Early rising shoppers catch sales at stores

Posted: Sunday, December 01, 2002

Some were there for the socks, others for the flannel sheets, some for toys and some just seemed bewildered they would be up at 5 a.m. when there aren't any fish in the Kenai River.

Women waiting for the doors to open at the Soldotna Fred Meyer store the day after Thanksgiving had a strategy. Children, for the most part, were along for the ride; and men, well, many of them seemed like fish out of water.

"It always amazes me. The women are always ready, and the men seem a little bewildered. I give them credit for doing it, though," said Linda Schirmers, a store human resources assistant who was recruited to serve complimentary coffee, juice and doughnut holes to shoppers.

Being a night nurse at Central Peninsula General Hospital, Jennifer Lynn of Sterling was not at all troubled by the early morning start of the shopping day.

"I've been doing this for 18 years," she said.

Lynn and her 17-year-old daughter, Amanda, knew precisely that they were heading for the flannel-sheet sets advertised at half-off during the store's six-hour sale.

Bracing himself for the rush of holiday shoppers, Mike Vix of Kenai referred to the upcoming event as "combat shopping" with obvious comparison to the other crowded peninsula adventure that takes place annually at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai rivers.

With Vix, waiting for the doors to open, were Anthony and Candice Howe, also of Kenai, who looked forward to bargain prices on socks, videos and digital video discs.

The group said they camped out in a van in the Fred Meyer parking lot all night to assure getting in on the good deals.

Mary Booth, of Kenai, also said she was there for the socks, all of which were marked down 50 percent for the traditional first day of Christmas shopping season.

"I did it last year," said Booth.

"I told (my friend) I lifted weights last night to get ready for this ... just kidding," she said.

Crowds were calm and orderly, considering how many people all wanted to begin shopping as soon as the doors were unlocked at 5 a.m.

Kathie Brooks of Kenai had several items on her shopping list and expected to spend about the same amount on Christmas gifts this year as she did last.

"Kathie does this every year," said husband Bob, who was experiencing his first Friday after Thanksgiving sale.

"I think it's a career thing for her," he said.

Saying he is a fisher, Bob Brooks added that he's been up this early and earlier -- just not to go shopping.

Twelve-year-old Jacob Shearer, who was shopping with his mother, Cathy, his sister, Katie, and a friend, Jessica Calvin, did not appear accustomed to the early start as he talked about his special Hot Wheels purchase through a large yawn.

Another first-time door-buster shopper, Hal Smalley, said he came to the sale with his wife who was there for the socks.

Smalley, however, gravitated to the tool aisle and said he was shopping mostly for gifts.

After being defeated in his recent bid for a seat in the Alaska House of Representatives, Smalley jokingly said, "Now I have a lot more time on my hands."

Brian Spotts of Nikiski said he was shopping with his wife, Linda, but they had taken separate shopping carts with a plan to meet back in the electronics department when done.

Asked if he was planning to spend more, less or about the same as last year on gifts, Spotts said, "I think Christmas is for Christ, not for getting a lot of gifts."

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Spotts said, "Sure, we do get a little something for each of the kids."

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