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Black Friday shopping rush not as fierce in Sonoma County

  • Brian McBride nods off on the back of his wife Christina during Black Friday during a day of shopping at the Santa Rosa Plaza, Friday Nov. 29, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Black Friday is notorious for its long lines, giant crowds and frenzied shoppers.

But this year, it seemed the pressure had eased a bit in Sonoma County, perhaps released Thanksgiving evening when many stores opened a day early.

For nearly a decade, the Friday after Thanksgiving was the official start of the Christmas shopping season. It became known as Black Friday to mark when retailers turned a profit, or moved out of the red and into the black.

Black Friday Shopping in Sonoma County, Across U.S.


But a few years ago, store chains began opening on Thanksgiving in an effort to grow profits.

Santa Rosa Plaza opened at 8 p.m. Thursday, four hours earlier than last year. Target threw open its doors at 8 p.m. too, an hour earlier than last year. Coddingtown Mall also welcomed shoppers Thursday night, as did large retailers including Old Navy, Toys R Us and Best Buy.

Some have protested stores opening on Thanksgiving, saying it is unfair to workers.

The Walmart Workers Support Group and Occupy Santa Rosa held a protest late Friday morning outside the Rohnert Park Walmart. The goal, they said, was to draw attention to the mistreatment of workers at large retail chains.

At 1 p.m., about 15 protesters stood outside, waving signs.

"We're here because, of all the large companies, Walmart is the worst to its workers," said Dana Bellweather. She said they were holding the event on Black Friday because it was when the most people would see their signs.

Several Walmart employees interviewed, who would not give their names, said Thursday night had been the busiest time so far. Friday morning started out more quietly, they said.

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