By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico
Three women in Clovis have donned variations of Santa hats early Black Friday for their traditional day of shopping for the past 10 years.
Jennifer McKinney, her sister Carri Valverde and her mother Linda Jacquez wear the hats to take some stress out of the chaos on the first shopping day of the Christmas season.
“Everybody gets so stressed and crazy on this Black Friday,” McKinney said. “We started with Santa hats and it made people smile. Then we started finding crazy hats and made it even better.”
The three women started their day at Wal-Mart at 4:30 a.m. They hit the mall, Hastings, Hobby Lobby, Walgreens, The Master’s Center, Big Lots and made their way back to Wal-Mart before calling it a day.
“We didn’t have anything specific we were looking for. We just go out to make everybody else smile,” McKinney said. “We got a lot of attention this year. Not all of it was good — someone called us crazy — but for the most part it made people smile.”
McKinney said the three try to remind people of what Christmas is about.
“Christmas is suppose to be a fun time and a time for family. Sometimes people get too caught up in the hustle and bustle and take the joy out of it,” McKinney said. “We can let them stop doing that even if it’s for just a minute or so.”
Major retailers in Clovis and Portales saw the bulk of the crowds, according to retail business owners in both cities.
Cindy Bannister, manager of North Plains Mall, said crowds were bigger this year than last year’s first Christmas shopping day after Thanksgiving.
“More than 200 cars were in the parking lot at 4 a.m. waiting for JC Penney to open,” Bannister said.
At 1 p.m., Bannister said the crowds were still going strong at the mall.
“I’m sure here in a couple of hours, they’ll all be home taking naps,” she said.
Bannister said managers from some of the 39 stores in the mall were pleased with the amount of sales and traffic they saw on Black Friday. Bannister said many of the customers came out early for big doorbuster items.
Leslie Creighton, owner of Creighton’s Town and Country in Portales, said her Friday was the same as any typical Friday.
“Today was nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “People use this day to hit the major chain stores that offer the $5 toaster. I think that’s what people are looking for today.”
Gebo’s Store Manager Sheri Garrison said the Clovis store had a steady crowd through out the day. Garrison said this years crowds were about the same as last years.
“Our parking lot has been really full,” she said.
Garrison said the store had sales on jeans, outerwear, boots and toys.
“People know when we have our toys on sale. They come in for our toys and jeans,” Garrison said.