WATERLOO — The lines of years past, snaking around big-box stores and out the doors of Crossroads Center, weren’t happening the Friday morning after Thanksgiving.

Only about a dozen customers were lined up outside Gordmans at 6 a.m. in Waterloo when manager April Bearbower opened the doors Friday.

That, she said, was because people who wanted the best chance at deals — like a 55-inch television for $90 or a Realtree ride-on for kids for $40 off — showed up the day before.

“We had an even longer line (on Thursday) this year than last year,” Bearbower said. “People get done eating their Thanksgiving dinner, and they’re ready to go shopping.”

It’s the second year Gordmans has been open on Thanksgiving beginning at 3 p.m., Bearbower said, and her store sold out of doorbusters like Google iHome devices and weighted blankets in the first half-hour. Bearbower said her employees enjoy the pace of working on the holiday.

“They love the excitement and craziness. We all have fun,” she said.

Joan Getz of La Porte City was one of the first in line Friday morning and won a $100 Gordmans gift card in a scratch-off promotion for her efforts.

“It pays to get up early,” she said.

Scoring free stuff — as well as the tradition of shopping with family on Black Friday — brings her out every year. But she’s starting a new tradition as well.

“We came yesterday, too,” Getz said.

The number of shoppers nationally who indicated they planned to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally known as Black Friday, is still a much higher number than those saying they’d shop Thanksgiving Day — 114.6 million on Black Friday and 39.6 million on Thanksgiving, according to the National Retail Federation. But Black Friday shopping was down about 2 million from last year, while those shopping on Thanksgiving was up by nearly 4 million.

“We expect the biggest increase in potential shoppers for Thanksgiving Day this year,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy at Prosper Insights, which releases an annual shopping survey with the National Retail Federation.

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One reason is the number of retailers now open on Thanksgiving. Gordmans joined competitors like Target, Best Buy and Kohl’s, which opened at 5 p.m. Thursday, and Walmart, which began selling Black Friday deals at 6 p.m. Thursday.

There were some holdouts. Menards noted in a release it would “once again continue our longstanding tradition of staying closed on Thanksgiving Day,” opening at 6 a.m. Friday instead. Shoe Carnival Waterloo general manager Jamie Hugill said the same was true of her company.

“They’re pretty big on keeping that day for family,” Hugill said.

That meant Shoe Carnival had one of the rare-for-2019 lines around the store and a full parking lot before it opened at 6 a.m. Friday, with shoppers packing in for $20 boots and athletic shoes as well as a chance at a $100 gift card or a free pair of shoes.

Shoe Carnival’s decision helped make it easier to score bargains on both days for Waterloo couple Danny and Lela Lewis.

“We started at Walmart last night for toys and electronics. Today is more ‘fashion Friday,’” said Danny Lewis.

The couple were among the first shoppers in Shoe Carnival and made quick work of it, their arms full of shoe boxes awaiting checkout 15 minutes later. They said getting the best deals on Christmas gifts for their children was their motivator.

“It’s the ability to save as much money as we can for the five kids,” Lewis said.

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Staff Writer

Staff writer at The Courier 2005 (college intern), 2007-2012, 2015-present. Graduate of UNI 2006. Three-time Iowa APME award winner (investigative reporting 2008, lifestyle feature 2016, business feature 2018)

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