By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. Thanksgiving evening many birds likely will be waiting outside some of the larger area retail stores hunting for deals.
Many stores have been opening their doors earlier each year in anticipation of Black Friday sales. While it had been customary to wait in long lines until stores allow people to flood in at midnight, many are choosing to instead open on Thanksgiving Day.
Cindy Christians, manager of The Orchards Mall in Benton Township, said the mall be closed with the exception of the mall’s anchor stores.
“Carson’s, J.C. Penney and Sears Hometown Store will be open on Thanksgiving,” Christians said. “It will be through their outside entrance because the mall will be closed. The mall was not closed last year, but the prior year it was. Last year, we tried it but there was not much traffic on the inside because not everybody was open.”
The mall will open at 6 a.m. on Friday, rather than its normal time of 10 a.m. The mall will then close at its normal time on Friday at 9 p.m.
The Best Buy in Benton Township posted its hours on its website at the beginning of the week in advance for holiday shoppers.
Thanksgiving shoppers can access the electronic retailer today from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are required for in-store Black Friday doorbuster shopping and will be handed out when people begin to line up today.
According to the store’s manager, ticketing helps ensure the safety of Best Buy customers and employees when the store opens its doors.
A ticket will grant customers the ability to buy an item for a limited time for the doorbuster sale. The tickets will be handed out in a two-hour time frame on a first-come, first-served basis before Best Buy opens at 5 p.m.
While stores like Meijer and Walmart are open 24 hours a day, Black Friday sales don’t start until specified times during Thursday and Friday.
For its doorbuster sale, the Target store at 960 Fairplain Drive in Benton Township will open at 6 p.m. today and remain open through 10 p.m. Friday. The store hours on Saturday and Sunday are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Target store manager Ashley Turley said they consider this to be the best time for families to go shopping, as they also opened the same time on Thanksgiving a year ago.
“A ton of guests came out to shop and took advantage of our Black Friday deals last year,” she said. “We hear from many guests that the 6 p.m. open time allowed them to enjoy the tradition of Black Friday without having to shop through the entire night.”
Doorbuster maps will be handed outside to customers waiting in line. The digital version will be available on the Target app.
Turley said all store employees are scheduled to work at some time over Black Friday weekend. She also said they are there to help if a problem arises.
“Wait patiently and follow the directions from the store teams to keep everyone safe,” Turley said. “We will have plenty of team members around if guests have questions or need help finding something.”
Numerous other stores around Southwest Michigan will be open this evening and/or offering Black Friday deals.
Shopping downtown on Friday
Bargain hunters can also venture to downtown St. Joseph on Friday and Saturday.
Whitney Behnke, executive director of St. Joseph Today, said merchants will begin their extended holiday hours on Black Friday.
In addition to special sales, shoppers can also enjoy free, horse-drawn trolley rides from noon to 3 p.m. on Friday. On Small Business Saturday, special giveaways and discounts will be available.
Behnke said downtown St. Joseph is a good venue for people who seldom go shopping.
“You will easily find gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list from our merchants, restaurants and entertainment venues,” Behnke said in an email. “Our shops are not overwhelming like malls or the big box stores. The owners and associates are very attentive to helping you find gifts within your budget.”
For a full list of shops and Small Business Saturday specials, visit www.stjoetoday.com/shopsmall.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 26, 2015)