Firas Alhasani had a plan. Get in. Get the TV. Get out.
“I’m here,” he said. “I’m the first one.”
Such is the life of a Black Friday shopper. Especially one who shows up three hours early to get the coveted first spot in line.
Only, it wasn’t Friday. It was Thursday – 30 minutes before J.C. Penney at the NorthTown Mall was set to open at 2 p.m. for early Thanksgiving shopping. By the time the doors opened, more than 200 people had descended on the store with a steady stream of shoppers pouring in throughout the afternoon.
Like Alhasani, plenty of others decided to get an early jump on their holiday shopping lists, like Sue Hahn, who showed up about an hour after Alhasani.
“I was second, and I didn’t get here until 11:30,” she said, adding that she too was in the market for a new TV.
Botir Okhun, a student at Washington State University, is from Pittsburgh but lives in Pullman. He had nothing but time to kill, seeing how he wasn’t spending Thanksgiving with family.
“It’s mostly for myself,” he said of his planned trip through J.C. Penney. “Just anything. Winter stuff, clothes.”
Punctuating the soft murmur of people in the crowd was Assistant Store Manager Mark Wardrip, who handed out pamphlets and shouted through a megaphone. As they waited and checked their phones and advertisements, he paced the long line, reminding them to be cordial to others when the doors opened – and maybe sign up for that J.C. Penney credit card.
“You will be safe,” he said. “You will be respectful.”
Now in his third year of working Black Friday at J.C. Penney, he said he knows all the tricks – expect a line, keep it orderly and make sure people have fun.
“I love it,” he said. “I’m a people person. That’s why I’ve been in retail for 15 years.”
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