AUBURN — The days of outrageous lines and enticing doorbuster deals on Black Friday may now be a thing of the past as retailers’ sales strategies and shoppers’ habits change.

Early Friday morning, scores of loyal Black Friday shoppers braved the cold in search of holiday gifts and bargain prices at Auburn department stores. At the new Target, dozens waited in their cars, only emerging to form a line more than 100 strong just 10 minutes before the 7 a.m. opening, upward of two hours later than most other department stores in the area.

But gone are the days of packed parking lots, hourslong waits and, as some believe, quality sales items.

Brenda Dyment of Wilton, an annual Black Friday shopper, was up by 4:30 a.m., first stopping at JCPenney in search of gifts. Dyment said she’s sad to see how the annual sales day has changed, commenting that she especially misses the midnight deals.

“It used to be a lot more exciting on Thanksgiving Day when you’re making the turkey, and you’re just thinking of all of the exciting places you’re getting ready to go to after that dinner,” said Dyment as she waited for Target to open. “When you go out, just seeing that time of night, all of the lights, driving, getting in line, waiting in this long line for you to go in. It’s just the excitement of all the people and all the happy thoughts.”

Brenda Dyment of Wilton gets details of Target’s layout Friday morning from property manager Lindsey Pride before the Auburn store opened at 7 a.m. Dyment was looking for Christmas presents for family members. She says she shops in person on Black Friday each year because it gets her into the holiday spirit. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Dyment isn’t the only one who misses the thrill of late night sales. Many of the people the Sun Journal spoke to said they felt the same.


“Ten to 15 years ago, this store would have had the whole parking lot wrapped around with people waiting to get in,” Dyment said. “It’s not like it used to be.”

Some people point to online shopping as one reason Black Friday doesn’t draw the crowds it once did, while others say sales simply aren’t centered on a single day anymore.

“Black Friday is all month now,” said Lisa Spear of Leeds. “It’s nice that they break it up, that way they can spread the wealth around, but before, everything was on sale on Friday.”

But Spear said she prefers shopping in person. On Friday, she got moving around 6:30 a.m., first heading to JCPenny where employees were handing out additional coupons at the door for early risers. By 7:30 a.m., she was in Kohls.

Other locals on Facebook, however, say they have no reason to get up early for Back Friday.

“It is NOTHING like it used to be,” wrote Holly Stacy. “I remember standing out in lines at 4 a.m. in the rain to get a deal that was first come, first serve. Now they start the Black Friday deals a month in advance and the online deals. It takes all the fun and excitement away from the experience, in my opinion.”


Kylie Turner and Colleen Sadak of Poland load up their car Friday morning with deals from Walmart in Auburn. The two shop Black Friday sales each year and plan to return home to empty the car before heading down to South Portland for more shopping. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“Black Friday now just seems like the items that they can’t sell any other months,” said Harmony Millette.

“Never again,” wrote Jeremiah Paine of Auburn. “Small business Saturday for me.”

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, said they expect to see a record 166.3 million shoppers between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, and 114.9 million on Black Friday alone. But as shoppers face rising costs for food, oil and other necessities, some say their holiday shopping budgets will be smaller this year.

Still, while Black Friday is not what it used to be, many Mainers say they made off with great finds Friday morning.

At Walmart, Asha Ivrahim of Lewiston took advantage of sales to buy two iPhones, a tablet and another electronic as presents for her family.

By 8 a.m., Kylie Turner and Colleen Sadak of Poland had already filled their car with Black Friday goods, mostly gifts for their children. Their best find in Walmart was a boy’s bicycle for just $48, the last in stock, beating out another frustrated shopper.

They planned to unload the car back at their home in Poland and head out again to the Maine Mall for more deals.

“You save money, but in the long run it’s just fun,” said Turner, noting she takes off from work every year to shop on Black Friday. “I spend all kinds of money, and then — I have no regrets.”

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