Early birds get the deals

Worms? Oak Harbor’s early birds this week didn’t care about worms. They were looking for deals, and there were plenty of them as the Christmas shopping season officially began.

The city’s two major retailers, Wal-Mart and Kmart, had no trouble coaxing bargain hunters from their beds long before the sun rose over the Cascades.

The earliest risers went to K-Mart on Friday morning. At 5 a.m. when the doors opened, there were 90 people lined up to get first crack at the bargains, according to Kim Connolly, store manager.

“It was wonderful,” Connolly said, describing the early-morning interest. When the doors swung opened, customers rushed to the toy section for $10 Huffy scooters and $4.99 Britney Spears dolls. Connolly said one clerk found an unopened box of Britney dolls and “there were customers chasing her around.”

K-Mart was also opened on Thanksgiving Day, although the doors didn’t open until 7 a.m., giving early birds an extra two hours of sleep. This time the bargains were in the electronics section: a 19-inch color TV for $79.86, for example. “They were gone within an hour,” Connolly said.” A DVD player for $69.98 sold out withing three hours.

The first two mornings of Christmas shopping were promising for Connolly, who has worked at the Oak Harbor store since it opened. “We did much better than last year,” she said.

Wal-Mart was closed on Thanksgiving but made up for the missing business on Friday. Store manager Greg Boynton arrived at work at 5:30 a.m. and there was already a long line of customers waiting to get in.

By the time Wal-Mart’s doors opened at 6 a.m. the throng of shoppers wended its way from the main entry to the garden center, about 200 yards away.

Boynton said his early Friday shoppers “seemed to like the toys -- they’re taking care of the kids.” The home electronics section also drew a crowd.

Boyntron is expecting a good Christmas season, particularly if it matches the rest of the year for the Oak Harbor Wal-Mart. “Our store sales are up in the strong double digits,” he said.

Both stores have full shelves awaiting later customers, who probably won’t realize that the early birds got the best deals.

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