Retailers prepare early for holiday shopping rush
West Hawaii’s retailers are gearing up for Black Friday shoppers — and opening their doors even earlier than before.
Walmart will be open all day Thursday, with special deals at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Friday. Target follows an hour later Thursday, opening doors at 9 p.m. Kmart is open most of the day on Thursday, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., then again at 10 p.m. with special items on sale.
Even specialized retailers are getting in on the early shopping action. Sports Authority is moving its opening from the early morning hours on Friday to midnight.
Ookala resident Christy Domingo, shopping for Christmas decorations at Target Monday afternoon was excited about the changes.
“It’s great,” Domingo said. “I think it’s awesome, actually.”
Domingo did her Black Friday shopping — she likes looking for electronics in particular — in Hilo. Walmart was crazy, she said. Hilo’s Target, which just opened in 2011, was better.
“I was so amazed at how good it was,” she said, adding the store was well organized.
Not everyone is on board with the earlier shopping hours.
“I think it’s terrible,” Hilo resident Kerri Marks told West Hawaii Today Monday. “It’s bad. People are going to ditch their families” to fight over sale items.
She said she’s heard for a national call for people to not do any shopping on Friday.
“I’m down on the shopping,” Marks said.
OfficeMax won’t be opening until 6 a.m. Friday, but the company’s district manager for Alaska and Hawaii, Cynthia Latish, said the store benefits from other stores’ decisions to open Thursday night and even earlier Friday morning.
“We tend to see a lot of people come after the midnight deals, because the big boxes only have a few items and they run out,” Latish said.
She expects to see customers waiting at 6 a.m. when OfficeMax stores around the state open.
“We saw that last year,” Latish said.
OfficeMax, like so many other national retailers, is offering deep discounts and doorbuster deals. Promotional materials are touting the company’s “Three Days of Black Friday” deals, which run Thursday through Saturday. Latish said the stores will also have Friday only sales.
Other store managers said Monday they’re expecting good turnout at the end of the week, too.
Alvin Tayo, at Sports Authority, said he’s excited about moving the store’s opening up to midnight.
“It’s actually better as far as safety,” he said. “It puts us in a good situation.”
With Kona’s largest retailers opening several hours before midnight, shoppers should be ready to come to Sports Authority by the time it opens, Tayo said.
As always, he’s expecting items like balls — all of which will be half price — and the buy one, get one free shoe deals to be big hits.
Kmart store manager Robert O’Meara said electronics are always the top item he sees customers asking about in the days leading up to the post-Thanksgiving sales.
“We’re expecting a very good crowd,” he added.
Target team leader Roger Thomas is also anticipating electronics being a top seller. His store already has an iPad display set up and ready and he has heard many questions about that item and iPods.
Customers are also asking about toys, he said.
“You’ve gotta take care of the kids,” he said. “Just gauging on some of the questions, we’re expecting to have a great holiday season.”
Target has had some of its seasonal items for Thanksgiving and Christmas on display since Halloween, Thomas said.
“It gets you started thinking about the next month and a half,” he added.
A Walmart employee referred media inquiries to the company’s corporate offices.