By Walter Hamilton
5:28 PM PST, November 22, 2012
Turkey, stuffing - and a $97 TV if you could wake up in time.
This may not have been the Pilgrims' idea of Thanksgiving, but they never got door-buster price discounts.
For shoppers who just couldn't wait until Black Friday, many retailers opened their doors Thanksgiving Day.
The sales weren't quite as glorious as the Black Friday specials that stores promise to roll out late tonight and Friday morning. But they were pretty good, nonetheless.
JoAnne Garcia walked into Kmart in Burbank in search of a roasting pan in which to cook her turkey. She walked out 90 minutes later, having shelled out $491, including $329 for an 39-inch RCA flat-panel LCD television.
"The roasting pan was $14.99," Garcia said, laughing at how much she spent as she rolled her cart to the parking lot.To the 53-year-old machinist at an aerospace company, shopping on Thanksgiving made perfect sense.
"You get up, throw your turkey in the oven and you come back [after shopping] and it's all done," Garcia said, standing near a store display touting "Freak Out Pricing."
Not everyone was so lucky buying a TV.
Kathy Castillo, a letter carrier from Burbank, planned to wake up at 5 a.m. to get to Kmart by its 6 a.m. opening. But her son unplugged her alarm clock to charge his computer.
The $97 TVs were gone by the time she got to the store, Castillo said.
No worries. She pledged to return tonight to snatch a door-buster TV deal when the store reopens at 8 p.m.
"After I go to my sister's to eat, I'll be back here by 6," Castillo said.
Some people had mixed emotions about shopping on Thanksgiving, put off by the steady encroachment of commercialism on a day that traditionally has been free of it.
"You should keep respecting Thanksgiving for what it is," said Rocio Rodriguez as she and her fiance pushed a cart around Kmart. "I feel bad for the workers who are working today."
Noting the relatively modest salaries of retail employees, she said: "These aren't your $25-an-hour workers.... It's almost like [employers] are taking advantage of the recession. People have to work. They have no choice."
Elena Saenz, a 33-year Kmart veteran who is the store's assistant manager, was philosophical.
"When you work retail, that's part of the job," she said. "And with times being so tough, I'm just thankful to have a job."
Workers are getting paid time-and-a-half today, Saenz said.
Some shoppers were drawn by the lighter crowds compared with the pandemonium that engulf stores on Black Friday.
"Today the parking is easy," said Kartik Sundram, an IT strategy consultant, as he and his wife stuffed several bags with children's clothing at the Gap in Pasadena.
And let's not forget the discounts, which ranged from 20% to 60% at the Gap.
"I'd rather not be shopping today if I could," Sundram said. "But the retailers with their economic bait are drawing us in."
[Full disclosure: After interviewing Gap shoppers, this reporter also succumbed, picking up three pairs of pants and a shirt, all at 40% off.]
Follow Walter Hamilton on Twitter @LATwalter
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