Black Friday comes early

HOUGHTON – Cheryl and Bill Stimac were in the Houghton area from Lena, Wis., and decided to take time out late Thursday morning before their Thanksgiving get-togethers to check out the deals at the Houghton Shopko and do some Christmas shopping.

“We just came shopping between the dinners,” Cheryl said.

Shopko was open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday for pre-Black Friday shopping, and Cheryl Stimac said they came after checking out the sales in various stores’ flyers, but it could be confusing.

“There’s so many you have to have your notebook out,” she said.

Although they were beating the crowds by shopping Thursday, Cheryl Stimac said they would be back at it today.

“We’ll be shopping all weekend long,” she said.

Tracy Immonen of Atlantic Mine, who was also shopping at Shopko Thursday and had a cart full of items, said she was also doing mostly Christmas shopping, but also buying outdoor clothing for her children.

Immonen said she was finding good deals in the store, with some of the items she bought marked at 50 percent off the regular price.

Since she did most of her shopping Thursday, Immonen said she didn’t plan to come back early today, but she might do more shopping later.

Bill Chizek, Houghton Shopko store manager, said Thursday although there were sale prices during the Thanksgiving Day hours, he expected the greatest number of shoppers later Thursday and today.

Chizek said Shopko reopened at 8 p.m. Thursday and will close at 11 p.m. today for Black Friday.

All of the store’s staff were expected to be at the store from 8 p.m. Thursday on.

“Everybody will work,” he said.

Chizek said he expected shoppers to line up in front of the store by 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Three years ago, Chizek said the Houghton Shopko opened at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Two years ago it opened at midnight, and last year it opened at 9 p.m. Thursday and closed at 11 p.m. Friday.

The changes in hours of operation are due to business concerns, Chizek said.

“We have to keep up with our competitors,” he said.

Chizek wouldn’t comment on the revenue the store makes during the Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales.

At 5:30 a.m. today, Adam Johnson, Houghton Shopko general merchandise manager, said shoppers were lining up in front of the store at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and the line stretched to the Tadych’s Econo Foods next door.

“It was pretty nuts,” he said of the crowds.

At about 12:30 a.m. today, Johnson said the crowds thinned out then picked up again at 4:30 a.m. today.

“We did have a 5 a.m. door buster,” he said. “A lot of (shoppers) liked 5 a.m.”

Two of those shoppers in early this morning were Pam Haller and Gerard Fountain of Tamarack City and Lake Linden, respectively.

Haller said they arrived at 5:30 a.m. and were surprised there wasn’t a large crowd of shoppers.

Besides doing some Christmas shopping, Haller said she came early for another reason.

“Because it’s fun,” she said.

Fountain said the hour wasn’t really a problem for them.

“We’re usually up this early,” he said.

Lucas Hanson, Shopko general merchandise sales associate, said he started work at 7 p.m. Thursday and expected to be working until 6 a.m. today.

Hanson said in order to avoid some crowding in the store, some sales associates went outside to people in line to see if they could make sales there. Despite that, there were still lines of people winding through the store to get to the cash registers.

“As soon as 8 o’clock hit, it was really busy,” he said. “We had questions left and right.”

When the crowds thinned out about 1 a.m. today, Hanson said employees were able to do some straightening up of the store.

Each year, Hanson said store employees learn something about operating during the Black Friday sales, which helped this year.

“It was good this year,” he said.