York shoppers bear chilly wind for early deals

By 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, only four people were waiting in line for the 5 p.m. opening of the West Manchester Township Target.

"She was out here like an hour and a half with nobody," said Tisha Leiphart, of Dover.

Leiphart was referring to Mindy Zook, of Mifflintown, Juniata County, who was first in line and arrived around 3 p.m. She was visiting her friend Tania Zech, of West Manchester Township.

Zook said she was here to get a TV for her father — "not even for myself," she joked, as she stood in a windbreaker and black earmuffs.

Though it was only 45 degrees, the windchill made it feel like 39 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Several people  were huddled in their cars to escape the wind of the overcast Thanksgiving Day.

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Early Black Friday: Every year across the country, millions of shoppers line up at big box stores to take advantage of discounts or deals on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. But in recent years, that tradition has expanded to include stores that open the evening of the holiday itself.

Zook said she's been coming out for five or six years on Thanksgiving Day for the big-ticket items such as the 65-inch Element TV she had her eye on.

"It's the fun," Zook said, on why she shops early. "I get a lot of good laughs watching people," and besides, the men are out deer hunting, she said.

The West Manchester Township Target has been doing the earlier opening since 2014 or 2015, said Target's human resources manager, Patti Brown.

"It's a lot of preparation," she said, adding that employees work overnight to get the store ready.

In line: Outside, an employee was handing out outlines of where items are located, as well as tickets for sought-after products — such as Zook's TV — that allow the checkout process to go more smoothly.

Friends Mindy Zook of Mifflintown, left, Tania Zech of West Manchester Township, were the first shoppers into the West Manchester Township Target Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. They waited in line two hours for the 5 p.m. store opening on Thanksgiving Day. Zook said she stays in York for a weekend of shopping with her friend. "My husband went home," she said. Bill Kalina photo

The situation is a lot less frenzied than it used to be when Target was only open on Black Friday, Brown said. 

Zech said she thinks stores such as Target won't even have the line-up in a year or two, since an employee told her that more and more orders are coming in online. But Brown said despite growing online sales, the in-store sales are still strong.

Brittany Barakat of York City plops a Squishmallow toy into her cart while shopping at the West Manchester Township Target for holiday deals on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. She said the gift was for her son. Bill Kalina photo

Shoppers this Thanksgiving came for a number of different reasons. 

Alyssa Lamparter, of Dover Township, came to get a car seat for her 17-month-old son Layton, and Seth and Rachel Gainer, with their sons Conlan, 10, and Madden, 8, were there for a Christmas tree they forgot to get earlier.

"We didn't want to let the kids down," Seth Gainer said.

Target had more than 100 customers in line 10 minutes before doors opened, and some were itching to get out of the cold.

"I didn't think we'd be waiting," said Bishop Hunt, of Dover Township, who was wearing short sleeves and didn't realize the store opened at 5 p.m.

But despite the anticipation, it wasn't a mad rush. The line filed in to cheers from employees as customers grabbed their carts — some just walking a little bit more briskly toward the TVs.

"I think we're used to it," Brown said.