The Emersons’ League City home is stripped down to its frame after flooding from Hurricane Harvey inundated it in late August.
In the days and weeks after the storm, most of the contents of their home piled up in the front yard, ruined by the several feet of water that had rushed into the home.
On Thursday, Rose Emerson and her daughter, Michelle Emerson, were on a mission to replace some of those destroyed items with holiday sales. The Emersons lined up early at the J.C. Penney in League City before the 2 p.m. opening.
“We’re looking for mattresses, appliances, pots and pans, tile, just about everything,” Michelle Emerson said.
With the house still under renovation, they’d have to store most of the items until moving back in, they said. But the upheaval hadn’t totally ruined the holiday. The women had plans to join friends for Thanksgiving dinner after shopping, they said.
“We’re lucky to have such good friends,” Rose Emerson said. “They let us stay with them for a month after the storm and have invited us over for the holidays.”
And despite being immersed in months of recovery, they were keeping with the holiday spirit of being thankful.
“There are times I’ve wanted to get upset, but my husband and daughter won’t let me,” Rose Emerson said. “I’d start whimpering, and they’d say ‘Stop it.’”
“There’s nothing you can do about it — and it doesn’t change anything — so there’s no point in getting sad,” Michelle Emerson said.
The Emersons were among hundreds of people lined up to hunt for bargains. Where people once took to the stores on Black Friday — historically the biggest shopping day of the year — many retailers are now opening on Thursday.
J.C. Penney opened at 2 p.m. and planned to stay open throughout the night, said Suzanne Quinones, general manager at JCPenney in Victory Lakes. Between 30-40 staff members had arrived between noon and 2 p.m. Thursday after days of preparation for the big shopping event, she said.
Some customers had beat them to the store. Martha Salinas of Galveston arrived at 8 a.m. to be the first in line, she said. It was her first time shopping on Thanksgiving, she said.
“I’m looking mostly for kids’ stuff — pajamas and other presents,” Salinas said.
The shopping extravaganza hadn’t changed her Thanksgiving plans, which she would celebrate Thursday night, she said.
As opening approached, Quinones and other employers were getting into their positions.
“Let’s do this,” Quinones told employees over walkie-talkies.
As the store opened, shoppers filed in. Where holiday shopping has at times led to brawls or even stampedes around the country, the shoppers Thursday walked in calmly, picking up coupons and surveying the sales.
Market-watchers predicted higher sales compared to last year before the holidays.
Increasingly, online and brick-and-mortar retailers have been trying to extend the holiday shopping season with some big names, such as Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart, offering deals throughout November in a countdown to Black Friday, said Lauren Lyons Cole, a certified financial planner who follows retail.
Cole predicted retail sales will be up about 3 percent — $680 billion — this holiday season over last year, which she attributed to consumer confidence in the market, she said. Online shopping will likely reach a new record of making up more than 11 percent of weekend shopping, Cole said.