By Rachel Peoples –
When do you start your Christmas shopping? Maybe you have a family tradition to get up early on Black Friday and hit the mall with friends. Or maybe you like to peruse the deals after your Thanksgiving meal with family. Whatever the case, there’s no denying that Black Friday comes a little earlier each year.
The Associated Press reported last week that many stores are opening up to two hours earlier on Thanksgiving Day than last year, while others, such as J.C. Penney and Macy’s, are planning to be open on Thanksgiving Day for the first time this year. The AP reports that store representatives say their new hours are reflective of customer feedback.
In Stephenville, several stores, such as Big Lots, Beall’s and Rue 21, have joined the trend and plan to open the evening of Thanksgiving, saying the fact that Tarleton is a “suitcase college” hasn’t affected their numbers.
Sears sales associate Josh Chappell says they sold over half their holiday deals the evening of Thanksgiving last year. “It’s pretty crazy,” he said, but added he thinks a lot of Stephenville locals flock to the larger metroplexes to do their holiday shopping.
Walmart assistant manager Guy Nelson says it’s hard to say whether the college town environment affects holiday business. “Tarleton’s a suitcase college,” he said, “but we still get a huge turnout.” Nelson said Walmart’s sales reached $1 million last Thanksgiving, compared to the Walmart in Granbury, which did as well as $1.2 million.
On the other hand, some local businesses, such as retail store Not Too Shabby, are closing for Thanksgiving Day, saying that business is too slow to justify staying open. The Blue Flamingo boutique has yet to make a decision on whether they will open on the holiday or not. “We’ve never had a good Black Friday,” said a store representative. “Our college students tend to go home and locals tend to go to Fort Worth.”
Burke’s Outlet lead supervisor Theresa Randolph says she thinks that Stephenville businesses have a competitive edge over some other towns since a lot of students’ parents like to visit and many locals don’t want to make the trip to a larger city. However, she says they won’t be joining the trend anytime soon because of the company’s philosophy. “We are family-oriented,” she said. “We believe in spending time with your family on Thanksgiving.”
Rachel Peoples is a junior Broadcast Journalism student from Weatherford, Texas. She currently serves as the Distributive Reporting Editor and staff writer for Texan News Service.