Millions of Americans spent their Thanksgiving evening hunting down deals at stores across the nation and Sedalians were no exception.
The Sedalia Walmart officially opened its Black Friday deals for purchase at 6 p.m. Thursday with some shoppers showing up as early as 3:45 p.m. to grab a spot in line.
Walmart begins receiving items for Black Friday weeks in advance, but employees do not start preparing for the sale until the day before, according to Walmart Department Manager Lisa Meyer who was manning the Apple Watch line Thursday evening.
“It’s a lot of prep work, a lot of muscle,” Meyer said. “It (products) just comes in with our regular freight and we have to sort it out. This will be our busiest day of the year except for maybe Christmas Eve...
“It’s different. It’s a hustle so it gets us out of our normal routine and it gives us a little change of pace. After it’s done, it’s done. It’s only one time a year,” she continued.
Meyer said most people come to the sale for electronics, but the store has seen fewer people buying items in store as opposed to online in the last few years.
“Most people come in for the TVs,” she explained. “Most people come in for electronics but a lot of people come in for house stuff too. I think last year we had the best sell through on our home stuff...It’s been pretty chill the last couple of years. Ever since it started online we just don’t get as much. A lot of people would prefer to get it online and then if it’s sold out there then they’ll come in.”
Most walkways of the store were full of people either in line for an item or waiting by an item they wanted for the sale to begin. For more popular electronics like an Apple Watch or iPad, shoppers showed up and were given a ticket for the item and then had to wait in line to get the item. Leaving the line meant giving up your spot and ticket.
Dena Roberts was in line for an Apple Watch and showed up around 4 p.m. to secure her spot. She said she doesn’t come every year, but will come if there is an item she wants. Dena Bemboom was also sitting in line for an item and had found a $6 stool on another shelf which she was using. She is also not a regular Black Friday shopper, saying she hadn’t been in years.
“It’s kind of traumatic, I probably won’t go for years again...” Bemboom said. “Once I’m here though, I mean I’m definitely going to shop around. I’m already here, I’ve already made it through the worst part.”
Several families were working together to get the deals they wanted. Stephanie Stemberger was in line for an iPad while her daughter waited in another aisle for another item. While Stemberger doesn’t go out every year, she said she doesn’t mind it.
“There’s not as many people here this year,” Stemberger said. “I’m stuck back here (back of the store) but it doesn't really look like there’s as many people. I’ve been here before when you could hardly get through the door.”
The increase in online deals for Black Friday has seen a drop in shoppers who go out to stores and several experienced Black Friday shoppers have seen this.
Mercedes Balke goes Black Friday shopping every year and said she has seen the numbers go down in recent years. She said she will go online first to get what she wants and then go to the store if there is something she can’t get online. This year that was a variety of kids clothes.
“I have to say my favorite deal would have been four years ago,” Balke said. “I got a professional camera. I think we paid like $200 for it.”
While plenty of shoppers just come for the deals, for others it has become a family tradition after enjoying a Thanksgiving meal. Morgan Carlson came to the store for a TV and a vacuum for her new apartment. It was her family’s first time shopping in Sedalia on Black Friday after normally going to Jefferson City in previous years.
“It’s weird we actually make it a tradition for our family,” Carlson said. “We go every Thursday night after Thanksgiving. We started this five or six years ago...My favorite time was probably the first year we went in Jeff City. It was insane. It was the first time I had ever gone and the online shopping wasn't big yet. They didn't have the fancy lines and stuff like that. It was just like a free for all. It was crazy. It started at midnight, as soon as it hit midnight there was just an uproar in the store and I was hooked forever. It was just so funny to watch people go crazy.”
While she enjoys the deals Carlson said it was not the main reason she and her family go.
“It’s the atmosphere, the people,” she said. “You meet fun people and it’s craziness. It’s just an experience really because you can get this stuff online, but it’s just the experience of it.”