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Black Friday, Thanksgiving overlap grows

When Black Friday comes

I'll collect everything I'm owed

And before my friends find out I'll be on the road

Steely Dan lyrics to song "Black Friday"

FARGO - The line between the holidays and holiday shopping will get fuzzy next week when many stores open at midnight Thanksgiving Day in hopes of luring their share of the bargain-hunting hordes traditionally unleashed on Black Friday.

Walmart is going a step further.

Area Walmarts will be open all day Thanksgiving Day, with Black Friday specials kicking in at 10 p.m.

Last year, about 10 stores in West Acres Shopping Center were among the first in the area to go with a midnight opening on Thanksgiving Day, and the number has "blossomed" to about 25 this year, said Rusty Papachek, the mall's general manger.

West Acres will open its doors at 11 p.m. Thursday, and it's possible some stores will have "soft" openings before the official midnight start, Papachek said

"It's one of those things. Once you do it and you have some success, then they follow up the next year," said Papachek, referring to the inexorable expansion of Black Friday shopping.

Last year, Fargo's Best Buy store opened at 5 a.m. on the Friday following Thanksgiving.

This year, Best Buy is opening at midnight Thursday, with employees asked to report several hours ahead of time to get things ready for the crush.

The unorthodox hours have created "a little angst in the system," said Kent Esterby, the store's general manager. Some workers have asked if they can work a more normal shift, he said.

But, he added, other employees are fine with the change. Esterby said that when he announced the midnight starting time to one group of workers, he received a standing ovation.

"It's an exciting day to work here," he said.

In a written statement, Walmart said it is starting Black Friday specials earlier than ever because customers are watching every penny this year and the store wants to help people plan ahead so they can focus on Christmas and their families.

Other large stores in the area that will be opening at midnight on Thursday besides Best Buy include: Target, Macy's, Herberger's and Kohl's.

A Target employee in Omaha, Neb., Anthony Hardwick, recently garnered national attention after posting a petition online at asking people to pressure Target to push its Black Friday opening time to 5 a.m.

Hardwick, a part-time cart attendant, said opening at midnight means employees will have less Thanksgiving time together because they will want to rest during the day in order to be ready for their overnight shift.

The petition, which started Nov. 3, had more than 150,000 signatures by Wednesday.

Minneapolis-based Target said the midnight opening is a response to customer demands.

In years past, consumers anticipating great deals have camped out in front of stores, including Fargo's Best Buy.

Esterby said the Fargo Best Buy expects more of the same this coming week, and the store is prepared.

"This year we're going to have Porta-Potties for them," he said, adding that police are aware of the situation and will do periodic checks on how things are going.

"We always make sure it's a very safe environment," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555.

This report contains some information from the Associated Press.