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Updated: November 23, 2012 7:46PM



JOLIET — The sun appeared to be setting on Black Friday by sunrise.

Thanksgiving night store hours at many big-box discounters along with midnight openings at Louis Joliet Mall meant there was not much energy left in the most enthusiastic shoppers by daylight.

Still, many all-night shoppers came out for a second round at places like JCPenney, which opened at 6 a.m. and created a new opportunity for bargain hunters.

Shannon Vance of Lockport said she and her co-shoppers took a “power nap” after going through five stores during the night before starting again at 5 a.m. for the Menards opening.

“It’s nice this year having it all spread out,” said Vance, while standing in a long line at JCPenney. “People aren’t rushing.”

“We’re almost done,” said Vance’s sister-in-law, Erin French of Lockport.

French seemed to speak for many.

While JCPenney was still busy in its first two hours of business for the day, the foot traffic at the mall by 8 a.m. resembled what might be an ordinary Saturday morning, rather the traditional start of the shopping season.

Mall Manager Kate Knuth said it was a lot different at midnight when most of the stores opened at Louis Joliet Mall.

“A lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation for the stores to be open,” Knuth said, noting there were lines at several stores. “Macy’s did fantastic.”

Even traffic at the Walmart on Jefferson Street was petering out by 9 a.m.

Protesters from Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice showed up at that time to make a point about pay and working conditions at Walmart. By then, the Walmart parking lot was about half-empty.

A bitter wind created freezing conditions for the protesters, who said they planned to stay for two hours.

“The people need to speak up to multibillionaires and let them know they can pay their workers more money,” said protester Joe Stupec. “Today is the day to get their attention.”

About 25 protesters were at the Jefferson Street entrance to the shopping center that includes Walmart.

That Walmart and others were getting more attention 13 hours earlier when the they began Black Friday bargains.

Keith Flynn of Crest Hill said he started standing in line at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Walmart in Romeoville for a heavily discounted DVD player that went for sale at the reduced price at 8 p.m.

Flynn and wife Terry Miller-Flynn said they left the Thanksgiving table at 5 p.m. to start shopping, which, they noted, has become a “tradition” for them.

“You make a lot of friends on Black Friday,” said Miller-Flynn, noting shoppers tend to cooperate rather than fight with each other in the bargain hunt.

While the scene at Walmarts and other stores that opened Thursday night may have shown that shoppers will come whenever the bargains start, Kevin Flynn did say there was some grumbling in the line at Walmart.

“When I was in line people were complaining about it,” he said. “They had to leave their Thanksgiving dinner early.”

Mark Strand, store manager at the JCPenney in Joliet, said employees there did appreciate having the store open at 6 a.m. Friday rather than the night before. Not only that, the long lines showed customers came out, too.

“It’s starting out strong,” Strand said.



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