Rifles, guinea pigs and socks -- it's Black Friday

Tegan Hanlon,Benjamin S. Brasch
A crescent moon greets morning shoppers on Black Friday, November 29, 2013, in south Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Jackie Dooley examines a scarf as items are marked down for Black Friday sales at Apricot Lane Boutique on Friday, November 29, 2013, at Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall.
Erik Hill
Devin Metshin of JBER, center, is assisted by Ellen Grace Carias while shopping for bracelets at Michael Kors on Friday, November 29, 2013, at Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall.
Erik Hill
Shoppers pass between the Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall and the adjacent parking garage on Black Friday, November 29, 2013, downtown.
Erik Hill
Molly Bailey holds one of the guinea pigs offered at half price as a Black Friday special at PetSmart on Friday, November 29, 2013, in south Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Logan Edwards of Anchorage checks out a DPMS Recon .223Rem rifle on sale on Black Friday, November 29, 2013, at Sportsman's Warehouse in south Anchorage. Hundreds of customers lined up early outside the store for a 6 a.m. opening.
Erik Hill
Store owner Ann Marrie Valdez runs a register at her Apricot Lane Boutique on Friday, November 29, 2013, in Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall. "It's been really busy!," she said. "It's been really good today."
Erik Hill
Patrice Isaac checks out earrings at Apricot Lane Boutique on Black Friday, November 29, 2013, at Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall.
Erik Hill
Justin Martin of Anchorage checks out a Bushmaster 223 Remington/5.56 Nato rifle on sale at Sportsman's Warehouse on Black Friday morning, November 29, 2013, in south Anchorage.
Erik Hill
Socks were a big draw at the Fred Meyer store during the Black Friday shopping scene, November 29, 2013.
Tegan Hanlon
Donna Celia checks out sock specials with son Dean, 1, at Sportsman's Warehouse on Black Friday morning, November 29, 2013, in south Anchorage.
Erik Hill

It's almost like the term "Black Friday" doesn't make sense anymore. At least not in Anchorage this year.

The notorious crowds on the megashopping marathon started Thanksgiving Day at some stores. At others, lines sprang up as early as Wednesday afternoon. So by early Friday morning, on actual Black Friday, many big chain stores like Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us had only scraps after shoppers rushed the doors Thursday evening.

Candy Hamilton, 30, and Tonya Sell, 27, who live on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, were part of that day-early sprint, but they kept running on fumes through the night and into Friday morning.

"That cut into our family time," Sell said about their shopping trip that began at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. "But money is tight nowadays so we've got to catch the deals where we can."

Both Hamilton and Sell have two children at home and husbands in the Army. Their Christmas lists were long and kids' pining for the Disney Infinity video game strong. That's one of the things they were buying at the toy store around 5 a.m.

The duo had planned their shopping venture for a week. They clipped coupons, capitalized on price matching and took advantage of pre-Black Friday deals offered at some stores -- all to save a little cash.

"You do what you can where you can," Sell said.

Shoppers' tales of Black Friday planning, and lack of planning, were as varied as the items up for purchase. Some shopped for necessity, others for tradition and some just because.

"Well we didn't have anything better to do," said Troy Bowens, a University of Alaska Anchorage student.

Bowens camped out at Sports Authority at Tikahtnu Commons for two hours Friday morning in subzero temperatures with five longtime friends.

Their setup included foldable chairs, hot chocolate, blankets, a portable heater and Red Bull.

Bowens said he wasn't looking for anything specific. He hadn't even looked at the store's deals. Bowens was in it for a shot to win a $500 store gift card awarded to one of the first eight in line.

Then there was Matt Lacher, an Army veteran, who meandered next door at Target just before 5 a.m.

His story was different. He said he needed a nontypical Black Friday.

Lacher has post-traumatic stress disorder and doesn't like to be around large groups of people, he said. So he hasn't been to Black Friday in years, he said.

But Target's 8 p.m. opening on Thursday afforded him the stress-free opportunity to shop for pet food for his blue Weimaraner, Gertrude "Girdee" Anne. He said he went early Friday morning thinking he would be between the throngs of people on Thursday and later in the day.

Across town in South Anchorage, some places still had the classic early morning crowd.

Russell Parker, 46, arrived at Sportsman's Warehouse around its 6 a.m. opening after he saw an ad for $150 off a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle.

By the time shoppers were allowed in the store, the snaking line had more than 100 people in it, he said.

Parker then waited an hour at the firearm counter to fill out the legal paperwork. He said some people in front of him were buying two or three of the rifles, marked down to $579.99.

"I'm the type of person that avoids Black Friday like the plague," Parker said. "With this, it's such a good deal."

And of course, there was the traditional Black Friday sock sale at Fred Meyer from 5 a.m. to noon, with many people crowding around boxes of socks lining an indoor walkway.

Sara Robison, 48, has attended the sale, in which all socks are 50 percent off, for more than a decade. She had about 10 pairs of socks, many adorned with cats, in her cart late Friday morning.

"I'm trying to stay under control this year," Robison said. "I usually buy too many, but I have to cut back."


Anchorage Daily News