This year more than ever, the start time for Lodi’s official holiday shopping season is split.
Big-box retailers on Kettleman Lane are starting major sales and promotions today.
But nearly all smaller merchants, including those in Downtown, are closed today — but ready to rock on Friday and Saturday.
Joni Green, owner of City Girl at 14 W. Pine St., said she opened at 7 a.m. on Black Friday for a couple years, but generally only had one burst of shoppers early in the morning. Shoppers flowed in normally for the rest of the day.
“Last year I opened at my regular time, and had a lot of people come through,” she said. “So this year I’m opening at my regular hours as well. The crowds just kind of come through the whole day.”
Like many merchants, Green will offer special deals for Black Friday, including a storewide percentage sale and a separate, bigger sale on denim. City Girl will be open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
Nicole Garcia, a sales associate at Fashion Safari, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, said the store has attracted as many as 500 shoppers on Black Friday.
Garcia said shoppers will receive a free gift with purchases of $25 or more, or a $5 gift card with purchases of $50 or more.
“We always have a really good turnout,” she said. “We have a lot of specials going on that day, from free gifts, hourly drawings and gift cards. We are packed all day.”
Other shops, like Burton’s Shoes at 226 S. School St., do not typically see an influx of shoppers like other merchants will on Friday.
“Our shopping crowd usually is consistent through November and December,” sales associate Pam Kranich said. “People always need shoes, and the holidays are usually big for Uggs or slippers. We still get business on Black Friday, but it’s not the huge business other stores might get.
Al Nunes, owner of Thornton House at 6 S. School St., shared that sentiment. He said the majority of the work for his furniture store involves delivery.
While he still sees some Black Friday traffic, only a handful of customers will walk out of Thornton House with their perfect dining set or queen-size bed.
“Black Friday has always really been for ready-to-wear, electronics or unique gifts,” he said. “When people come in here, they’re looking for a recliner or something to spruce up their home, and they’ll have it delivered in time for Christmas.”
Thornton House will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.
Big-box stores like Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, meanwhile, will begin welcoming shoppers today.
Walmart announced its Black Friday plans on Nov. 12, including a special called the “One-Hour Guarantee.”
Customers who are in the designated lines at Walmart, located at 2350 W. Kettleman Lane, between 6 and 7 p.m. or 8 and 9 p.m. tonight can purchase gifts at special low prices and are guaranteed they’ll receive the item either that night or, if the item is out of stock, in time for Christmas.
Gifts include laptop computers, televisions and a variety of video games, among others.
Walmart will also offer deals on items such as sheets, stuffed animals and a variety of electronics both Thursday evening and all day Friday.
Prior to the 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. events, customers will need to go to a designated line to secure a wristband for certain products. Wristbands will be distributed while supplies last.
Customers can shop for other gifts throughout the store while they wait for the 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. sales to begin. Those with wristbands will need to go back to their designated lines within two hours after the event start time to pick up a product.
Walmart will begin its sales tonight at 6 p.m., according to its website, then open its doors once more at 8 a.m. Friday.
Shoppers earlier this week had mixed feelings about the biggest shopping day of the year.
Lorrie Figueroa said she has been up as early as 4 a.m. some years to wait outside retailers such as Walmart with her daughter and grandchildren to get deals on a variety of merchandise.
“(My daughter and grandkids) really enjoy Black Friday,” she said. “There is a lot of stuff they’ve gotten great deals on, like laptops and TVs.”
She said this year the family will be going to the pre-Black Friday sales tonight.
Figueroa admitted Thursday evening and Black Friday can be “beyond crazy,” but the family is usually home by 10 a.m. to recover from the madness.
Aly Williams, however, said she tries to avoid the Black Friday madness.
“I just don’t think shopping is that much of a priority for us, either seasonally or in general,” she said. “We’re probably just going to stay home and be together as a family for the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Katie Weber has been out on Black Friday only once, and said she might go out this year. If she does, it won’t be until later in the day when the pandemonium has died down.
“We are definitely going to get up first thing in the morning and go,” she said. “And to be honest, for the specials you get, (Black Friday) is not enough to take away my sleep.”