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Stores don't wait for Friday to begin 'Black Friday' sales

| Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 12:47 a.m.

Nicki Wallace and her mother, Mindy Keylor, sat on stadium chairs, wrapped in blankets for six hours outside the Rostraver Township Kmart.

They sat at the front of a line of roughly 200 waiting for the first wave of Black Friday sales that took affect 8 p.m. Thursday.

Wallace of Van Meter and Keylor of Smithton have made the Black Friday experience an annual event for four years running. They were waiting for a special TV sale, hoping to buy the big ticket item as a gift for Wallace.

It's fun for me,” Wallace said. “We make it fun. But if I don't get one of those tickets for a TV… .”

Shoppers hungry for seasonal gifts had their appetites whetted locally by Kmart and Walmart, which began offering Black Friday specials Thursday.

Kendra Brown of McKeesport said she waited in line four hours to buy televisions for her children.

“I enjoy the Black Friday experience,” Brown said. “It gets me motivated for the season.”

Ron Beck of McKeesport was surprised to receive a ticket for the only computer on special.

He said the good deals bring him out. He doesn't worry about budgeting for the holiday season.

“I never think about it,” Beck said. “I get what I want and put it under the tree.”

Marie Hall of Monessen stood in line for a 32-inch TV – only to find that offer began Thursday morning.

Kmart opened 6 a.m. Thursday and closed at 4 p.m., before reopening at 8 p.m. The store remained open until 3 a.m., then reloaded the specials with another opening at 5 Friday morning.

Store Manager Jim Kurta said it was the first time Kmart offered two major sales events in one day.

“The public has been very positive,” Kurta said. “The TVs and electronics are the big draws, but people are buying everything. There are a lot of buy one, get one free offers.”

Kurta said this opening day was a lot stronger than last year. He credited strong sales to Kmart's aggressive marketing campaign nationwide.

At Walmart, shoppers arrived for 8 p.m. specials as well.

The entire parking lot of the Rostraver Township Walmart was full as some shoppers circled the lot looking for openings. The traffic was further complicated because yellow emergency tape blocked the fire lane at the front of the store.

Inside, employees handed out maps where customers could find special sale items. Grace Burkholder of Monessen said she got to the store around 7:10 p.m. and only waited about 15 minutes in the checkout line to purchase a few kitchen items and small appliances.

“I've only been here about an hour,” Burkholder as she wheeled her gifts out of the store.

Heather Skobel of Charleroi was placing a new bicycle in her car about a half hour after arriving at the store. She was headed to the tire center to pick up an air hockey game as she relived the experience.

“It's crazy in there,” Skobel said.

But Dawn Cesovski of Donora was less than pleased with her experience.

“It's horrible,” Cesovski said. “They have displays in the middle of the store. I'll never come back again.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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