West Jordan • While shoppers aren't certain they're entirely comfortable with the idea of big-box retailers opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, hundreds could not resist the lure of a bargain.
Jose Navaro of West Valley City may be an extreme example. He started waiting Monday to be at the front of the line at the Jordan Landing Best Buy. He spent the week lifting weights and reading books so he could get deals on two televisions and a laptop computer when the store opened Thursday night.
Nearby, Moises Tnangueno and two friends ate pie and ice cream inside their car waiting for Best Buy to open.
"It's kind of crazy," Tnangueno said. "On Thanksgiving, you are giving thanks for all you have and then you march into the crowds."
The scene at 8 p.m. at the JCPenney store at West Valley City's Valley Fair Mall was typical of many seen throughout the Salt Lake valley as shoppers finished Thanksgiving dinner early so they could get serious about Christmas shopping.
Moments before the doors opened, managers gave red-clad store employees goodie bags to thank them for working the holiday evening. One of the store leaders, Elizabeth Maack, said if tradition held true, customers would race to the kitchenwares department where many household electrical gizmos such as waffle irons, blenders and crockpots were selling for less than $10. She was right. That was the craziest area of the store.
"This is the best day of the year," she said while bringing in a cart of free gifts for customers. "I am so glad we have people waiting outside our door. We are ready for the crowds. We are ready for an awesome day."
As the doors opened, several hundred shoppers crowded through them, some waving their hands in the air.
"I'm excited," said Michelle Cuinei as she grabbed some appliances. "This is my first Black Friday. So far I've gotten what I wanted, waffle makers and a drink pitcher. I didn't miss out on anything."
Big-box stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us and Shopko seemed to draw some of the largest group of shoppers.
The Wal-Mart at Jordan Landing remained opened all day Thursday. Shoppers began getting wristbands and were handed store maps late in the afternoon, with one sale starting at 6 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. for a different group of wristband holders. The parking lot was full, but there were no lines outside the store.
"This is ridiculous," said Charity McCormick of Kearns, who came to Wal-Mart to buy her daughter a bike. "People should be home with their families. We had to do dinner at 2 p.m."
At the Jordan Landing Best Buy, a portable toilet was set up outside in the parking lot to accommodate those standing in line. Andrew Warby tried working the crowd selling hot chocolate and donuts, though another local business was giving away hot chocolate.
"I used to think it was almost immoral to be open on Thanksgiving," he said. "But I started selling and people wanted it, so there are more opportunities for me."
Julye Pappadakis of Salt Lake City started waiting in line at the Taylorsville Target at 3:30 p.m. in hopes of getting a 50-inch flat screen television for $229. She was in front of a line of about 150 that kept growing as the 8 p.m. opening approached.
At the Taylorsville Shopko, Ken Iverson got in line at 1 p.m. in hopes of buying a 32-inch television for $99. He said it was a different way to spend Thanksgiving, but he and Charles Borders seemed to enjoy the experience.
"You make some of the best friends in line," said Borders, who had a long list for his 11 grandkids and six great-grandkids.
At the West Valley City Toys "R" Us, the parking lot was crowded but not full. Tamara Hammond said the crowds weren't as bad as she expected. She and family members thought it was a shame the stores opened so early but they were happy with the deals.
As was expected nationally, the big draws at the box stores were mostly electronics, especially televisions, game systems and tablets.
Eric Jones and Philip Bengler, cofounders of the website www.bestblackfriday.com, said consumers would find a few select good deals and doorbusters, but warned they need to be careful not to be sucked in.
Jones said retailers are often willing to take a lower profit or a loss on a few good deals hoping that shoppers will decide to buy things that might be available cheaper elsewhere. He added that shoppers who are not serious gamers or computer tech geeks might be able to save by purchasing the previous model tablet or game console instead of buying the more expensive new models.
Bengler said that the new PlayStation and XBox game consoles likely will not be discounted, but also could be hard to find. Stores that have a good number of these hard-to-find items may be worth the wait for shoppers who absolutely must have these devices.