The bustle and chaos of Black Friday has dissipated in recent years. But lured in part by half-price name-brand socks, Fred Meyer shoppers still lined up before dawn for the traditional shopping bonanza.
Dawn Sellers rolled up around 4 a.m. Friday at the Fred Meyer in Spokane Valley with her daughter. Both brought a hat, gloves, blankets and a folding chair to wait in the cold until the store opened an hour later.
The line swelled to more than 100 people by the time Fred Meyer let the crowd in, but Sellers said it isn’t like it used to be. Maybe a decade ago, that line would’ve wrapped around the building. And she distinctly remembers that six years ago, some stores would hand out breakfast burritos for those waiting in the cold.
“We’ve gone out since my grandkids were little,” Sellers said. “Not as many stores are open now … but it’s fun.”
Sellers’ mission: half-priced socks. Not the generic brand – “the good kind.”
“Anything you can get for half price, you have to,” Sellers said. “You gotta save every penny.”
Mandy Payne was first in line at Fred Meyer, arriving at 3:30 a.m. in one of her favorite post-Thanksgiving traditions. The night before Black Friday, she and her family sit around after dinner, circling the deals in the newspaper and tagging the items they want. This year, however, she came by herself.
“I’ve been doing this for years. Literally half my life,” Payne said. “It’s a rite of passage. You go shopping and get lunch afterward.”
Payne is so invested in doing shopping in person, she had no idea Black Friday deals were so popular online. That might be part of why Black Friday has become tamer. Stores open later on Black Friday, she said, and fewer people show up.
But for her, the in-person interaction is much too important.
“I do it old-school,” Payne said. “It’s about nostalgia. There was always the nostalgia of getting ready, circling the paper. The fact I’m here by myself is sad now. But when you look at the positives, new things are starting. My daughter can’t wait to shop with us.”
Judy Pridemore was in line around 3:45 a.m. and planted herself right next to Payne. The two had never met, but they became fast friends in the freezing cold. One of the most exciting things about Black Friday is the people you meet, Pridemore said. Sometimes, she’d run into people she saw in line a year earlier.
Pridemore has been Black Friday shopping since her children, now in their early 20s, were little. She remembers, years ago, waiting for a laptop when there were only 39 in stock. She was the 38th in line.
“If we do go shopping, some of the Black Friday deals start weeks before so we get things in advance,” Pridemore said. “We don’t have to fight people or stand in line. But getting the deal was much more exciting back then.”
Payne was planning on making a beeline for the half-priced socks once she got into the store. All of her kids and her husband need socks, she said, and they make great stocking stuffers.
Christie Alvarez got in line just before 5 a.m. with her daughter, and she was also planning on going straight for the socks. She’s been an early-morning Black Friday shopper for 15 years, including when she lived in the Tri-Cities.
“We make a plan, and we go,” Alvarez said.
Most of the families walking into Fred Meyer Friday seemed to have a plan.
One mother pointed at her family member and said, “You go do that.” She pointed at her other family member – “We need to go look for this,” she said, handing him a list.
And they all split up, on a mission for the best deal.