’re too poor to get all our shopping done in one night,” Vanalstine joked.
Those in line at Kohl’s also said they passed the time by getting to know their line neighbors. Kohl’s staffers provided free coffee, handouts and credit card applications to pass the time, while other employees stood out front with bullhorns talking to the assembled shoppers and keeping them engaged.
The next day
Around 7 a.m. on the actual Friday in Black Friday, Greg Butts sounded upbeat.
Butts, an executive team leader in logistics at the Goshen Target, had been at the store three hours or so. He described shoppers as being in a good mood. Butts also indicated Black Friday is an important day for Target.
“It’s very key,” he said. “This day alone will let us know how our whole fourth quarter will go. We have a great day today, we kind of set ourselves up for a great fourth quarter with Christmas and everything. A bad day today, you’ve got pretty much an uphill climb from there to make up the rest of the quarter. So far we’re off to a great start.”
Friday morning Target shoppers included Shala Crawford of LaGrange, who was in the store with her daughter and one of her daughter’s friends. Crawford said she usually heads out for Black Friday every year, but is not an avid Black Friday shopper.
“I just go for the fun,” she said.
The Target crowd Friday also included Vicki Karns of Bolingbrook, Ill. Karns was in this area visiting family. Her daughter, Laura Clem of New Paris, invited her to go shopping.
Karns isn’t typically a Black Friday shopper, and said she’s definitely not a Thanksgiving night shopper.
“I’m not in any way going to come out on Thanksgiving night,” she said.
As for Karns’ Friday shopping experience?
“It’s been fine,” she said. “Not too crowded. “Not bad.”
Over at the Kohl’s store, Philip Thomas of Goshen was keeping with family precedent. Thomas said he and his daughters started shopping on Black Friday years ago. His daughters are in high school now, but still love the annual outing.
“It’s just a fun kind of tradition,” Thomas said, “whether we buy anything or not.”