HOUGHTON - Minutes before the store opened Thursday night, Shopko Manager Marge Crep addressed the 20-strong staff about products, break times and remembering to have fun.
She then unlocked the door and the madness began.
The Black Friday sales started earlier than usual this year. Instead of getting up early Friday morning, customers were able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal and then head out to the stores the same day.
Scott Viau/Daily Mining Gazette
After waiting outside for up to an hour, shoppers pile into Shopko Thursday night in order to get the best deals on the hottest items. The store opened at 9 p.m and will continue to stay open until 11 p.m. tonight. It will reopen at 6 a.m. Saturday.
Shopko opened its doors at 9 p.m., moving up its opening time three hours from last year.
According to Crep, they've been preparing for this day since the beginning of October.
"A lot of it is going back to what we did the previous year and reviewing all that," Crep said. "In October you're already getting ready for Christmas anyway, so then it's just the thought process of what our aisles are going to look like and what do we want to do for the front end of the store for lines."
Crep said they also need to figure out how many workers will be needed.
"We've got eight cashiers right off the bat," Crep said. "And then you've got four to five teammates in the different departments."
Among some of the deals people will be looking for are electronics like iPads, tablets and the new Nintendo console, Wii U.
Even though Walmart had been open all day and its sales started at 8 p.m., Crep said she believes they share the wealth in terms of customers.
"You've got smart shoppers out there," Crep said. "They study the ads. They're gonna look for who has the best deals."
This Black Friday will be the 19th for Crep, who says it's the best day to work.
"It's the most fun, it truly is," Crep said. "It flies by and when the customers are in here, I've never run into anyone who's been mad. As long as they've got their stuff and they're in line, they're happy."
Despite stores opening earlier, Crep said she's heard from some customers who would like the sales to begin on Friday morning.
With the doors opening at 9 p.m., Shopko will remain open through the rest of the night until 11 p.m. tonight. Crep says it's hard to say when the rush in customers will come after the initial one at opening.
"Last year, it was the first five hours and then there was a little bit of a lull and then there was another hit after that," Crep said. "We had a lot of the traditional customers who waited until 5 a.m."
Crep also expects to be busy again this afternoon and hopes it lasts throughout the weekend.
Outside in the line before the store opened, Laurena Blakeman of Ashland, Wis., stood in line with her sister, Melanie Bush, to take advantage of the savings.
"(I'm here) to help my sister get some Christmas presents for her children," Blakeman said.
She added that she loves that the stores are open on Thursday.
"It gives you a better chance to get to each store," Bush said.
Blakeman and Bush had already been to Walmart for their 8 p.m. deals before they headed over to Shopko. When done there, they will go back to Walmart for the deals that begin at 10 p.m.
"We'll find whatever's open and just keep going if it takes all night," Blakeman said.