Friday | August 28, 2015
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Drizzle and deals: Rain doesn’t deter Black Friday shoppers

A little bit of rain, at times even a lot of rain, didn’t deter West Hawaii bargain shoppers from turning out in droves Thursday night and Friday morning.

Sitting at the front of the line for Target, Debbi Mahilum and Seanna Mahilum, both of Kona, said they sat through three rain showers, one fairly heavy, while waiting for the retailer to open at 9 p.m. Thursday.

“We have a mission this year,” Debbi Mahilum said.

The women’s goals included getting a TV and a laptop, as well as some of the “consolation prizes,” items including Blu-ray players and toys for Christmas gifts.

How did they spend the five hours between arriving to snag the first positions in line and the store opening?

“I’ve been shopping on Amazon,” Seanna Mahilum said, laughing. The online retailer was offering lightning deals, short-lived sales with limited quantities. “I just keep refreshing.”

Big box retailers’ decisions to open Thursday evening worked out well for Sports Authority, which opened at midnight Friday, store manager Alvin Tayo said. The sporting goods store had about 400 people in line when the doors opened, and the line to checkout wrapped from the checkout lanes up front, straight to the back wall, then back around almost to the front again, along several aisles.

“It was pretty intense,” Tayo said. ‘The first two hours were really busy.”

Business slowed down for a few hours, then was picking up again Friday morning as shoppers woke up and resumed their bargain hunts.

Big sellers for the store included firearms and anything hunting related, he added.

Target saw about four hours of pretty steady business, followed by a bit of a lull, team leader Roger Thomas said.

Based on Thursday night and Friday morning sales, “it looked like (this holiday season) is going to be absolutely awesome,” he said.

OfficeMax District Manager Cynthia Latish agreed.

“We had some great success,” Honolulu-based Latish said. “We’re definitely up significantly over last year.”

The Kona Commons store had about 65 people in line, and the doorbuster deals, including Visa gift cards, Toshiba laptops, tablets and flash drives, sold out quickly, she added.

Luis Alves queued up outside Kmart before it opened at 10 p.m. He said he didn’t know what the store had discounted Thursday evening, but he wanted to check it out.

“I got pretty much everything I wanted from Target,” the Kona resident said.

He was also waiting for Macy’s to open at midnight, so he could look for some clothes at that store.

Just before 10 a.m., Kmart store manager Robert O’Meara gave the signal for employees to open the doors, and hundreds of customers pushed their shopping carts inside.

“It’s quite a frenzy that gets going,” O’Meara said. “It’s fun.”

Inside the store, shoppers perused the aisles, congregating in the toy section and overflowing the electronics area. Pillows seemed to be a hot item, too.

About 20 minutes before Target opened, Kona resident Jarae Simpliciano reviewed the store’s advertising flier, double-checking the items he would be trying to buy. He said he goes shopping every Black Friday.

“Kind of looking for gifts for the family,” Simpliciano said, adding those gifts might include iPods and Xbox accessories. “Things kids would like.”

The shopping trip is a family tradition, he said. He goes for “the rush,” trying to get to everything before everyone else does.”

Simpliciano said he doesn’t have a problem with shopping beginning Thursday night, but the sale might need a new name.

“Maybe Blue Thursday,” he said.