Dorie Herndon, Black Bird Shopping Center jewelry department manager, is prepared for the Black Hills Gold sale starting at 6:30 a.m. Friday, one of many early-bird opportunities for the truly motivated Christmas shopper on Black Friday. - Bob Pennell

Early birds get the deals

If you're driving around Medford in the wee hours Friday morning, you may notice lines of people — many of whom are jumping up and down to stay warm — wrapped around buildings.

They're not waiting for Rolling Stones concert tickets. They're waiting for hot deals on socks, blenders and tool boxes.

It's the Christmas shopping blitz the day after Thanksgiving, often called Black Friday because it's the day stores go into the black.

Dorie Herndon, manager of the jewelry department at Black Bird Shopping Center, said when the doors open at 6:30 a.m., the crowd rushes in like a river.

"They know exactly where they're going," she said.

The popular items are the Black Hills Gold jewelry, which is a style of jewelry that typically uses pink- and green-tinted gold leaves, she said.

Dozens of Medford stores are offering holiday sales, half-off discounts and coupons steering early-bird shoppers to everything from bare necessities to the year's hottest gifts. Bargain hunters will wait in the cold (sometimes wet) weather for computer, toy and bedding deals. Some of the retailers hand out vouchers to those in line and can be sold out of popular items before the doors even open.

Some stores, such as Home Depot, are open early and offer bargains but aren't expecting the masses that other stores, such as Fred Meyer, see.

Steve McDonald, assistant manager of Home Depot in Phoenix, said the store traditionally doesn't have the huge jump in shoppers the day after Thanksgiving.

"We've got some great deals, though," he said, adding that the store will be open at 6 a.m.

The hot items his store is offering include a drill, saw, radio, flashlight combination kit for $59, a five-drawer rolling tool cabinet for $59.99 and an 18-inch chain saw for $99, he said.

But for those not intimidated by the throngs of grab-it-and-go folks, the department stores are just the place for a variety of bargains.

Herndon said the post-Thanksgiving shoppers know what they want. It's a more desperate crowd that comes in just before Christmas. She refers to their shopping style as "point and pay."

"They're not all that picky at that point," she said.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

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