Thanksgiving is for family - but Black Friday is for shopping, most Black Friday shoppers surveyed for an hour at the Lycoming Mall said.
They also noted a trend due to Black Thursday: many big-ticket items on sale were picked over by Friday, and the crowd was smaller on Friday than usual. But that trade-off was OK for some, they said.
However, one family surveyed made it a two-day shopping extravaganza. Amy Harpster, 36, of Mill Hall, went with her daughter Octavia, 17, and said it had been a busy marathon. They got home by 11 p.m. Thursday evening, and went back out at 3:30 a.m. after a short nap.
Kohl’s Associate Kim Bailey hands out shopping bags to customers entering the store on Thursday evening for Black Friday sales.
Thursday night was far busier than Friday morning, they said.
"It takes the pressure off Friday," Amy Harpster said.
Despite going both days, they spent about the same, mostly on clothes.
They convinced their friend Kim Pierson, of Beech Creek, to go with them Friday morning for her first Black Friday shopping event, and she got everything on her list, mostly clothes for the kids. She said she was enjoying it, and it was far less busy Friday than she'd expected.
Edna Fisher, 76, was part of the four generations in her family shopping together that day, there with her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandson. They started their day off at 7:30 a.m., shopping mostly for kids clothes.
They've done this for almost a decade now, but Fisher said this year seemed less busy than other years, attributing it to early Thursday openings.
"I think they're pushing it too far," she said of stores opening early on Thanksgiving.
The real meaning
She's thankful her family realizes holidays aren't about gifts, but about family. They're thankful even when there's only a $2 item in the cart, and she said with the way things are going economically, those $2 items become more necessary than ever.
"Things are going up and up, but we're not," Fisher said. Things are especially difficult on a fixed income, she said, when prices rise but Social Security remains static.
The day was a family affair for mother-daughter duo Michele Dougherty, 60, of Milton and daughter Heather Hullihan, 37, of Snydertown. They've gone Black Friday shopping together for the past 25 years or so.
"It's our thing," Dougherty said.
A different matter
But Black Thursday is a different matter.
"I don't think you should have to leave the dinner table (on Thanksgiving) and run out to the store; that's ridiculous," Dougherty said. She said she couldn't fathom dashing out to the store after eating all that turkey. "I was so sleepy!"
Hullihan said she's spending less overall this year as the family grows, but more on her 2-year-old son.
One thing Dougherty said should be added to the mall - a bar. "I'll need a drink after this," she exclaimed.
Elise Gordner, 27, of Avis, was shopping with her mom, sister and grandma, a many-year tradition. Her best deal of the day was a $3 crockpot, and she thought deals were better this year, so she was spending less.
She too didn't like the idea of Black Thursday, and said stores should be closed for families and workers alike.
"We'll never come on Thursday because that's our family time," Gordner said.
An anonymous Montgomery woman, 51, said she couldn't find as many items on sale Friday when she got to the mall with her sister-in-law at 6:30 a.m. because of the earlier openings.
Despite those apparent shortages, she said she still refuses to come the day before as that's the time for family. She spent about the same this year as other years.
Kelly Roush, 46, of New Berlin, said she won't go out on Thanksgiving, but goes the following day with her family. Even on Black Friday, it's not about the sales for her.
"I don't go out for any bargains," she said, "it's a tradition for my mom and I to shop on Black Friday, and be together."
She secured the iPad she hoped for.
She's telling her husband she spent "less," but really, "probably a little more," she said with a grin.
Cousins Sarah Ryan, 28, of Bloomsburg, and Wendy Wagner, 35, of Millville, started the day around 4:30 a.m. with their families, looking for items for the kids and tools, spending about the same as last year.
For over 20 years, Ryan went with her stepfather, calling it "our day." They'd go to Denny's for breakfast first, then go shopping for her mom.
They too said they'd rather spend Thanksgiving with family than shopping.
Chris Lachat, 42, of Lock Haven, said many items were sold out by the time he got there Friday, and the stores weren't as crowded. He spent the same as last year.
Moving sales earlier to Thanksgiving he said "makes me choose if I want to spend all day with my family or shop."
Dave and Kathy Grenoble, both 58, of Watsontown, have gone together for the last 20 years - but not to shop. For them, it's all about people watching, and they said this year seemed busier. The young folks with the dyed purple, red and assorted-color hair fascinate him. And Kathy? "She's here to watch me!" Dave said, grinning.
Bill Kerstetter, 69, of Snydertown, sat on a bench while his wife Sandy shopped. Married for 46 years, they've gone Black Friday shopping every year.
They came at 9 a.m., and he came for "moral support."
But they won't go Black Thursday shopping. "Next thing you know, they'll be open all day," he said.
Sitting next to him was Bucky Robbins, 79, of Hillsgrove.
As he and his wife, Naomi, have come to the mall every Friday for more than 25 years, he called that bench outside Burlington Coat Factory his own.
"I own this bench," he said. A grin spread across his face. "Sometimes I have to wait for the old people to get off of it."
He didn't mind the crowd that day, as his wife does the shopping. But he did buy some bird seed to feed his little winged fellows on these ever-colder days.