By Douglas Moser
---- — SALEM, N.H. — A woman from Mansfield and her Methuen cousin got in line at Target about 4 p.m. yesterday. Others, eyes on the same giant TV with an equally giant discount, trickled in a little later.
Not to be outdone, one family from Haverhill got in line at Best Buy just before 4 p.m. On Wednesday.
Holiday shopping in New Hampshire has conquered Thanksgiving, as many major national retailers open their doors at 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. Kmart opened at 6 a.m. yesterday and planned to stay open into tonight.
Ryan Anderson, of Dracut, got in line outside Target at about 4 p.m. yesterday, and was about a dozen people back, waiting for an 8 p.m. open. He, like most people in line, were motivated for a 50-inch television on sale for about $225.
What brought him out on a clear but cold holiday? “It’s the deals,” he said. “It’s not like this any other day.” A man behind him shouted, “My wife!”
At Best Buy, which opened at 6 p.m., staff handed out tickets printed on paper of various colors. The Merciers, of Haverhill, got in line at 4 p.m. Wednesday and camped out overnight. They were first in line, with a ticket to buy a camera. Early holiday shopping has become something of a tradition for them.
“We did it for the last five years,” said Vicki Mercier.
They brought a tent to stay overnight, but their son, Roland Jr., was the only one who slept in it. “We slept in the truck,” Vicki Mercier said.
Best Buy store general manager David St. Cyr said the color of the tickets matched one of a handful of products they thought would be in high demand, including cameras and laptops.
“The biggest thing we’re doing here is explaining how it works to people and letting people in, in an orderly fashion,” he said. “And we make sure everyone here gets something. No need to run, push or scream.”
Bargain hunters and those looking for hot holiday gifts before they sell out have been lining up at stores for years, but until recently those frenzies have waited until early Friday, when the turkey has digested, the pie is gone and the arguing over politics ends.
Families in line said they made other arrangements for their Thanksgiving meals. Felipe LaSanta, of Lawrence, waited in line at Target, also looking at that 50-inch TV, had his Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday. The Merciers at Best Buy said they will have Thanksgiving today.
Thousands of people came here yesterday, many from Massachusetts. The line at Best Buy on Broadway began building in earnest yesterday afternoon, shoppers said, and had roughly 200 people winding around the side of the building.
At Target just up the road, about 100 waited, thinking about the cheap TVs and the new XBox One game consoles on their checklists while standing in temperatures that fell below freezing after sunset.
Wal-Mart had two sales yesterday with rolling starts, one at 6 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. The line to get into the parking lot stretched along Broadway for a quarter mile, back to Old Rockingham Road. The lot was packed; cars didn’t move. Lots at nearby stores, like the closed Dollar Tree, also were full with Wal-Mart shoppers who walked to the store.
Shoppers packed the Mall at Rockingham Park by 8 p.m., waiting in line to get into Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret.
Stores in Massachusetts are prohibited by law from opening on Thanksgiving. Most of the national retailers opened after midnight this morning.
Roland Mercier Sr. said he liked that the stores opened on Thanksgiving. “It’s good for the people who need the work and good for people who need the discounts,” he said.
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