BY CAROL ROEHM
DANVILLE — Traditional Black Friday shopping started considerably earlier this year, with many area retailers swinging open their doors Thursday night shortly after the dishes were cleared from the Thanksgiving dinner table.
While some local shoppers hit the sales that started Thursday night at retailers such as Wal-Mart, others waited until later Friday morning to venture out to the stores in hopes of avoiding long lines and lack of parking spaces.
“This is the first year we slept in,” said Sara Quick of Danville who was shopping at the Danville Menards with her mom, Jo Doggett of Westville.
“We’re usually out in line first thing in the morning,” Doggett said.
Quick agreed. “But you can’t find a cart or you can’t find a parking space.”
Still, the lure of a 32-inch TV for $179 at Menards was too strong for some diehard Black Friday shoppers to resist.
“I got here at quarter to four (in the morning) and they were already in line,” said Menards associate Susan Cunningham.
Menards store manager Ryan Geiger said when the West Newell Road store opened at 5 a.m., “the TV was the first one we sold out of.”
Other popular sale items at Menards that morning were an infrared heater and a gun cabinet.
Jennifer Thompson of Danville was in the spirit of the season, wearing a Santa hat that moved about and played Jingle Bells.
Thompson said she and her sister and niece headed out to the stores in Danville at 5 a.m., like they do every year, and were making a second trip through Menards after scoring a TV during their first round of shopping.
“We’ve been to Sears, Kmart, Menards, Office Max, Big Lots and Carson’s,” she said.
“We want to keep our money in Danville,” Thompson said, adding that she had no plans of traveling to Champaign.
Quick and Doggett, who were pushing around a cart filled with toys and a few candles at Menards, echoed that sentiment about shopping locally.
“”I’ve got all the ads in the car,” Doggett said. “After this, we’ll go to Wal-Mart, Dunham’s, Big R and the mall.
“We don’t shop online. We try to do it in Danville,” she added.
Jerry Block of Danville filled his shopping cart at Menards with all kinds of goodies, including candy for his grandchildren and “the girls at Friendly Tavern.”
“This is probably my favorite store,” he said, adding that he was just beginning his holiday shopping.
“After this I’m going to wait until December 22 (to continue shopping) in case the world ends on the 21st,” he joked.
Block also eschewed the idea of shopping online on Cyber Monday, saying, “online shopping takes away from local businesses and local sales tax.”
However, Lori Acree of Danville admitted, “Usually, I’m one of the crazy people who gets up in the middle of the night, but I did a lot of shopping online already.”
Still, Acree’s shopping cart was overflowing with popcorn tins, travel mugs, slipper socks and even a sock monkey hat.
“I’m buying teacher gifts, babysitter gifts and coworker gifts,” she said.
In the toy aisle at Menards, Canadians Steve Froese and his girlfriend Kristin Richter were “looking for the loudest, noisiest toys” to buy, Froese said.
The couple was visiting Froese’s uncle in Covington, Ind., and decided to shop for toys in Danville because “they are much cheaper here than in Canada.”
Froese noted that Canada’s version of Black Friday comes the day after Christmas on Boxing Day when “everything is on sale.”
Over at Dunham’s sporting goods at the Village Mall, Connie Hanson and Sabra Grigsby of Danville looked through a pile of sweatshirts for the correct size.
Hanson said she and Grigsby intentionally waited until later in the morning before venturing out.
“We waited, hoping the crowds would die down,” Hanson said, adding that they didn’t plan to travel to Champaign to shop.
“We’re going to stay in Danville,” she said.
Grigsby said she and Hanson enjoy shopping the penny auction sites online and probably would pick up some additional gift items there.
James Farr of Danville was looking at some athletic wear at Dunham’s for his 15-year-old son.
As far as getting an early start shopping, Farr said he “looked at the clock at 5 a.m.” but favored more sleep over shopping.
“This year all my shopping will be in Danville because I’m halfway done. I started shopping the last week of October,” he said.
“I’ve done very little online shopping this year,” Farr said, adding that he expects to spend a little more on gifts this year than in the past.
Some local residents did drive to Champaign Thursday night to try to get in on the deals that started Thanksgiving night.
By the time midnight rolled around, Jessica Lively, 17, of Cayuga, Ind., and Anna Calvin, 16, of Perrysville, Ind., were waiting in line outside the Ulta Beauty store on Prospect Avenue.
The two teens said they embarked on a similar shopping adventure last year after Thanksgiving.
This year, the teens said they had already waited in line for an hour at Wal-Mart to get a ticket that guaranteed them a coveted digital item that Calvin wanted to buy her mother for Christmas.
After securing the special gift, the teens said they waited in line for another hour to pay for the item.
Waiting in long lines didn’t seem to dampen the teens’ enthusiasm for shopping, though.
“We save so much money,” Lively rationalized.
After buying some nail polish and a few other cosmetics at Ulta, Lively said she and Calvin planned to shop at Marketplace Mall “for about five hours.”
Last year, after Calvin shopped all night in Champaign with her friends, she then shopped most of Black Friday in Danville with her mother before arriving home in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
“So you didn’t sleep for three days?” Lively asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” Calvin replied.