Bargain hunters line up to kick off 'Black Friday' sales crush
GRESHAM, Ore. - It used to be that "Black Friday," the annual shopping chaos that kicks off the holiday buying season, actually started early in the morning on Friday after Thanksgiving.
Then stores began to open before dawn. Then it was midnight, Thursday.
Now, Black Friday has crept well into Thursday, with many stores jockeying for shoppers by opening Thanksgiving evening.
The event is known as Black Friday because the holiday sales push traditionally nudged store balance sheets "into the black" for the year.
Doorbuster deals, such as huge price cuts on a limited number of popular electronic items, prompted some people to camp out in line since before Thanksgiving Day in order to land a great deal.
Luis Orozco and Kevin Escamilla were among those camped out in line outside a Best Buy store in Gresham, where a line of tents pitched on the concrete sheltered a fair number of shoppers overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning.
The store was set to open at midnight Thursday.
Orozco said he came prepared for the long wait. "I got a tent, a reclining chair, and I dressed warm," he said, adding that he also brought some blankets.
"It's worth it," Escamilla said. "You're getting a new TV. It's brand new. It's $180 bucks, saving like $300 bucks on the TV. It's worth it."
Others camped at the Best buy said they were planning on grilling Thanksgiving dinner while in line. Orozco and and Escamilla said family members were going to bring them food.
The two men kept warm by throwing a football to each other in the well-lit but vacant parking lot of the store during the chilly morning hours Thursday as temperatures hovered in the mid-40s. The forecast for the day called for dry conditions into Thursday evening but rain is expected to move into the region on Friday.
- Spot a great Black Friday deal? Let us know on twitter: #k2blackfriday
In Woodburn, Ore., police were warning drivers on Interstate 5 to watch for slow traffic and to be prepared for long backups at exits to the Woodburn Company Stores complex, a popular destination for Black Friday shoppers.
Some stores were opening Thursday evening but the main event was the "Moonlight Madness" event taking place at the shopping complex, located south of Portland. Stores will be open for 24 hours straight during the event.
The steady creep of Black Friday sales into Thursday has met resistance in some quarters.
Walmart, which plans to open stores at 8 p.m. Thursday, saw protests about the treatment of workers, including opening on Thursday evening, at some stores. One person at a Southeast Portland Walmart store was arrested "after creating a disturbance inside the store," Portland Police said.
Walmart blames unions for supporting the protests. The 8 p.m. opening time is two hours earlier than on Black Friday in 2011.
Other stores pushing Black Friday sales into Thursday include Target, Sears and Toys-R-Us.
Locally, the Fred Meyer chain, which is owned by Kroger, was open for regular business Thursday until 4 p.m.
Their Black Friday sales begin at 5 a.m. Friday, and includes their traditional 50-percent off sale on socks - but that only lasts for 6 hours, a Fred Meyer worker in Portland told KATU.com.