Early shoppers get the deals

One of the best ways to shop during the holiday season is to get an early start. That way the most dedicated shoppers can take advantage of the early sales and the great selection.

Some Oak Harbor shoppers took that theory to heart and arrived at local stores hours before opening Friday morning.

Jessie Garcia and Shannon Simpkins arrived at Wal-Mart at 2 a.m. to ensure they would be the first in line for the 6 a.m. opening.

Garcia said they had a better place in line than last year when the arrived at 4 a.m. and found themselves in the middle of a line of aggressive shoppers.

“It was an absolute zoo last year,” Garcia said. She and Simpkins were at the store yesterday to buy a television, an X-box and to look at the selection of cameras.

About two hours after they arrived, other shoppers picked up a shopping cart and staked out their space in line.

By the time the store opened at 6 a.m., a line with hundreds of people, many with shopping carts, stretched past the garden section to the end of the building. To keep warm in the near-freezing weather, many stopped at espresso shops to pick up hot cups of coffee.

Both Wal-Mart and Kmart opened an hour early Friday to take advantage of shoppers wanting to get the best deals and selection on what is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

In the minutes leading up to the store opening at Wal-Mart, sales associates walked the length of the line and handed out maps to the eager shoppers.

Along with the maps, many shoppers had store ads in hand. Small groups huddled together to figure out the best way to shop when the doors opened.

Many shoppers were interested in buying electronics, toys and bikes.

“I’m just trying to get ahead of the game,” said Oak Harbor resident Roland Payne who was interested in DVD players and game systems.

Another shopper, Oak Harbor resident Jacque Larue, showed up early to ensure she could buy the right toys for her daughter. She wanted to buy a Leap Frog Learning set and Care Bears. Some of the toys she was buying Friday were popular when she was a child.

“All the stuff that was big when I was little my daughter plays with,” Larue said.

Besides taking advantage of the early morning sales, some found the scene itself noteworthy. One Oak Harbor family decided to show two foreign exchange students this bit of Americana, even though it meant rising early on a school holiday.

“We figured to let them know what an American tradition it is,” said Oak Harbor resident Becky Moss.

Standing with Moss in the early morning cold were Suranya Chawanrattasanakul, an exchange student from Bangkok, Thailand and Kristina Ki, originally from South Korea who is a former exchange student here currently attending the University of Indiana.

For Jodi Jacakowicz, waiting in line hours before the holiday shopping season commences provides the opportunity to mingle with like-minded individuals.

“You meet a lot of people. It’s fun,” said Jacakowicz, who arrived at Wal-Mart at around 4 a.m.

She should know. The day before, on Thanksgiving, she arrived at Kmart at approximately 4:30 a.m. to get an early start on a holiday sale.

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