Shoppers ignore storm

Shopping on Whidbey Island Friday could be described as “electric,” judging by the number of television sets, DVD players, computers and camcorders being pushed toward cash registers.

In addition to these high-end products, waffle irons, coffee pots, vacuum cleaners and karaoke systems crowded shopping carts.

Many consider the day after Thanksgiving to be the official start of holiday shopping. Retailers record the lion’s share of their yearly sales during the critical weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Whidbey Island shoppers weren’t about to let a little rough weather prevent them from boosting local economy.

Punishing wind blowing cold rain didn’t deter shoppers — folks ready to grab the best deals lined up early.

By 6:15 a.m., Marcie Mallari and her son Mike were finished shopping at Kmart.

“I got a present for my dad,” Mike said.

“I came for the gift card, but was too late,” Marcie laughed. “But I shopped anyway.” Kmart offered $100 gift cards to the first 100 shoppers.

By the time the Mallaris got in the door a few minutes after 6 a.m., the gift cards were gone.

Angela and John Clark got to Wal-Mart too late to capture a $30 DVD player so the couple headed to Radio Shack and waited for the store’s 7 a.m. sale.

“People were coming out of Wal-Mart before we got to the building,” Angela said. “We’ll get what we need here.”

John Clark didn’t plan on making early shopping the day after Thanksgiving a tradition. “It’s crazy,” he said as he pulled up his parka hood.

“I’m hoping to find some good deals,” Lasa Smith said, explaining why he was up and out on a gloomy, stormy morning. “I want whatever looks really nice for Christmas at really nice prices,” he said.

At Wal-Mart wind ripping off the water tested shoppers’ coordination and reflexes as they navigated carts stacked with bulky, outsized boxes. Inside, the going was marginally easier with no wind to fight. Checkout lines snaked around the store but were moving steadily.

Marcie and Mike Mallori had filled their cart with small electronics, linens and deeply discounted fall-themed merchandise.

“We’ll be standing in line longer here,” Marci said. “Just look at all the deals.”

Roger and Lynnette Hayes negotiated Wal-Mart’s wet, parking lot carefully. Their haul included a large TV and DVD player.

“We didn’t see anyone here at 5:30,” Lynnette said. “When we got back at 5:45, the place was packed.”

Although they had already made big purchases, the couple was heading back to the store for round two: Toys.

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