J.C. Penney

Shoppers wait in line in front of J.C. Penney on Thursday.

Thanksgiving has long been known as a day for food and family gatherings, but now it also provides a chance to get an early start on Christmas shopping.

Friends and family showed up at Greenwood’s big-box stores to take advantage of early Black Friday shopping deals.

“I just love coming out,” said Doris Coats while waiting in line  to enter J.C. Penney.

About 100 eager shoppers lined up outside the department store, waiting for it to open at 2 p.m. and hoping to win one of three coupons at random — one for $500, one for $100 and one for $10.

Regardless of whether she ended up winning the big coupon, Coats said she planned to buy some clothes and towels for her relatives.

William Blake, a Greenwood police officer who provided crowd control for the line in front of J.C. Penney, only allowed 40 shoppers inside at a time, for safety reasons.

At Walmart, where shoppers clamored to score deals for  numerous items such as electronics, the scene was relatively calm around 6 p.m., as one experienced Black Friday shopper noticed.

“It’s not as crowded as it should be,” said Southaven resident Tilya Day. “It’s not as crowded as it was years back.”

Day said that for the past few years she’s visited family in Greenwood for Thanksgiving and would then go shopping at Walmart. One year, according to Day, the Black Friday shopping crowd at Walmart was so packed that some shoppers couldn’t even enter the store.

In years past, Black Friday shopping incidents, such as fights or jam-packed stores, have been featured in the news.

The increase in online shopping, as well as stores extending their Black Friday hours, eased the Black Friday shopping experience, Day said.

“I think it’s better, and I think you get a little bit more of a discount online,” Day said, adding that another benefit of online shopping is delivery straight to your residence.

Liz Weathers, a clerk at Walmart, was serving free coffee and hot chocolate to shoppers. Like Day, Weathers said the shopping scene used to be more frenzied.

Walmart

Liz Weathers, an employee at Walmart, serves hot chocolate and coffee to shoppers Thursday.

“It’s been good. It’s been calm,” she said.

Kiara Booker and Ladybug Johnson were having their first experience with Black Friday shopping.

Walmart

Kiara Booker, left, and Ladybug Johnson enjoy their first Black Friday shopping experience.

“I hope my experience will be a good one,” Booker said. “It’s not chaotic right now, but of course it may get chaotic.”

She said that she hoped to buy toys for her son, as well as a TV and an iPad.

For Johnson, the scene at Walmart was “a little bit crowded for me because I’m not a people person.” Still, she said she showed up to find good deals on electronics, such as the Apple Watch.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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