Boxing Day madness came very early to Red Deer on Sunday.
Old Navy clothing retailer opened its doors for the first time at 4 a.m. — a couple hours earlier than the major consumer electronics outlets. Three employees arrived at 3 a.m. to prepare for the onslaught of eager shoppers, including two boys who had slept overnight. About 70 people filed through at opening to take advantage of the 70 per cent off sale of many items.
At Best Buy electronics store, an estimated 200 to 300 people waited in line for the store to open at 6 a.m. According to staff, shoppers began lining up at 1 a.m. — the earliest ever. It was definitely the busiest ever in three years, said one employee who figured the mild winter weather may have played a big factor.
Televisions and laptops were the hot sellers.
Last year 37,000 people lined up at Best Buy’s 70 stores across Canada before the doors opened, an average of almost 530 people per store.
Shawn Winder, of Ponoka, bought himself a 50-inch plasma TV at Future Shop for $600 off the regular price. He hoped to find a wall mount for his TV at Best Buy.
“I’ve been doing this for the last six years and it’s worth it — every year,” Winder said.
Leaving Best Buy, Edgard Trivino of Red Deer figures he got a great deal on his home theatre speaker system, which he saved about $600 on.
He also bought an audio receiver.
“I’ve been here for four Boxing Days — every time I come early,” said Trivino, who began shopping at 6 a.m.
Srini Ragavan of Red Deer said his brother-in-law from Calgary wanted to come to Red Deer’s Boxing Day sales because they wouldn’t be as crazy as in the big city.
“We were at Future Shop at 5 a.m. and there were about 50 to 60 guys in front of us,” said Ragavan, chuckling. “We were a little bit late. I think they were waiting since about 4 a.m.”
Brandon Crawford and his older brother Drew each bought large plasma TVs at Visions Electronics Store. They didn’t arrive until about 7:40 a.m. and yet they managed to still get hot buys.
“We waited in line for about 10 minutes and then once we got in the store, instantly we got service,” said Brandon. “Then we waited another 15 minutes (to pay).”
Drew added he normally tries to avoid Boxing Day sales, but he would definitely do this again.
Jesse Kope, sales manager for Visions, said the lineup to get in at 7 a.m. stretched from the side entrance door and around the corner of the store.
“It was bigger than last year but not as big as before the recession,” Kope said. “You can definitely see an improvement.”
Over at Future Shop, various items were being plucked off store shelves. Many shoppers began lining up at 5 a.m. and by the time the doors opened, the lineup stretched past the Michaels craft store. One person had camped out since 11 p.m. on Christmas Day.
Kelly Copley, department sales manager, said staff made things easier by seeing what shoppers in the line were interested in. Their name was then put on the product and once inside, they simply paid for it.
Employees began arriving at 3 a.m. to prepare for a long hectic day that wouldn’t end until several hours after doors closed at 8 p.m., Copley said.
“It’s definitely worth it to shop — my husband and my mom came in and bought stuff. It’s cheaper than we could ever get it for, working here.”
Bower Place Shopping Centre opened its doors at 9:30 a.m. so people didn’t have to face getting up in the middle of the night to take advantage of slashed prices. At The Bay, which opened at 9 a.m., Katherine Stokalko of Saskatoon was busy browsing.
“I like looking at the Christmas decorations — that’s mostly when I get them because they’re cheap.”
At Parkland Mall, a small lineup of people waited for their turn to get into Michael Hill Jeweller. Shivam Singh of Red Deer bought a pair of gold earrings for his girlfriend, for $1 when they were regular $69. Each shopper could only make one purchase at a time, so Singh returned at the back of the line for his chance to buy a gold chain.