BY GLENN PUIT
TRAVERSE CITY —
The smile on Melinda Gall’s face said it all.
Gall, of Midland, was in Best Buy shortly after midnight Friday with her four children, Alex and Chloe Gall and Greg and Nick Long. The kids convinced Gall to try out the latest high-tech headphones, and, when she did, the huge smile along with lots of laughter broke out, making clear this Black Friday adventure wasn’t about commercialism.
It was about family time.
“Basically I’m looking for sales for the kids,” Gall said, circled by her kids. “Let them do some shopping. They are old enough now so if they want something, we’ll normally buy it. It’s still Christmas rules though. They have to wait until Christmas Day to (open the present they picked out.) It makes it hard on them, easy on me.”
Thousands flocked to Traverse City retail outlets as the clock struck midnight on Black Friday, navigating their way from store after store on slippery, snowy roadways and bundled up in downright chilly temperatures that descended to 13 degrees by 5 a.m. Some shoppers looked as if they were stalking prey. Others simply enjoyed time with their loved ones, all under the guise of finding the next big bargain.
“Sleepwalking,” said Jenny Sedlacek as she sluggishly browsed for-sale items at Kohl's. “Not too bad though. Just tired. We’ve been shopping since 6:30 p.m. and we have to keep shopping til 5 a.m.”
Sedlacek and McKenna Musser looked a little tired but managed smiles as Sedlacek rattled off the stores visited prior to Kohl’s: Toys R Us, Alta, Target, the Grand Traverse Mall, Michael’s, Gander Mountain, and Macy’s. Surviving such a grueling session is simple, said Sedlacek.
Brooke DeFrance headed out to the stores at about 11:30 p.m., eventually making her way to J.C. Penney's. She said she shunned the earlier store openings on Thanksgiving Day.
"I don’t believe in it," DeFrance said. "I think everybody deserves to be with their family on Thanksgiving."
Erich and Theresa Wangeman were on the hunt for a small flat-screen. They said they shop every year on Black Friday. The key to their success is not planning it out ahead of time.
"No agenda -- seriously," Erich Wangeman said. "When you have an agenda to beat the lines and beat the people it's no fun. It sucks all the joy out of it. If you come see what you can find and enjoy and relax and walk around, find a deal here or there, then you have a good time."
Neil Ferguson used a Black Friday shopping trip to also spend quality time with his son, Nathan Underwood.
“This is our family time -- out shopping together,” Ferguson said. “We were looking through the sales for tomorrow and we saw they had midnight doorbuster sales, so we are staying up all night and are going to hit the 4 a.m. openings to get some great deals.”