Jacksonville’s newest retailer opened its doors just in time to welcome customers to the biggest shopping day of the year.

One week after celebrating its grand opening, the team at Academy Sports + Outdoors is anxious to greet the Black Friday crowds.

“Coming straight from our grand opening, we’re ready for Black Friday,” said store director Jamar King, who has worked for the company for nine years.

Academy Sports is among the stores that will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but King said their team will be ready to help customers to the store find the deals they are after as Black Friday rings in the holiday shopping season. Their store will be open Friday 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The Black Friday crowds can be daunting, but King said they want the day to be an enjoyable one for both shoppers and their staff. Customer service, he said, is their priority.

“Anyone who comes in here, we want to treat them like family. We want to go to them and say, ‘What can I help you find?’ If you come here for Black Friday, you are coming here for a reason and we want to help.”

For many shoppers, it is the possibility of big savings that draws them out for the search for Black Friday deals.

Linda Clendenin of Jacksonville hasn’t done Black Friday shopping for several years but is contemplating going out this year, primarily for discounts and coupons that could mean big deals for her at stores like Kohl’s.

“I’m going to go where the best deals are,” Clendenin said.

Clendenin said she can shop online for many things without the hassle of waiting for deals on items you may or may not get at the store.

She said she waited in line at a Best Buy store in Florida for a deal on a television from 8 p.m. to the early hours of the morning.

“We left without it,” Clendenin said of the television.

Clendenin said she applauds the stores that stay closed on Thanksgiving Day so employees can spend time with family but admits that if she goes out to shop this year she’s inclined to head to Kohl’s after it opens at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

“I usually don’t go out Thanksgiving night, but I might this year to get it done,” Clendenin said.
Kohl’s won’t be the only ones starting Black Friday deals at the stores on Thursday. JCPenney will open at 3 p.m. Best Buy and Toys R Us will open at 5 p.m. and Target will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Wal-mart is open 24 hours a day but will begin its Black Friday event at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
While the in-store Black Friday shopping is a tradition for some, other area residents said they will bypass it altogether.

A number of residents commented on social media sites that Black Friday deals aren’t what they once were with stores offering pre-Black Friday deals on-site and other deals and savings online.

Others would rather not fight the crowd when there are other ways to save.

Stephanie Wasson said she started doing a lot of online shopping while her family was stationed in Japan and has found it more convenient. She said she can find equal Black Friday deals, or better, online and not have to worry about getting up early to beat the crowd.

“I just think it is more convenient. You don’t have to fight all the people for that one thing when you can go online and get the same thing,” Wasson said.

For those searching for deals available at businesses around Jacksonville and Onslow County, the Thanksgiving Day edition of The Daily News will include all the advertising inserts from retailers — more than 700 pages worth.

This year’s paper will also include the Great Big Book of Savings, a 54-page coupon book full of coupons from local advertisers.

On the cover of the book is a post-it-note that can be scratched off for a chance to win one of several $250 gift cards.  Winners will be instructed to call a phone number to start the prize claims process.

Browsing through the inserts for bargains is a Thanksgiving tradition for many; and Don Wilson, circulation manager for The Daily News, said it takes to hard work of a lot of people to get it delivered to readers on Thanksgiving Day.

An average route for a carrier is about 220 papers, and the Thanksgiving Day paper includes the regular sections plus two insert packages.

“It’s the biggest paper of the year and quite a chore for the newspaper carriers to get the paper out,” Wilson said.

Wilson said it can take double the time to deliver the paper due to its size; but due to the holiday’s early deadline, all papers should be delivered by 6 a.m.