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Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Retailers open Thanksgiving Day

NEW YORK (AP) - The start of the holiday shopping season crept earlier into Thursday as retailers lured shoppers to stores and online ahead of the traditional Black Friday kick-off.

For the second year in a row, CompUSA Inc. opened its doors on Thanksgiving, with stores scheduled to open at 9 p.m., except in Massachusetts where local laws preclude holiday hours. CompUSA also added an extra incentive for consumers this year by providing pumpkin pie for those in line.

Iconic toy store FAO Schwarz — with locations in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas — opened its doors on the holiday as well. Store hours for the three locations were 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the past, holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day was limited to discount stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart, as well as grocery retailers and 24-hour convenience stores like 7-Eleven Inc. Kmart, operated by Sears Holdings Corp., is taking it one step further, offering for the first time Thanksgiving Day specials on TVs to GPS systems.

"Some people just can't wait until Friday," said Kirsten Whipple, a Sears spokeswoman. "Thanksgiving dinner is done and they have moved on." Kmart's special Thanksgiving deals include an Olevia 32-inch LCD HDTV for $419.99 and a Magellan GPS system for $129.99.

Dozens of shoppers at Kmart in Raleigh, N.C., were met with doughnuts and coffee as early as 7 a.m., and when the store opened, they quickly cleared the shelves of top-selling items: Nintendo's Wii, selling for $249.99; the Magellan Maestro 3100 Navigation System for $129.99 and 32-inch Olevia LCD television for $419.99.

Rick Long was one of the first shoppers in line and snagged his only planned purchase: the 32-inch flat screen.

"There's actually one that's going to be cheaper tomorrow, but there's going to be a bigger line," Long said after hoisting his purchase into the back of his car. "So, I figure paying the extra $20 is worth it."


Thanksgiving is one of the last holidays that marketers have yet to completely dissect. Sure, there is two months of 'Our Turkey is Better Than Yours' shows on the food channel, but basically this humble holiday has defied the gross commercialization that has enveloped many of our other national and religious celebrations.

"Black Friday," a real American holiday celebrating all things commercial, has protected Thanksgiving for many years by giving compulsive shoppers an outlet for their creative spending without treading on Family and Football Time. Perhaps these folks were sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table shaking and twitching, visions of Kohl's and Best Buy circulars dancing around in their heads - but at least they were at the table.

Retailers have finally found a way to change all that. An amazingly simple solution - just open early! Open Thanksgiving night! Open in the afternoon! Heck, open 7am Thanksgiving morning, why not?

The danger, even for the retailers, is that Thanksgiving will become just like every other day. Same traffic, same commercials, same shopping. Sure, there will always be football and turkey dinners. But when the family is rushing out the door to grab a great deal on a digital camera, nobody has time to sit and chat with the relatives or play with the kids.

Do you think the Pilgrims and Native Americans would have left their table for a really good deal on a flat TV?


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