When it comes to Christmas shopping etiquette on super-saver days such as Thanksgiving, recent Michigan transplants Brianna Mullins and her mother hold fast to one rule.
Steer clear of the crazies.
“Our first time down here at Walmart, they took a guy out on a stretcher in the electronics section,” said Mullins, who, like her mom, has lived in Oklahoma only a few years. “We learned to avoid those kind of things.”
Her mother, Sheila Mullins, agreed.
“We usually try to make a circle around the store and see what looks good,” she said. “We avoid fights. We avoid the big crowds.”
On Thursday, the Mullinses stood in a chilly mist two hours before the 5 p.m. opening of a Super Target in south Tulsa.
“We know how to dress for the cold, so it doesn’t bother us,” Sheila Mullins said.
Thursday marked the beginning of one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year, with an estimated 165.3 million people likely to shop from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, according to the annual survey recently released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Over that span, 39.6 million consumers were expected to shop on Thanksgiving Day, with 114.6 million scheduled to search for gifts on the following day, called Black Friday.
The Mullinses were out Thursday looking for a television for Sheila’s other daughter, Devota, who had to work the holiday at a local casino.
“We did the same thing last year,” Sheila Mullins said. “We got ourselves TVs, so we’re getting her sister one this year.
“We’ll get the electronics and the more popular items today. (Friday), when the crowds die down a little bit, we’ll come back and look at shoes and clothes and the smaller stuff.”
At the front of the Super Target line, the sock-capped Alicia Carter sat in a camping chair, blanket pulled over her face and clutching a hand warmer. She said the low prices made braving the elements worth it.
Dustin Trail was taking turns standing in line with his wife, Jordan Trail, who was seated in a Mitsubishi Highlander with the heater on full blast.
“Last year, the line was all the way around the building,” he said. “A lot of people pushing and shoving last year. I got shoved out of the way three or four times. My wife did, too.”
“People were trying to get the last XBox. It was crazy. This year, I’m hoping it’s going to get better.”
Over at Woodland Hills Mall, business was brisk, especially at JCPenney, where the 2 p.m. opening was three hours earlier than that of the adjoining mall. Lines as long as 50 feet formed on each level at the store. Apparently tired of the bustle, one young girl lay her head down on a pillow on a Tempur-Pedic mattress.
When the mall finally opened its doors, scores of people moved from JCPenney to the rest of the shopping center, fanning out to places such as Justin, Bath & Body Works and Macy’s, which advertised “Doorbuster” deals.
Outside the storefronts, Owen Foster of Amarillo, Texas, sat in a recliner beside his son and his boy’s service dog, a German shepherd-Rhodesian ridgeback mix.
“We’re staying out of the way,” said Foster, an electrician.
While he is working on a construction project in Pryor, his family, which includes a wife and daughter, came to visit him in Oklahoma over the holiday.
“We’re just here to look at clothes for the kids,” Foster said. “It’s the best time to buy things — when they are real cheap. They go through them so fast.”
He was asked what constitutes a successful day shopping.
“When I don’t go home broke,” he said.