The Christmas holiday shopping season is officially underway as customers headed for retail stores early Friday morning for Black Friday.

A few stores, however, opened Thanksgiving afternoon in an effort to entice shoppers to come out after their turkey dinner and to give them a chance to beat the huge Friday-morning crowds, offered early openings and special bargains.

JC Penney in Roseburg opened its doors at 2 p.m. Thursday when many hadn’t even finished their turkey dinner yet. But the store had a line of people waiting to get in as it gave out some gift certificates to some of the early arriving shoppers.

“This is way better than four in the morning,” said Jennifer Briggs of Myrtle Creek, who came with her daughter Alice Briggs.

“It’s the sales,” said her daughter. “We found some good ones on towels, underwear and socks.”

Frank and Debbie Jacobs of Green had just finished dinner and decided to stop at the store and see what they could find. They found some good sales on baby pajamas, pillows and a few other items they needed.

“There was a couple of things I needed and I didn’t want to go shopping tomorrow,” Debbie Jacobs said.

At the GameStop store in the Garden Valley Center, store officials said they had a pretty constant stream of customers from the opening at 3 p.m. Thursday, and customers were going after some of the popular games.

“Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox, pretty much,” said store manager Ivan Flynn.

Kyle and Teddie Pulver drove up from Myrtle Creek on Thursday afternoon after their dinner and since Kyle Pulver had to work early Friday morning, it gave them a chance to do some early shopping together, and the couple found some good bargains at the video game store.

“We’re huge gamers,” Teddie Pulver said. “We found some stuff at very good prices, half off and you get a free game if you buy two. We beat the rush, so it’s not so crazy.”

Coastal Farm & Ranch in Roseburg had a line nearly all the way around their store for the 5 a.m. Black Friday opening. Store manager Kris Riggins said she expects this year to outsell last year’s holiday sales.

“I think it’s going to be a good year. Last year was a good year and I think this year is going to be even better,” Riggins said. “A lot of generators, dog beds, firearms are a big deal, clothing, boots, Romeo (shoes) are always popular.”

Ralph Carlson, the first in line at Coastal, arrived at about 12:15 a.m. Friday. Carlson said he drove home late Thursday night after his wife finished on-call duty at a Longview, Washington hospital and he decided to go right to the store.

“I decided to just come by here instead of going on out to the house, and I was dressed warm enough, and we wanted to get a gun safe,” Carlson said.

“We’ve been looking for a while and this one was half price.”

Dan Feifer of Sutherlin, who was the third person in line, arrived at Coastal at 2:30 a.m., has tried online shopping, but prefers to go in the store to find what he needs, and he didn’t mind the cold weather.

“My toes are pretty cold,” the bundled up Feifer said. “But what I noticed is it’s much easier to navigate through the store and actually see what you want than it is to navigate online.”

The parking lot at Fred Meyer was jam-packed with vehicles as the store’s traditional “Sock Sale” drew its usual huge crowd of people buying for Christmas, and also many that were just stocking up on socks for the year.

Lorna Blansett has been coming up from Canyonville for the sock sale for 20 years. This year, she didn’t arrive until a little later than normal — only 4:45 for the 5 a.m. opening.

“We didn’t do it as early because there are always plenty of socks,” Blansett said. “It’s tradition, we come every year and stock up on socks, my son puts in his order and then we buy the socks, that’s what the children want.”

With some of the stores opening on Thanksgiving afternoon, the frantic pace of the early Friday morning openings has tempered a bit, but the lure of the early morning bargains and the tradition of early openings still appears to be drawing good crowds.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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