Consumers up at dawn |

Consumers up at dawn

Residents stake out stores in early morning to be the first ones inside

Collin Smith

From left, Alexandria Kjellesvig, John Lopez and Keith Velardo talk early Friday morning outside of Wal-Mart in Craig. The trio was among more than 200 ambitious shoppers lined up in front of Wal-Mart SuperCenter before its 5 a.m. opening, hoping to take advantage of the store's best Black Friday deals.

John Lopez and Alexandria Kjellesvig, an younger-than-20 couple new to Craig from California, had one mission for their day after Thanksgiving.

“I could do with one of those laptops they have in there,” Lopez said at about 4:30 a.m. in front of the Wal-Mart SuperCenter. He had gotten there early enough to be at the front of a 200-person line.

“I want to get one of those big TVs, too. Those’ll probably go by pretty fast.”

As he was talking, another man asked what Lopez knew about cheap laptops, and he immediately began to recite different models and their prices.

The other man, 33-year-old Keith Velardo, also came with a mission and was as serious about his shopping as Lopez.

“We had to be the first ones in line, of course,” Velardo said. “We were afraid we’d miss out on some deals. Totally afraid. Paranoid.”

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After a brief pause, he added, “This is normal.”

The shopping season didn’t just open at Wal-Mart, however. Businesses all across town reported finding throngs of consumers waiting for their doors to open.

Some downtown retailers, which offered better deals earlier in the morning, had customers lined up before the owners got there.

Sandra King – whose mother, Liz Davis, bought The Giving Tree in July – opened the store for her mom at 7 a.m., along with her 14-year-old son, Parker.

“Oh, it’s been really good today,” King said as she stocked some items on a floor display.

People also didn’t seem to forget that with the holidays comes winter, as the best selling items at Maurices in Centennial Mall were coats and sweaters.

“We’ve been super-busy since we opened the doors,” Manager Rose Lindquist said. “We’re doing really well.”

Walgreens ended up opening 15 minutes early at 6:45 a.m. to let people in out of the cold.

“It’s been very busy ever since we opened the doors for the people waiting outside,” Walgreens Store Manager Jeremy Mattingley said. “It’s been crazy, running around, trying to keep the shelves stocked and trying to keep customers’ baskets full.”

And since the shopping season didn’t end Friday, Mattingley has people covered for holiday essentials they may need later. Walgreens plans to offer its buy-one-get-two-free deal on wrapping paper today. Christmas ornaments and lights will be on sale, too.

Many other stores are offering various sales through the weekend, as well.