Holiday shopping in Kingman off to a brisk start

Buyers come out early for bargains - and there are plenty to be had

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Crowds of Kingmanites went shopping on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Here, Kristy Hobbs (right) stands in line at JC Penney holding her daughter Stephanie. Her other daughter Lorraine stands to the left.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Crowds of Kingmanites went shopping on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Here, Kristy Hobbs (right) stands in line at JC Penney holding her daughter Stephanie. Her other daughter Lorraine stands to the left.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

KINGMAN - As the clock struck 10 p.m. Thursday, Walmart shoppers kicked off Black Friday mayhem by ripping plastic wrap off of pallets laden with sale items.

Hundreds of people flooded the aisles where all the hot deals had been stashed. For anyone who has been to an NFL game, the feeling of walking through Walmart hoping to get one of the last pairs of $7 girls jeans or an elusive $2 waffle maker was eerily similar to making the halftime dash to the hotdogs, the beer and the bathroom.

Walmart's electronics didn't go on sale until midnight, so the store maintained its congestion levels into the wee hours of Friday morning. In Kingman, and throughout the country, people showed up to stores to shop big.

According to the Washington Post, over Thanksgiving weekend shoppers all over the country spent an average $398.62 on retail goods - an increase from 2010 of more than $30 per person. Overall, Americans spent a combined $52.4 billion while shopping in stores and online, as 226 million people were out shopping over the weekend. By comparison, 212 million people went retail shopping during 2010's Thanksgiving weekend, according to the Washington Post.

Several instances of violence, however, marred the record-breaking spending.

A riot broke out over Walmart's $2 waffle makers in Arkansas, a woman pepper-sprayed a group of 20 Walmart shoppers as she vied for a discounted Xbox 360 in Los Angeles, and two people were robbed and shot in two separate cities as they left Walmart on Black Friday.

Outside of some shoplifting, Kingman Police Department Capt. Rusty Cooper said no out-of-the-ordinary incidents occurred.

Kingman stores avoided the violence bug, and if you were willing to stand in line, walk through aisles at a snail's pace and either stay up late or get up early, then you definitely scored some good deals.

Open early

Jennifer Johnston, the store manager for the local JC Penney, said her store met its sales goal, which was based on 2010 numbers. The store was set to open at 4 a.m. Friday, but the length of the line out front prompted Johnston to open the doors about 30 minutes early.

"It went just as smooth if not smoother than last year," Johnston said. "We did our jobs and met our goal."

Johnston, who has been in retail for 15 years, said the commotion caused by Black Friday sales and crowds has gotten noticeably worse over the years. With violence and unruly behavior becoming synonymous with the day, Johnston said she's thankful her store hasn't had to deal with any such incidents.

"It gets crazier every year," she said.

She said that some of the best-selling items were crock-pots, griddles, coffee pots and waffle makers - all had been marked down to under $10.

Johnston recently hired six seasonal employees, with varying hours, who will work for the local JC Penney for about two months.

Employees were fed by the store on Black Friday and will continue to find eats at work over the next month, as employees are happier when they're well fed, Johnston said.

Although there were Black Friday sales at Big Lots, Hastings and Walmart, among others, local managers were not given permission from corporate offices to speak with media.

A Walmart spokesperson did say this: "Walmart will not provide details regarding in-store sales or traffic for Thanksgiving or Black Friday, so we will not be able to accommodate your request at this time."