KAHULUI - Thanksgiving Day shoppers said they would rather be home with family and friends on the special holiday, but the deals at stores were too good to pass up.
"It would be nice to spend time with your family than be here in this chaos," said Cyndee Navarro of Wailuku, who was poised to buy toys with hundreds of others at Wal-Mart at 6 p.m. Thursday.
But she said she had to come out and shop, as the deals were too good to pass up. She added that even though the sales occurred during Thanksgiving dinner, some families cannot otherwise afford to buy big-ticket items such as televisions so the crowds still showed up.
Early Thanksgiving evening, people walk through a maze of barriers to enter the Wal-Mart store in Kahului. By 6 p.m. Thursday, a line of people snaked through the barriers as customers waited to get into the store.
The Maui News/Melissa Tanji photo
Navarro's relative had stronger views of shopping on Thanksgiving but agreed that she wanted to stretch her dollar more.
"The whole value of Thanksgiving is lost," said Amber Gonsalves of Wailuku, who with Navarro wished that sales were kept to the Friday after.
Antonette Kapalu of Wailuku said that the earlier opening times for stores Thanksgiving night took away from some family time even though her family had a Thanksgiving lunch.
"Too early," she said of the Wal-Mart sale. "It does cut into family time."
"It's no longer going to be Black Friday, it's going to be Black Thursday," she said as she waited for $9.97 kids crafts kits that included those featuring Hello Kitty.
"(It) saves you money, especially on Maui," she said.
Kmart and Wal-Mart opened at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. But Wal-Mart's special sales didn't begin until Thursday evening. People also kept Kmart busy during Thanksgiving Day as they shopped sales at that store.
Some stores at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center were also poised to open at 8 p.m. with special sales all night and into this morning.
Andrea Pagampao of Wailuku had waited at Wal-Mart since 1 p.m. Thursday to get her daughter a $50 Little Tikes kitchen that she said retailed normally for at least $100.
"I'm not one to celebrate (Thanksgiving)," she said, but she added that she does take time to reflect on the day.
Pagampao said she would be making it to Thanksgiving dinner, as the item she wanted was on sale at 6 p.m.
"I'll get this and I'm out," she said of her daughter's toy.
Lei Pacheco-Teeter of Kahului also came to Wal-Mart early at 2:30 p.m. Thursday to make sure she could get a PS4 System game set.
She was the first to get a special wristband that guaranteed her a PS4. She was also waiting for $9.97 crafts kits.
By 5:15 p.m. Thursday, both the Wal-Mart and nearby Home Depot parking lots were full. Home Depot wasn't open Thursday, but Wal-Mart shoppers took over the lot and parked along roadways leading to the store.
Around 5:30 p.m., shoppers still were able to get into the store. But by 6 p.m., a line had formed outside with people waiting.
According to the National Retail Federation, around 33 million consumers were expected to buy Christmas gifts on Thanksgiving Day.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.