FORT WALTON BEACH — While most people across the Panhandle were just sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinners, others were in lines at local stores waiting to feast on sale items and low prices.
At Kohl’s on Beal Parkway, the line snaked around the exterior of the store and into the parking lot ahead of the doors opening at 5 p.m. Shoppers were hungry for doorbuster sales, ranging from $4.99 Toastmaster electronics to $399.99 smart TVs.
Ezekiel Oswald was sixth in line. He said it was his first time shopping on Black Friday, and he planned to get an Xbox gaming console for himself and some jewelry for his girlfriend.
“Of course I’m going to spend a lot of money,” he said. “I’ll probably spend about $400 here and get about $90 in Kohl’s cash.”
Kelcie Hathcock was a little bit farther back in line. She said she only drove to Kohl’s because her sister, Kiera, wanted to do some shopping.
“I’d rather be taking a nap,” Hatchcock said. “I’m going to get a knife set for my boyfriend’s mom, and then I’m going to go to a movie and then go to sleep.”
Lesley Ramos said her family usually eat their Thanksgiving meal about 8 p.m., so she was going to get her shopping in beforehand.
She did have one minor concern about the shopping rush, though.
“I just hope nobody hits me or takes something away from me,” she said.
When the doors opened, there was a mad rush to get inside. Employees dressed in festive Christmas sweaters clapped in sync as shoppers made their way down the first set of aisles.
Shannon Emerson, the store’s manager, stood to the side and counted as each person walked past. She gave up at 400 people.
“This is my favorite time of the year,” Emerson said. “This is what we’ve worked for all year. My team has moved millions of dollars in merchandise in the past few days. If you look at any of my associates, they’re super happy to be here. They all volunteered to work this shift because they know how exciting it is.”
The store will remain open until midnight Friday.
Cheyenne Godwin and her boyfriend Aaron Ptaschek were among those who showed up to get their shopping done early. Ptaschek wasn’t so sure about the Black Friday madness.
“Thanksgiving is time that you’re supposed to spend with your family,” he said.
Godwin had a different perspective.
“I honestly don’t mind it,” she said. “I don’t necessarily think it’s a great thing that it’s on Thanksgiving, but it’s worth all the money you end up saving.”
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