The cash registers were singing and merchandise was flying off the shelves as holiday shoppers hit the stores in search of the perfect holiday gift.

Cheryl Crum and her daughter Tracey Crum hit the stores bright and early Friday in search of the best deals.

“I always do this,” Cheryl Crum said. “It is a tradition; and even though I was so tired and did not want to do it, I just could not break the tradition.”

Her daughter agreed.

“I came 315 miles from Hot Springs, Ark. to eat turkey and dressing and to shop,” Tracey Crum said.

Cheryl Crum was shopping for 20 people this year and had a mound of merchandise piled on the counter at JC Penney.

“This is a yearly ritual, I get my Penney’s card paid off just in time to charge more on it for Christmas gifts,” Cheryl Crum said laughing.

For others this was their first time to venture out on the Friday after Thanksgiving to take advantage of the good deals.

“This is my first time to shop after Thanksgiving in Texas,” said Jean Sherrod of Palestine.

The Sherrod family recently moved from Florida and they were looking for some great deals.

“We have no cold weather clothing,” Sherrod said. “We are shopping for warm clothing, in addition to looking for great deals.”

Sherrod said the deals are out there if shoppers are willing to put the time and effort into going after them.

But what her family really wants for Christmas is the safe return of her son, Spc. Christopher Barnhart.

“He is scheduled to come home from Baghdad in January,” Sherrod said. “We are hoping that stays the same.”

Shoppers at Goodies were lined up nearly to the back of the store to purchase the items selected with care.

“Business has been very good,” said Brent Matle, Goody’s store manager. “We opened at 5 a.m. and have been busy all day.”

The hot items crossing the checkout counter were fleece throws, luggage, crystal, blankets and Christmas items.

At Bealls, assistant store manager Teresia Coker saw a change in the shopping habits of the customers.

“They are shopping smarter this year,” she said. “They are purchasing lots of clothing.”

Bealls Manager Patty Palmer said sales were on track to meet this year’s goals.

“We are seeing a lot of shoe, leather jackets, and jewelry purchased today,” she said. “We are really crowded and have a lot of merchandise packed in the store, but that will change next year.”

Palmer said the old Brooshire’s Food Store location in the Palestine Plaza will be renovated and Bealls will move in hopefully by March.

“We will have an additional 11,000 square feet of space for our customers to shop,” she said. “We will be ready for them next year.”

Still, the shoppers did not seem to mind the clothing racks crowded together as they look for the perfect item.

“Me and my girl friends and in-laws come to Bealls every year on the day after Thanksgiving for the great bargains,” said Felicia Gardner of Palestine. “It is our tradition to get together and shop.”

High on Gardner’s list this year was suede leather jacket.

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