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Black Friday, Buy Nothing or something in between?

Black Friday was a bit off, sales wise, this year. That’s only because retailers changed up the game and decided to open a day(ish) earlier, leaving the country’s two favorite past times (eating and shopping) to battle it out in what will now be known as Brown Thursday (can’t confirm is that’s an official title). Combining the two days, sales were up, slightly year over year.

Of course, not everyone is so taken with the idea of mass consumerism, and some chose to abstain from the whole ordeal. In a recent column, I wrote about Buy Nothing Day (aka Occupy Christmas) a grass-roots day of protest against … well all the craziness we saw on the nightly news this weekend. Camping out in front of Target, for example.

Feedback on the column was mostly positive, mostly from people who think the current state of American consumerism, with its corporate box stores and HUGE SAVINGS, is unsustainable. Or, at the very least creating bad cycles (See: Walmart’s canned food drive for its own employees).

And even with all of this year’s hubbub, there are signs that habits may be changing. Websites like Etsy and Bandcamp, for example, and the success of crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter prove that people are looking for new ways to engage their consumerism, even as the old ways are breaking down. Trend analyst Eric Garland’s piece on the fiscal troubles of Guitar Center seems to agree.

So the question goes to you: Did you shop Black Friday, or buy nothing? Or, do you just not care either way? Is the resurgence of the mom-and-pop shop on the horizon?

The great Black Friday debate: Will you shop on Thanksgiving Day?

Black Friday

Photo: Ross Taylor, Associated Press

The Black Friday shopping craziness is coming. In fact, it should be called Black Thursday this year because most of the big stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Fashion Fair mall and many department stores will open at 8 p.m. Thursday, for instance. Craft store Michaels will open at 4 p.m.  Will you be there?

With Black Friday encroaching on the time usually reserved for turkey and pumpkin pie, the debate over early openings has reached a fever pitch this year. On one side, there’s the multiple generations of families in town for the holidays who have made a tradition of going shopping for great deals and spending quality time waiting in line together. In the other corner are the people vowing not to shop. They believe retail workers should have one holiday to stay home with their families, and abhor the expression of consumerism and greed.

Where do you stand?

Below are opening times for major stores (and for the record, Costco, Sur La Table and RadioShack deliberately are not opening on Thanksgiving Day).

Opening times on Thanksgiving Day:

6 a.m. Kmart (Kmart has opened at 6 a.m. in the past, but this year it won’t close during the middle of the day. It will stay open for 41 hours through Friday.)

4 p.m. Michaels

5 p.m. Toys “R” Us

6 p.m. Best Buy

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Black Friday: Mindless greed or harmless fun?

Photo by Bee photographer Eric Zamora

As the Bee’s retail reporter, I cover Black Friday, the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season, every year. At about 12:30 a.m. Friday, I found myself at Fashion Fair mall, stuck in a mob of people outside Victoria’s Secret.

The crowd had completely filled up the mall corridor and come to a standstill. Hundreds of people were trying to get inside the store, which was letting only a few people in at a time. It was hot, people were breathing on me and a feeling of claustrophobia was starting to climb up my throat. I heard screaming. The forearm of the woman behind me was pressing into my back even though I’d already loudly told her to stop pushing me. I reached behind me and squeezed her arm because it seemed like the only thing to do at the time that might get her to stop.

I’d find out later that people were getting pushed and smashed up against the glass of Victoria’s Secret. All this for what? A $25 hoodie? Don’t these people know you can get a hoodie at Target for $12 any day of the year? Suddenly I came to a crystal clear conclusion: I hate this. I want to be as far away from here as possible.

But as miserable as that experience was, it’s hard to demonize Black Friday as a whole. There’s another side to the night that’s just plain fun. Earlier in the evening, people were friendly and quick to laugh as I hopped from store to store. Whenever I asked someone who spent hours waiting to get sinside a store how they passed the time, they all said the same thing: Making new friends. People who were once strangers were swapping stories, jokes and shopping strategies. The woman who ate her Thanksgiving dinner on the sidewalk outside Target befriended a cute little 10-year-old boy and the two of them laughed their way through the hours. Mothers and daughters in town for the holiday spent hours catching up.

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Black Friday gets an early start

Are you ready, Black Friday shoppers? Or should I say “Black Thursday?”

The post-Thanksgiving shopping madness starts earlier than ever this year as Toys “R” Us, Walmart and Sears break out the doorbuster deals at 8 p.m. and Target opens at 9 p.m. Thursday.

You can read all about what to expect in the Fresno area here. Note that stores like Walmart, Target and Sears are appealing to night owls and early birds alike with waves of different doorbuster deals throughout the night.

The earlier-than-ever opening times are inspiring a backlash from Target and Walmart workers, who say they’re ruining Thanksgiving.

But if you’re one of the many caffeinated Americans who make Black Friday shopping a family tradition, the opening times listed below can help you plan your strategy. Most retailers Black Friday ads will be Thursday’s Fresno Bee or are already online.

Also, many Starbucks locations near major shopping areas will be open all night Thursday, including Starbucks at River Park and the new one at Shaw and West avenues.

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The Beehive Asks: What could make you wait in line for 12 hours?

 Lines, lines, lines. There are a lot of them these days. “Twilight” fans will be lined up for hours to be the first to see “Breaking Dawn Part 2,” later this week. On Monday night, video gamers stood in the cold waiting for the midnight release of the latest “Call of Duty.”

Last week, many of those same people lined up for “Halo 4.” Oh, and there’s this little thing called Black Friday coming up.

Nobody at The Beehive has stood in a crazy-long line recently for hours upon hours. Unless Bethany hides her “Call of Duty” addiction well. But it made us think: What WOULD we wait in line for? What would YOU? A movie you love? A new product you’d trade sleep and a shower for? Or would it have to be something out of the realm of possibility – like Tupac’s comeback concert at Tokyo Garden?

Here are our answers. Chime in with yours. Hint: Be as creative as you have to be.

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Fres-Know: We’re thankful for your clicks

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VOTE: Help Fresno vie for $1 million to feed our hungry from Walmart. [Walmart]

DID THEY JUST SAY FRESNO: The Cougar Convention made The Today Show [NBC]

DRINK THIS: A Turkey Day treat — the Cranberry Sauce Cocktail [Fashionably Bombed]

GOOD READ: Going meatless of Thanksgiving [Taste Fresno]

KNOW THIS: Black Thursday is the new Black Friday. [The Bee]

NEWS: New stores at the local malls. [The Bee]

WATCH THIS: Part 1 of doc about ’80s punk band Capitol Punishment [Fresno Famous]

GOOD READ(S): George Hostetter has been a city blogging machine lately. [City Beat]

LEBOWSKI ALERT: A Big Lebowski Night planned at Rodeo Lanes [Fresno Famous]

BLOGGINGS: It all changes as you get older — even video game tastes [Dumb Drum]

NOMINATE: Nominations are open for this year’s 40 Under 40. [Business Street]

NSFW BLOGGINGS: Local sex blogger answers: “Do girls like porn?” [Tits & Giggles]