Dayton, Ohio – The threat of coronavirus didn’t stop some shoppers from carrying out the tradition of shopping early for Black Friday deals at local stores.
Dressed in matching clothing, Kristi Daniel and her family and friends stood outside of Target near the Dayton Mall carrying on a tradition they’ve done for the past 15 years.
“We used to get up and take our mother shopping every night. We would go right out after Thanksgiving and go out all night long,” Daniel said.
On Friday, they picked out matching shirts and their mother made them masks to match. They come shopping for Christmas gifts but said that it’s really to be together and have fun.
“It’s more a camaraderie, bonding moment with our mom,” said Kelly Wolfe.
The self-proclaimed dedicated shoppers said the main difference between this year and years past is the crowds.
“There’s not a lot of people and all the sales have already been out so its not like you’re running to get something, but it’s still fun,” Wolfe said.
Some stores saw long lines ahead of businesses opening, while others hardly had a line at all … in many of those cases, by design. Many businesses have offered Black Friday pricing for weeks, trying to spread out shoppers to avoid crowding stores.
A long line formed outside the Cabela’s on North Cornerstone Boulevard in Centerville on Friday morning.
Joe Cloud, who stood at the front of the line, said he had arrived at 1:30 a.m. intending to buy a gun at the sporting goods store, and said that he had never waited in line this long to buy something.
He said that another person joined the line an hour later, followed by a wave of people around 4 a.m.
When asked if the coronavirus had changed anything for him this year, Cloud said that other than wearing masks, things hadn’t changed much.
At the Beavercreek Walmart on Pentagon Boulevard, about 30 people had already lined up, socially distant, outside of the store at 4:30 a.m.
Emily Martin was the first person in line. She said she was planning on buying Christmas presents for her kids, ages four, five and 14, though she wasn’t sure what exactly she planned on buying yet. She said they had asked for a lot of Xbox games.
Martin said the pandemic had made things difficult for her family because work hours have been cut.
“It’s a lot more harder of a struggle, but we seem to manage,” she said.
Rose Hernandez of Dayton said she hoped to buy bicycles for Christmas for her three kids, ages eight, five and two. Bicycles were priced at $29 each instead of the usual $40 or $50, she said.
She said Black Friday shopping does seem different this year.
“I think crowds will be less large because of COVID, and more people are interested in buying online,” Hernandez said.
She said she felt safe being out shopping because people were wearing masks and carts were being wiped down.
Juan Gonzalez of Beavercreek said he hoped to get a PS5 for his 11-year-old son. He said shopping feels different now than it did last year, but generally safe.
By 5 a.m., the line extended down the block.
Gwen and Van Vo said they were shopping for birthday and Christmas presents for their four kids. They said they were able to find a lot of what they were looking for, but not everything they were expecting.
Gwen Vo said there were fewer TVs and kids’ toys on sale this year, it seemed. Van Vo said he thought a lot of those items were probably being sold online this year.
A little more than 30 people stood in line outside the Best Buy near the Dayton Mall before doors opened at 5 a.m. Tom Strickland, of Farmersville, was in line with his two sons to buy gaming laptops.
When asked why he was out, he said, “Because they made me.”
Strickland said that they were no stranger to Black Friday shopping.
“Maybe not every year, but we have quite a few years,” he said.
Best Buy employees told those waiting in line that the Nintendo Switch was low in stock, after selling quite a few Thursday.
Julie Doliboa, of Camden, said she came to Best Buy for the best deal on a 55-inch Vizio television.
“I studied all of this and the discounts and everything, and even on the Internet it said for the Black Friday, that’s the best deal,” she said.
Doliboa said that she was surprised at how short lines were this year, as she goes Black Friday shopping every year.
Normally she brings her family, she said, but on Friday she shopped alone.
At Best Buy on Centre Drive in Fairborn, only a few shoppers were inside the store.
David Huff, who bought a FitBit and a sound bar as gifts, said the store didn’t seem crowded this year, and employees did a good job of keeping people distanced and requiring people to wear masks. Huff said he generally shopped in Black Friday and felt this year was calmer than most.
“It’s not as crowded, very, very calm,” Huff said.
Best Buy employees were also delivering orders to cars in pickup parking spaces Friday morning.
Menard’s opened its store on Ohio 741 in Miamisburg an hour early at 5 a.m. after seeing the line forming outside.
“I saw the lineup and I was like you know we better open up because I don’t know how it’s going to be at the other end,” said Bill Hamilton, general manager of Menards
The store was scheduled to open at 6 a.m. Hamilton said he was concerned that people wouldn’t be able to properly social distance if he hadn’t opened the store early.