By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer
Sue Modzeleski had lots of reasons to shop at Toys R Us on Thanksgiving.
She got in line with others outside the Montrose store about 4:15 p.m. with temperatures dipping into the 20s. Shortly after doors opened at 5, she and her family walked inside to warm up as well as stuff multiple carts with sale items.
“A bargain’s a bargain. And this is for a good cause,” Modzeleski said.
The Green resident was filling the carts for the Toys for Tots campaign with money raised year-round by about 150 people at her employer, Quality Mold Inc.
“We just want to maximize our dollars,” she said. “The whole company is involved. It was a group effort. We collected some good money this year so the kids will get a lot. We raised more than $1,000.”
Modzeleski was among many people working off big Thanksgiving meals by going shopping on the holiday. Retailers continue to expand hours ahead of what is considered the traditional kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday.
Toys R Us, for instance, opened at 5 p.m. this year. Other major retailers either opened shortly thereafter — or, in Kmart’s case, opened at 6 a.m. Thursday. Retailers made a major stir last year by opening late on Thanksgiving. This year, some retailers pushed opening hours up even further.
Montrose-area Toys R Us store manager Joe Becka, as he did last year, gave employees a pep talk and reminders just ahead of opening. The store was going to remain open through Friday night, with about 120 employees working different shifts.
First in line was Norton resident Don Nettle, 40. He had been waiting outside the store since about 1 p.m.
“I’m buying for my niece and nephew,” he said. “I’m a little cold. I’m a mail carrier, so I’m used to it.”
Allyssa Corl, 21, was second in line. The Barberton resident said she got there about 3 p.m.
“I’m freezing. I can’t feel my fingers or my toes,” she said.
Corl said she wanted to buy a video game on sale for $37 that has a regular price of $80. She said she and her nephew will play the game.
Jamiere Marrow, meanwhile, picked out box after box of baby diapers and wipes that were heavily discounted. He said the items will be Christmas gifts and go to his first grandson, who is expected to be born in May.
“Got here at 4 p.m. We were about 26 in line. It wasn’t that bad,” Marrow said. “Four o’clock, we’re usually done eating.”
He said he and his wife were going to Walmart after they were finished at Toys R Us.
“We’re just looking for the baby,” he said, smiling.
Black Friday is considered one of the two top shopping days of the year, on par with the Saturday before Christmas. Black Friday gets its name because sales supposedly make retailers profitable or “in the black” for the year.
With competition for shoppers’ dollars increasing, major retailers announced they were planning to open earlier on the holiday than they have in years past. One major reason for the push-up in hours is that this year there is a short holiday shopping season — just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Kmart opened stores at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving, 11 to 12 hours ahead of its largest competitors, the same start time as last year. But Kmart expects to keep its stores open through Black Friday this year — it shut stores from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving last year.
Toys R Us stores opened at 5 p.m., followed by Walmart at 6 p.m. The parking lot at the Montrose-area Walmart was almost completely filled shortly before 6. A shopper joked on Twitter that the store needs a shuttle to take people from the back of the parking lot to the front door.
Macy’s and J.C. Penney planned to open many stores at 8 p.m. This is the first time that Macy’s has opened any of its 800 stores on Thanksgiving. Target also was opening in the evening.
The National Retail Federation, the trade association that represents large and small retailers, said it expected as many as 33 million people to shop in a store or online on Thanksgiving. The NRF said it expects as many as 97 million people to shop on Black Friday.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.