BY MICHAEL WALTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Black Friday is out in favor of Thanksgiving Day shopping for many local retailers who hope to get a jump on customers' green.
Doors open Thursday at 8 p.m. at Toys R Us, Walmart, Sears and Kmart in the Traverse City area. Target opens at 9 p.m., while Kohl's, Macy's and Best Buy follow suit at midnight.
Other stores plan to start sales early Friday morning, including MC Sports at 5 a.m. and JCPenney and Meijer an hour later.
"We keep closed (on Thanksgiving) to let our employees be with their families," MC Sports store Manager Scott Muckerheide said.
Celine Porcelli, a Walmart store manager, said employees at her store understand why Black Friday deals start earlier this year.
"It's just the way the industry is going," she said. "Everybody is trying to get a jump on it."
Gander Mountain Manager Mike Ebach agreed. His store will be open on Thanksgiving from 9 a.m. until midnight, then reopen Friday at 6 a.m. Gander Mountain employees worked similar shifts the past several years.
"I don't think anybody is excited about it, but it's part of retail," Ebach said. "That's the time of year things are selling."
Retailers expect, on average, to see triple the amount of sales over that stretch, compared to a normal day in the holiday shopping season, Ebach said.
Jason Szegda, a Gander Mountain employee, is scheduled to work Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Szegda said he doesn't mind the shift since he gets a half-day off on Thursday.
"It doesn't bother me. I still get to spend time with my family," Szegda said. "It's actually kind of fun. It's interesting watching everybody come in in the mad rush."
Shoppers expressed mixed feelings about retailers' rush to embark on the holiday sales season.
Ashley Gebhard, a teller at Northwestern Bank, said she doesn't want to lose out on great deals, but for her, Black Friday was a beloved tradition.
"To me, the whole fun of Black Friday is getting up early and having that experience," Gebhard said.
Sharon Alguire, of Suttons Bay, said she'd almost rather pay more for gifts to avoid Black Friday crowds. And she's not keen on the Thanksgiving sales trend.
"It's all so overdone and escalating out of control," she said.
But Alguire likely will end up shopping this weekend with her sisters, whom she described as "superfans of Black Friday."
Alguire expects her sisters to hit the stores as early as possible Thursday.
"I can almost bet my life on it," she said.