Big Islanders wake up early to get in on Black Friday deals
November 25, 2023, 1:00 AM HST
For the most wonderful time of year for holiday shopping, Big Islanders woke up early in Hilo to take advantage of Black Friday deals at Walmart and Target. It was busy but not crazy.
Before Walmart opened at 6 a.m., hundreds of people formed a line extending from the store’s west entrance around the corner onto the sidewalk along Makaʻala Street.
The smell of live Christmas trees — mingling with the scent of fresh rain after an earlier shower — wafted through the air from the tree stand outside the store as an inflatable Santa greeted customers.
When the doors opened, Walmart let people in 10 at a time to start the day. By 7 a.m. the line was gone, but shoppers continued to steadily stream in.
The reclining and swiveling GTRACING gaming chair, complete with a footrest, seemed to be one of the most popular bigger items, priced at $99, a $40 savings. At least four left the store in carts within minutes of each other.
TVs of all sizes, perennial favorites of Black Friday shoppers, also were being loaded up to take home.
Notably, it seems people gobbled up their fill on Thanksgiving Day with the food departments at both stores relatively empty.
Most carts were brimming — or overflowing — as shoppers left Walmart with their bounty, many of which carried bed and throw pillows, food storage containers, small kitchen appliances such as air fryers, cookware and stuffed plush versions of Pokémon including Pikachu, Squirtle and Charmander, among other hot ticket items.
The buzz from customers in the electronics departments at both stores, especially Target, was louder than the electronic hum emanating from the merchandise on the shelves.
Similar scenes played out at Target, which opened an hour earlier at 6 a.m. with a line, albeit smaller than Walmart’s with about 40 people.
Electronics, and especially TVs, were the most sought after items. Nearly 10 Westinghouse 70-inch 4K Ultra HD smart Roku TVs were sold between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m. The television was selling for $299.99, a savings of $220.
One couple loaded their new 50-inch TV in the bed of their truck, next to a live Christmas tree.
Holiday decorations and wrapping paper were also on shopping lists and families could be heard debating about which vacuum cleaner to buy or whether to add a Care Bear plushy to their already toy-filled carts.
But Starbucks might have been the busiest spot in Target with shoppers who got up early needing caffeine. McDonald’s inside Walmart also was busy with customers eating breakfast or taking it to go, on their way to find more deals.
Jon Texeira and his family arrived at Target about an hour after the store opened. The best deal they found was on the official Mega Megalodon Monster Jam all-terrain remote control monster truck with lights. They had three in their carts as they headed to their vehicles. The toy was on sale for $60.49 Friday instead of its regular $109.99 price tag.
It was Texeira’s first Black Friday experience. He doesn’t like lines and usually works the day after Thanksgiving, but was off work this year and decided to tag along with his family.
“It was good,” the Hilo resident said. “Not too much people.”
Raelyn Shinshiro arrived at about 6:45 a.m. at Walmart, getting in at the tail end of the line. This year she was off work and decided to brave the crowds. She found a 75-inch TV for less than $500 and bought several throw pillows, pajamas and food containers.
“It was great,” she said. “Better than the years before.”
City sidewalks will again be busy with more holiday deals available on Small Business Saturday.
The day was founded in 2010 by American Express and has been officially co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Association since 2011 as a way to support and celebrate small and locally-owned businesses and everything they do for their communities.
According to the Small Business Association, shoppers spent an estimated $18 billion last year on Small Business Saturday.
A new report by IPX1031, a Fidelity National financial company, found that among the nation’s small business owners, 44% depend on holiday sales. Hawai‘i is one of the states with the most small businesses, boasting nearly 10,000 throughout the islands.
As of early Friday afternoon, 30 of the 334 total votes, or 8%, in Big Island Now’s most recent poll, asking if Big Island residents planned to shop on Black Friday this year, said they wait for Small Business Saturday to support local business.
Watch for the full poll results Sunday.