‘It’s different’: Short lines, no crowds for dozens of shoppers this Black Friday

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Shoppers come out to Academy Sports + Outdoors for Black Friday. (Photo: WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Despite the push to shop online this year, some big name stores in Wilmington opened their doors early Friday morning.

It wasn’t the shopping frenzy it usually is, but dozens of shoppers came out to Academy Sports bright and early on Black Friday.

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“We didn’t expect to be first in line at all,” shoppers Chris Dubois and Jonathon Cain said. “I was expecting a line at the door to pull up to honestly, but whenever I pulled up, there was nobody here.”

It was a slow start Friday morning. Around 4:30 a.m. there were just a few cars outside the store.

“I’d probably be out waiting in line if there was a line, but no one here right now,” shopper Brandon Gore said.

By the time Academy Sports opened at 5 a.m., people had started to line up in a socially distanced fashion outside. As to be expected, Black Friday during a pandemic looked different than it usually does.

“Oh, it’s different because of the number of people in the store,” shoppers Sharon and George Oed said. “They’re really watching who’s in, who’s out.”

Some shoppers were happy to see fewer people, saying that’s exactly why they came out this year.

“Luckily it’s not as busy this year. A lot of people are staying home because of it, so we knew it wouldn’t be as packed as it normally would be.”

Other shoppers come shopping on Black Friday every year, and wanted to keep the tradition alive.

“Primarily as a tradition, because we’ve done it every year,” the Oeds said. “We realize with the pandemic, it’s totally different. We’re just making the rounds. Seeing what’s out there.”

Some people came in search of things they haven’t been able to find over the last several months, hoping to stock up.

“I really just wanted to get out here to get some ammo for hunting season, and with everything being in short supply right now, I’m just hoping to get some good deals on it,” Gore said.

“We really didn’t need anything, but  we go to stores because they tell us what we need when they don’t think we need it,” the Oeds said.

Academy Sport tried to make Black Friday COVID-friendly this year. Shopping carts were wiped down in between each use, and wipes were also at the front entrance for shoppers to grab.

Masks are required inside the store, and employees had extra masks at the front in case anyone forgot.

“The stores are being real careful, and we try to be real careful too,” the Oeds said. “I feel comfortable.”

Inside the store, there were line markers to keep people distanced and moving in one direction.

“The pandemic doesn’t really bother us at all,” DuBois said. Obviously, we’re going to follow the guidelines and wear a mask, but we’re going to go about our day and do our thing.”

Masks are required in all indoor spaces statewide. Each store has its own safety policy.