Thanksgiving sales add to shopping bonanza

Herald Staff Writer

Black Friday started on Thursday this year for many department stores in the county.

The National Retail Federation conducted its annual holiday shopping survey, and for the first time this year asked respondents whether they planned to shop on Thanksgiving to take advantage of early deals. Nearly one quarter — 33 millions shoppers — said they would hit the stores with their bellies still full of turkey Thursday evening.

Staff at Kmart in Jasper began sales early Thursday morning and the deals lasted through the evening. Store manager Mark Kay said crowds were some of the biggest in recent memory.

“The evening hours almost took me by surprise. It was probably the best we’ve ever done,” Kay said. “It was incredible. With 40 years in the field, you’d think I’d get used to it, but I haven’t. I think people just like to come out. It’s a tradition to fight the crowds and the hustle and bustle.”

Across town, Carson’s opened its doors at 8 p.m. Thursday to eager shoppers. Store manager Sherry Pierce said she was pleased with the turnout at the store’s first ever Black Thursday sale.

“Not knowing what to expect on the first time opening at 8 o’clock, it was really good,” she said. “We’re very pleased with the crowds that we have.”

Pierce said the top-selling items so far have been Keurig coffee makers, children’s toys, outerwear and accessories. This year is the first that the cosmetics department is included in the doorbuster event, which has been a popular change with shoppers.

After a short lull in the crowds early this morning, Carson’s again began filling up with patrons about 8 a.m. People milled around in the clothing and home sections, looking for good deals to purchase for themselves or as Christmas presents for others. Friends Becky Kraus and Adrienne Kraft, both of Jasper, ran into each other while in the vacuum aisle in the store. Kraus had been shopping since 6 a.m., but she always strategically misses the largest crowds.

“I won’t come out into the mob. Years ago, I came out one time. It was probably 22 or 23 years ago. People took the stuff out of my cart,” Kraus said. “I thought, I am never ever going to do that again. I will come later when it’s calm.”

Kraus and Kraft planned to continue their shopping throughout the day unless large crowds forced them to call it quits early. Both women agreed that adding Thursday into the shopping schedule made the pack thinner for their trip this morning, but that opening stores on Thanksgiving takes away from an important holiday.

“I still wish that they wouldn’t have it on Thursday,” Kraft said. “People are leaving their Thanksgiving early and people have to work on Thanksgiving. It will get earlier and earlier.”

Some Carson’s patrons had made the trip from outside the county to find deals. Sisters Lynn McCrary and Cathy Troutman, along with Troutman’s daughter Lisa Baker, traveled from Shoals to Jasper early this morning for a long day of browsing and buying. Their route from Martin County to Dubois County to the larger stores in Evansville is a yearly tradition, but the women decided not to brave the crowds on Thanksgiving evening.

“We thought maybe since they opened up yesterday we wouldn’t be in a big crowd,” Troutman said as she and McCrary perused a shelf of cosmetics.

Many local retailers kept the doors closed on Thursday but still provided enticing deals this morning.
At Siebert’s in Jasper, the deals begin today and last through the Christmas season. It is a Black Friday tradition for Joseph “Swampy” Schoenbachler of Jasper to come to Siebert’s to carve and sell his famous wooden Santa Claus statues. Like many other local merchants, the store will welcome customers on Small Business Saturday as well.

“We always do nice business,” owner Jim Siebert said of the weekend. “There are lots of people off work  and lots of people out. People are starting to get in the mood (to shop) after Thanksgiving.”

Contact Claire Moorman at

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