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Black Friday gets early start

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Black Friday starts Thursday this year.

Some local retail stores are getting a head start on the Christmas shopping season -- which traditionally starts the day after Thanksgiving -- by having sales Thanksgiving night or midnight openings.

Walmart SuperCenter, 4301 Vine, already will have had three sales before the sun peeks over the horizon Friday. At 8 p.m. Thursday, there will be a sale focusing mainly on family items, toys and movies. At 10 p.m., there will be a sale focusing on electronics, and at 5 a.m. Friday, there will be a sale on toys, household items and small appliances.

As well, at the 10 p.m. sale, there will be three items guaranteed to be in stock for the first hour. If they are sold out, a customer can purchase a guarantee card for that item. The three guarantee items are an iPad II, a 32-inch LCD TV and a Blu-Ray player.

"It's certainly our biggest two months of the year," said store manager Mike Konz. "From that standpoint, it really is a critical time for us.

"It's our harvest, to use farming terms, to put hay in the barn, get our wheat cut, to the elevator. That's the mentality we use with our associates."

Hastings Books, Music & Video, 3300 Vine, was not as busy on Black Friday last year, when the store had a sale from 8 to midnight Thanksgiving night.

"It's like a pre-Black Friday sale, so Black Friday isn't as crazy bad," said customer service manager Keisha Williams.

The store will have another sale during those hours this year and will open an hour early Friday, at 8 a.m.

"It's even started already, the Christmas season," Williams said. "Everybody is buying gifts, gotten crazy."

That's the feedback Traci Konrade, executive director of Downtown Hays Development Corp., has been receiving from downtown merchants.

"Holiday shopping already has started downtown for us," she said. "I've spoken with many of them in the last week, and many of them are surpassing margins that they've had in the past."

Tammy Wellbrock, executive director of Hays Area Chamber of Commerce, wants shoppers to think about supporting local businesses. If they can't think of what to give someone, shoppers can pick up Chamber bucks at the Welcome Center, 2700 Vine, and use them instead of store gift cards.

"Instead of a retail gift certificate that could possibly be taken to another chain outside our community, those Chamber checks remain in this community; whatever Chamber member, they can accept a Chamber check."

The Mall, 2918 Vine, will have 10 businesses open at midnight Thursday, with the rest of the stores opening at 6 a.m. Friday. Last year, all the stores in the shopping center opened at 5 a.m.

Opening at midnight this year are the Buckle, Bath & Body Works, Tradehome Shoes, Vanity, rue21, Payless Shoesource, Bling, Hibbett Sports, Claire's and Maurices.

At midnight Thursday, the first 100 shoppers in line at the Christmas tree at center court will pick a present on the tree with a gift inside.

There will be a pajama party from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, with Santa Claus making an appearance at 6:30 p.m.