Black Friday backs up into Black Thursday

Posted at: 11/23/2012 2:45 AM
By: Dan Levy

GUILDERLAND - People were witnessing and taking part in a remarkable and crazy phenomenon Thursday night at Crossgates Mall, however it wasn't unique. What people were doing in Guilderland they were doing all across the nation -- shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

Forty-one million Americans, 17% of the population, was transforming Thanksgiving Day into a day of giving thanks for retail bargains.

Unless you where there, and unless you were waiting in line, on the cold sidewalk, wrapped in layers of clothing, or perhaps inside a tent, you might have been wondering: why would anyone do it?

"This is fun," said Derek Balmar of Latham.

Balmar was near the front of the line outside Crossgates Mall on Thursday night, waiting to get through the doors at Best Buy. He had been there for more than 24 hours, and he wasn't alone. Hundreds of others had joined him in line by late Thursday night, a line had had wrapped entirely around a large parking lot in the northwest quadrant of the shopping center.

"I came (Wednesday night around four p.m.," said Cedrik Pender of Albany, "So I guess it'll be 32 hours (that I've been in line)."

Nicole Schubert was fifth in line outside Best Buy, convinced that a 29 1/2 hour wait is time well spent for a new tv set.

"I really don't work much right now," she says, "I'm in school and so if the price is right and I can afford it, it's worth my time."

Meanwhile, over at Toys R Us on Wolf Road, the line wrapped around the building and when the doors swung open at 8:00 o'clock, the shopping stampeded had begun.

Christie Valenti of Green Island made sure she was able to fulfill her Christmas shopping crusade.

"For people who are on a budget and save almost all year for this day, I personally have to do it," Valenti says. "I'm a mother of two and they're starting to get a little expensive so I will get any deal that I can."

Gail Gillen, of Johnstown, says she prefers family time and thinks it's a shame what's happening to Thanksgiving.

"It (Thursday shopping) rushes it (the holiday shopping season) a little too much," she says, "It's changed what Black Friday is supposed to be -- Black Friday."

The significance of the holiday shopping season can never be overstated. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas day, retailers are likely to take in 20% to 40% of their total annual revenue.

And as long as retailers continue to expand their hours and continue to lure shoppers with holiday sales, Americans will continue to spend their Thanksgiving holidays feasting on bargains at the mall .