Many stores open at 5 a.m., and giant herds of customers show up before dawn to try their luck. Carolyn Bland is one of those eager customers in Trigg County who have made a tradition of heading to Paducah hours before the sun comes up and spending the day shopping. Last week she and a few family members carried on that yearly ritual.
Bland’s gang of shoppers varies slightly from year to year, but her sister, Brenda Ledford, and Bland’s daughter, Beth Taylor, almost always go. Ledford’s daughters, Carla Choate and Kelli Hooks, are also brave enough to make the trip, and so is their cousin, Mary Pfeufer. The crew had one new addition this year: Taylor’s daughter, Mallory.
Bland said that her sister, Robin Stagner, went with them one year but swore she would never do it again.
Every Thanksgiving, Bland picks up a copy of the Paducah Sun and pours through the stacks of advertisements contained inside. She tries to make a list of which family members she is shopping for and plans her trip as meticulously as she can. Of course, once she arrives amidst the chaos in the mall, she usually has to improvise a bit. This year, the seven shoppers left Cadiz at about 3:30 a.m., arriving at Paducah’s Kentucky Oaks Mall at about 4:20. The trip is not for the casual shopper, Bland said.
“You’ve got to be up for the hunt,” she said a couple of days prior to the journey. “I can scarcely go to bed the night before, I’m so keyed up.”
Bland said there are a couple of rules she tries to stick to so the experience is as productive as possible. She usually uses a debit card or cash so she won’t have to sign a receipt. Another important thing is to carry the smallest purse you can so you can move faster.
“You don’t want anything that will bind you,” she said.
Once the gang arrived at the mall last week, they split into smaller groups. Beth and Mallory made their first stop at Circuit City. Ledford and Hooks went off on their own in the mall, as did Choate and Pfeufer. With no one to tie her down, Bland was able to move stealthily through the stores.
Bland spent much of her morning at Elder Beerman, where the “Door Busters” sale had her excited. Many items were half off, and some of them also had additional rebate offers. The sale was offered from 5 a.m. to one o’clock that afternoon. As she navigated the store, Bland was careful to cut through any section she could and avoid the main aisles of traffic. The item she seemed most excited about was a combination television and radio that could be attached to the underside of kitchen cabinets.
Armed with her Relay for Life tote bag, which was stuffed with ads, Bland approached the stack of merchandise and double-checked the picture to make sure it was what she had been looking for. The retail price was $199.99, marked down to $99.97, with an additional $20 rebate offer. She picked up at the box, looked at it carefully, thought about it for a minute, and finally decided to pick up two more of them.
Inside the store, almost every available checkout was being used. This ensured that wherever one stood, he or she would probably be able to spot a long line somewhere. While standing in line with the three boxes, a woman asked about the TV/radio, which had a seven-inch widescreen that could be folded out on the bottom. The box said the unit could be hooked up to cable, and the woman wondered how that was done.
“I’m going to let my husband figure that out,” Bland said smiling.
Bland asked the clerk to ring up the TV/radios separately in case she needed separate receipts for the rebate. By then, it was a few minutes past 9 a.m. and she began making her third trip that morning out to the car. It was then that she realized she had overextended herself by not taking the goods she had previously purchased to the car already. Not to mention, the handle on her bag broke and she had to hold the package with both arms. Stepping out of his role as an observer, this Cadiz Record reporter had to help her carry her other bags, which he was happy to do.
“Now you know that this is not for the faint of heart,” Bland said laughing as she struggled with the boxes.
While loading the bags into the back of her Chevy Suburban, Bland commented that she should have removed the back seat the way she usually does but had forgotten this year.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.