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Some Thanksgiving observers’ weekend plans include loosening their waistbands, watching football, decorating the house for Christmas or indulging in a turkey-induced nap or two.

But the ambitious lace up their sneakers, clutch their shopping lists and grab their credit cards, hitting the parking lots of local retailers from Thanksgiving night through Sunday.

Desloge Walmart and Farmington JCPenney were two local retailers open Thanksgiving night.

JCPenney, whose holiday shopping season officially kicked off at 2 p.m. Thanksgiving, handed out special coupons — for anywhere from $10 to $500 — to those standing in line, waiting for the doors to open. The store stayed open until midnight. Its hours are 7 a.m.-9 p.m. tonight.

“We do this every year,” said one shopper, who was first in line at JCPenney by noon with his kids. “Why not? It’s fun and it beats hanging around the house. I made sure we were here early, too, I want that $500 coupon.”

By about 1:30 p.m., the line in front of JCPenney was backed up to Petco, next door. Half an hour later, the line snaked all the way around the corner to Great Clips. One man mourned leaving his place at the front of the line, earlier.

“I was at the front of the line just before noon, but I had to go to the bathroom, so I left for awhile, thinking, eh, it’s bad weather, people won’t be out as much. When I came back, the line was all the way back here,” he said. “And I saw that guy at the front of the line get out of his car and head over to my spot, when I left, too.”

One woman in line said she’d come up all the way from Piedmont to look for bargains, especially on $25 comforters.

Another woman said she had just moved to the area from Chester, Illinois, where a visit to the department store meant a 45-minute or hour-long drive. “When I found out there was a JCPenney here, I was excited!” she said. “This is great!”

Floor manager Jeffrey Melton said he was enjoying the bustle.

“It’s fast-paced, everyone’s excited, and people often know exactly what they’re looking for, and if they don’t, we can tell them where to find it,” he said. “We have a great crew today, and one girl comes back and helps us on her breaks from college, which helps a lot. I don’t think the rainy weather has had any effect on the crowds we’re seeing.”

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Desloge Walmart, open all Thanksgiving day with sales kicking off at 6 p.m., was teeming with hundreds of shoppers taking advantage of deals on electronics, apparel and toys.

Black Friday deals this year, according to Walmart’s corporate news release, include Apple AirPods with charging case, 40” Class 1080p Roku Smart TV only at Walmart, Samsung 16GB storage Chromebook 3, Instant Pot 6-Qt. Duo, iRobot 670 Wi-Fi Vacuum, Disney Frozen 2 Fold & Go Arendelle Castle and Hover-1 All-Star Hoverboard.

“We’re very blessed at this store to have excellent associates, excellent security personnel, and the managers who work here are fantastic, as well,” said store manager William Britton, who’s spent about eight years at Desloge Walmart, 15 with the company overall.

“But really, a lot of credit should go to this man right here,” he said, indicating Rick Roush, who has been with Walmart for 33 years. “He plans out the set up, he’s makes everything happen, we work on it for four months and next week, we’ll talk about what happened here tonight and plan for next year’s Black Friday weekend.”

Walmart employees are trained for the onslaught of customers who fill up practically every square yard of the 188,000 square-foot building. The retail juggernaut instituted three ways to make shoppers’ quests easier and efficient.

First, they color-coded items in their circular and in their app, so shoppers could find their targets more easily in their store map contained in the app.

Once shoppers got to the store, they only had to look for the right-colored signs, balloons and associates’ vests to tell them they were getting warmer to their deal.

Third, Walmart had Check Out With Me associates available throughout the store, giving customers the option of bypassing the regular checkout lines and paying for everything right where they were shopping.

With hundreds of customers jammed into the place, one might imagine things could get tense. But the mood was light, chatty and friendly, just as Britton said it would be.

“People in this community are very generous,” he said. “Every year, at this store, I see customers helping each other, handing each other things if they’re near them, offering to help buy things. It’s all good. I love to see it.”

Those retailers who weren’t open on Thanksgiving — such as Menards, Lowe’s and various small business retailers — have deals going today through Sunday. Check out the circulars in today’s edition or go on www.dailyjournalonline.com to find out what’s hot.

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Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at shaas@dailyjournalonline.com.

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