It’s the post-Thanksgiving holiday when budget lines fade from red to black as shoppers flock bright and early to Kenai Peninsula retailers offering deep discounts on everything from socks to rifles.
Those hoping to get a jump on the competition and holiday shopping — like Andrea Bock, of Soldotna — headed to Walmart in Kenai on Thursday night.
“I went … at 6 p.m. to get a TV for the bedroom,” she said. “They only had a couple of those.”
Bock said she wouldn’t typically shop on Thanksgiving Day, but made an exception for the deal.
As she dug through a bin of discounted socks at Soldotna’s Fred Meyer retailer just after 5 a.m. on Friday, Bock joked that she liked to shop early on Black Friday because she could do it alone.
“This is the only way I can be sure that the kids will be home and watched by my husband. They’ll be sleeping,” she said.
Also, she said, discount dog beds go quickly at the retailer.
“I pretty much only come here for the sock thing. I don’t really come here for gifts. I come here for household items like new pillows and new socks. I’ll probably be done after that,” she said. “This helps with the missing sock battle. You just throw them away and start over.”
After leaving Fred Meyers, Bock said she’d likely head to Jo-Anne Fabric and Craft store, Home Depot and then to an annual craft fair at Kenai Central High School.
Bock said she remembered Black Friday shopping being busier in 2014.
“Last year was nuts, this year is a lot more mellow,” she said.
Elsewhere in Soldotna, shoppers headed to Sportsman’s Warehouse at 6 a.m. for discounted Friday-only deals on shotguns, rifles, handguns and ammo. A long glass gun counter, set off by rope and signs encouraging shoppers to form orderly lines, was easily the busiest area of the store.
Many of the deals changed by 10 a.m and store manager Eric Dahlman said the store typically got busier at about 9 a.m.
As he stood by the front door, passing circulars to the steady stream of customers who walked in, Dahlman said the firearms and safes are probably the top-selling discounted items for Black Friday.
A woman laughed as Dahlman offered her a cup of Starbucks coffee and a cookie, saying she needed to wake up.
“What? Sleep?” Dahlman said with mock horror.
Other shoppers sought an experience different than those offered at chain retailers and big-box stores.
Caitlin Coreson, of Kenai and her mother Carey Green, browsed quirky Christmas ornaments, glittering birds, high-end kitchen wares and home decorations at Northcountry Fair in Soldotna.
The two said they were looking for Christmas presents and always seek to buy locally.
“I actually work for (the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District),” Coreson said. “So I support buying local. All we’re going to do today, hopefully, is buy local.”
The two easily listed a number of local retailers they’d visit for the day including Orange Poppy — a home furnishing store in Soldotna — and a new cutlery store near Kenai.
Green said often they could find gifts that were better representative of unique Alaskan culture at local shops.
While local retailers offered the same types of deep discounts on big-ticket items as the chains stores, they often do not open as early.
Beemuns Variety and True Value didn’t open its doors until 8 a.m. while Sweeney’s Clothing didn’t open until 9 a.m., hours after many shoppers had started their morning rush for goods.
Liz Schmitt, owner of Northcountry Fair, said she never opens earlier than 10 a.m. on Black Friday.
“People need to be with their families, that is so nuts,” she said, laughing.
When she arrived to open the store, the parking lot was already full, Schmitt said. It’s typical for her store on this retail day as many of the specials they offer —including a deeply discounted 8-piece knife block and other kitchen items — are in small quantities and will be gone by Monday.
Schmitt said she doesn’t do a lot of giftwrapping on Black Friday.
“Most people, they’re decorating their houses. They’re buying for themselves,” she said.
Reach Rashah McChesney at firstname.lastname@example.org