A foggy Friday morning greeted bargain hunters in Spokane, many of whom said Black Friday ain’t like it used to be.
“We used to do the whole thing where we’d drop off cars, when it was dire to find a parking spot,” said Kelsy Shatto who was queued up outside the Target in Spokane Valley shortly before 7 a.m., when the doors opened.
“We do take two cars, because we fill them up,” said her mother, Nancy Shatto.
The Shattos were in line, like they have been for more than a decade, to buy discounted merchandise not for themselves, but for an adopted family of nine from the Marshall Islands through Nancy Shatto’s work. She held a list of toys, clothes and other items that they were checking off as they moved from store to store.
“We’ll go to Old Navy for clothes, and Walmart for shoes,” she said.
Nancy Shatto also was picking up items for a toy sale at her place of worship, Opportunity Presbyterian Church. Low-income families, by invitation, can come to buy discounted gifts for their loved ones that are donated by members, like the Shattos.
As the clock struck 7, shoppers waiting in line started filing into the store, while others emerged from running cars in the parking lot in hopes of a deal.
Maddie Passmore stood in line with her four friends. It was their first time shopping on Black Friday as a group, but Target wasn’t their first stop.
“We went to Walmart. It was crazy, it was blowing up,” Passmore said.
Alesha Hodge was looking for a PlayStation 5 for her son. She’d struck out in online sales for the item, which is once again at the top of wish lists for its third Christmas of release. Supply chain issues and widespread online scalping have made procuring Sony’s latest console difficult.
“It’s just – is it in stock?” Hodge asked. “They want the one with the disc, not the digital one. They’re all hard to find.”
Sure enough, shoppers at Target flocked to the electronics section once the store was opened, and cashiers were called over the loudspeaker to help the growing crowd.
Things were less frenzied at the Fred Meyer on Thor and Freya by 6 a.m. Sisters Mindy Buller and Lanae Sanchez, both of Spokane, picked through the half-price socks as has become tradition.
“We always start at Fred Meyer,” Sanchez said. “This is the time of year the family gets socks.”
The sisters said they made it on the local news 20 years ago, when they pretended to be fighting over an item at Shopko. The crowds aren’t as big now, they said.
“We used to wait in line,” Sanchez said.
“This is just a time to get out, and get a little uninterrupted shopping time,” Buller added.
Linda Nelson has also made Black Friday shopping with the family a tradition. She and her daughters, Meagan Garrett and Abbigail Blakney, paused for a Cinnabon breakfast at the Spokane Valley Mall after hitting a few stores early Friday morning.
The deals aren’t as good as they once were, the women said, and there also used to be giveaways. Blakney has a set of stuffed animals from the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” stop motion special from 1964 that were handed out over subsequent years at a department store, she said.
“I have Rudolph, Clarice and Bumbles – the abominable snowman – from J.C. Penney, for three years in a row,” Blakney said. “They’re stuffed animals, about this big,” she said, holding her hands about a foot apart. “They sit on my couch, they play ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ each one of them.”
Linda Nelson has been taking her daughters to the stores on Black Friday since they “were in strollers,” Garrett said. Since the pandemic, crowds have been smaller, the selection has been more limited and the giveaways also are fewer and farther between.
“It’s quiet. I feel like there’s not as many stores open as early at the mall, and I feel like the deals aren’t as good,” she said.
Nelson said she wished the stores would loop in a traditional carol in between all the commercial holiday hits.
“I get that not everybody celebrates Christmas because it’s the birth of Christ,” Nelson said. “But, you know, every 400th secular song, they could throw in ‘Silent Night,’ or ‘O Holy Night.’ ”
“I’m sorry, I can’t stand the ‘Last Christmas’ one,” Nelson said, referring to the 1984 hit from the British pop duo Wham! It, and its many cover versions, have become staples of holiday playlists.
Even with the dwindling crowds, and unwanted holiday earworms, Nelson and her daughters said getting out on Friday morning was still worth it.
“We’re just mostly out for the fun,” Nelson said.
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