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Shoppers strategize for Black Friday specials

Teamwork and timing can make Black Friday a productive shopping experience.

"I've been Black Friday shopping for 15 years," said Donna Waddell, 63, of Charleston. "I have three daughters, three sons and 16 grandchildren. That's why I Black Friday shop."

Bagging bargains helps stretch a shopping budget, she said.

Black Friday is that longtime tradition of heading out after Thanksgiving to take advantage of specials and buy Christmas gifts at low prices. The trick is to get there before the sought-after bargain is sold out.   

With one of the biggest shopping days of the year at hand, experienced shoppers have mapped their strategies.

"I get together with my daughters," Waddell said. "I look at fliers and online. We make lists and each person hits a different area. In years past we'd start at 4 (a.m.). Now it's probably midnight."

The experience has paid off in the past with deals such as shirts for $1 or a play kitchen for $50, she said.

Waddell was recently at Charleston Town Center, where she and others were happy to share ideas for Black Friday shopping.

Rollan Roberts, who lives at Beaver near Beckley, said he serves as the driver while his wife, Debbie, does the shopping.

"I drive and drop her off," said Roberts, who added they stay in touch by cellphone. "We'll be in Gatlinburg a couple of days over Thanksgiving. We'll take in the family outlets."

Sandi Bradley of Ridgeley said she does her homework by checking out newspaper advertisements and looking online to see which stores have what on sale.

"If I see anything I'm looking for, I make that my highest priority and that is where I head first," she said. "My best bargain was last year. I needed a washer."

Lowe's was having a half-price sale on some models with doors opening at 4 a.m. Bradley was in line by 3 a.m. When she got to the washers, they were sold out. However, she was offered a more expensive one for half price and a dryer as well. She decided to buy both.

"I saved $1,000," she said.

With six grandchildren, she seeks different bargains each holiday season.

Roger and Merily Cline of Sistersville are pros.

"We go crazy," said Roger, 66. "She likes to get there early and get the good deals. We have seven grandchildren. She waits in line. I do all the carrying and take the truck so we can get everything in there."

Store clerks are also anticipating the big shopping day.

One clerk who declined to give her name, said, "It's crazy. It's really busy. They're waiting when we open the doors at midnight. They strategize to get the big specials first. They probably have friends who wait in line."

Chuck Taylor, a manager for Kid Country Toys at Town Center, said two locations will be open on level one of the mall with different specials offered at each site. He noted mall stores will open at midnight on Black Friday.

"I'll work the midnight shift and then proceed out myself," said Taylor, who likes Black Friday shopping.

In past years, he has found bargain prices on everything from televisions to clothing.

His advice to shoppers seeking good deals at the mall? "Get here early."

Meanwhile, at Toys R Us at Southridge, shoppers were checking out some recent specials.

Kerry Frame, 33, of Pinch, has done some Black Friday shopping in previous years but prefers to shop a little at a time as items are advertised on sale for her daughters, who are 7 and 5.

"It's targeted," she said. "Tonight it's Toys R Us. Another time it might be the mall."

Sheila Hall, 55, of Charleston, has perfected her Black Friday shopping strategy.

"I know exactly what I want and I make a list," she said. "I know which store has what on sale and what time they open. I go in order. I have a pattern."

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at or 304-348-1246.


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