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Hunting for deals in the dark

Shoppers will need a plan to snag the best deals on Black Friday

Chad Bryan had begun fielding the questions days ago.

“Yeah, we’ve got people coming in here, trying to procure fliers, asking about what the best deals are going to be,” said Bryan, who supervises the children’s, footwear and home areas at the Batavia Kohl’s store.

“I suspect they’re already trying to plan out what they’re going to do Friday morning,” Bryan added with a laugh.

As Thanksgiving weekend nears, so, too, does an annual rite of the season: Black Friday.

This year, however, Black Friday will extend even further into Thursday than ever before, as a large number of retailers will open and have their registers ringing well before midnight.

Walmart and Toys R Us will unleash their specially discounted items – or “doorbusters” – at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Gander Mountain, a retailer specializing in hunting equipment and other outdoor gear, will be making its special sale items available all day on Thanksgiving, from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Most other retailers will follow quickly, opening at some point between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

And, as each store will offer its own assortment of deeply discounted, high-demand items, it will force would-be deal hunters to make decisions on which stores to visit, and when.

At the Geneva outlet for appliances and electronics retailer hhGregg, store general manager Rebecca Jacobs said her store will open at 10 p.m.

She expects customers will begin lining up outside the doors at about 5 p.m., as they seek to secure one of the chain’s elusive “golden tickets,” entitling them to one of the doorbuster items available. This year, that assortment includes tablet computers, French door refrigerators, high-efficiency washers and dryers, and perennial favorite, flat-screen televisions.

Jacobs said her team has enhanced the queuing experience for would-be customers this year, as employees will be outside with customers, helping them decide what products to buy and assisting them with credit applications in the hours before the store opens.

“We’ve strategized a little harder this year, and we think we’ll be prepared to deliver the level of customer service people expect from hhGregg,” Jacobs said.

She said customers thus far are most interested in one item.

“This year, the most exciting item is tablets,” Jacobs said. “By far.”

At Kohl’s, which will open at midnight and will feature doorbuster deals on clothing, shoes, electronics, toys and more, Bryan said employees are already bracing for the long lines of deal seekers.

“We all know what’s coming,” Bryan said. “So people should definitely have a plan.

“We do.”

Black Friday

Retailers will open earlier than ever for Black Friday sales, with many unleashing their so-called doorbuster deals on Thanksgiving Day.

Deals, as always, will be steep.

But deal seekers desiring to maximize their haul will need a plan.

Savvy shoppers – or those wanting to be savvy – can visit an assortment of websites in advance of Thursday. One of our favorites is, which features the Black Friday ads for most of the country’s major retailers on one page. Visitors to the site can learn more about each item in the ads by clicking on the various images of the items in the ad.

But if you don’t want to do that much work, here is some information to help make your evening (and early morning) more enjoyable:

– Be aware of when the various stores are opening. Following is a list of the beginning times for Black Friday sales at various major retailers in the Tri-Cities and nearby communities:

8 p.m. Thursday – Walmart, Toys R Us

9 p.m. Thursday –Target

10 p.m. Thursday – HhGregg

Midnight – Best Buy, GameStop, Kohl’s, Carson Pirie Scott, Chicago Premium Outlets, many stores at Geneva Commons

5 a.m. Friday – Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards

6 a.m. Friday – Meijer, Officemax, JC Penney

7 a.m. Friday – Sam’s Club

9 a.m. Friday – Costco

– Each store will have its own assortment of deals. We have searched through many of the ads, and these are some of the best we found:

Best mid-sized TV deals – Toshiba 40-inch 1080p LCD, $179.99 at Best Buy; Emerson 50-inch 1080p LCD, $298 at Walmart

Best Big TV deal – Mitsubishi 73-inch HDTV, $799.99 at hhGregg

Best appliance deal – Stainless steel French door refrigerator (brand name withheld), $888 at hhGregg

Best cellphone deal – Samsung Galaxy S III, 96 cents with two-year contract at Sam’s Club

Best tablet deals - iPad 2 16GB, $399.99, with $100 off next shopping trip, at Meijer; Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 8GB, $179.99 with $20 gift card, at Best Buy

Best toy deals – Disney Princess Ultimate Dream Castle, $120 at Meijer; All LEGO toys, 40 percent off, at Toys R Us; Folding scooters with light-up wheels, $19 at Target; Furby, $45 at Walmart; Fisher Price Grand Dollhouse, $39.99 at Toys R Us; Disney Princess Ultimate Fairy Tale Kitchen, $49.99 at Target.

Best home items deals – Dyson DC 24 multifloor vacuum cleaner, $269 at Target; Stanley 150-piece mechanics tool set, $49.88 at Walmart; Roku streaming video players, $39 to $79 at Best Buy.
– Jonathan Bilyk

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