ALPHARETTA, Georgia — Many Black Friday shoppers say they avoided spending money on Thanksgiving Day because, they say, the holiday should be a time for family.
At North Point Mall in Alpharetta, Black Friday shoppers say they encountered lighter crowds than in past years. Stacie Oden of Roswell said she showed up at the Alpharetta mall — among the largest in Atlanta's northern suburbs — at 4 a.m. Friday.
"We came at a great time," Oden said. "The mall was basically ours."
Several shoppers said they believe the mall was a bit emptier Friday than in past years because more and more people are heading out to stores on Thanksgiving.
Best Buy stores in Georgia and elsewhere opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving for an early start on Black Friday sales. Others, such as Target, Macy's and Kohl's, opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
In Columbus, David Rice and his son, Avery, missed Thanksgiving dinner with their family to wait in line at a Best Buy on Thursday to get two 50-inch Panasonic televisions for $199.99 apiece.
"It's been a lot of fun. We've just been making some memories," David Rice said of the 33 hours they waited to be first in line. "The rest of my family was sitting around talking about it at the Thanksgiving table today and just laughing and saying how goofy it is. And we hadn't ever done anything like this, and probably won't ever do it again. But it was fun."
Some shoppers began camping out even before Thanksgiving. In Dunwoody, police posted a photo on the department's Facebook page of a tent set up outside a strip mall on Wednesday afternoon.
For some out shopping on Thanksgiving Day, the early Black Friday start was more convenient.
"We planned on going shopping anyways. Now we get to sleep tonight, instead of getting up at midnight and coming out. So it's not a bad idea," Rick Roberts told WSB-TV at Lenox Square mall in Atlanta Thursday.
By 9 a.m. Friday at North Point Mall, there were plenty of parking spaces on the outer edges of the lots, though it was tough to find one in the first few rows near the main entrances. Despite a minor traffic jam outside the American Girl store, shoppers said the parking lots were easier to navigate than in previous years.
"The parking lot wasn't as nutty as it usually is," said Derek Hartrampf, who drove to the mall from Canton. He said he thinks stores opening on Thanksgiving now make the Black Friday experience "a little less crazy than normal."
He and others out Friday said Thanksgiving shouldn't be about shopping. Among them was Carol Nanna of Suwanee, who was taking a break Friday morning outside the North Point Macy's, where she found some of her best deals.
"Black Friday means Black Friday," she said. "It shouldn't be on Thursday. That's your family time."
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