Customers split time Thanksgiving Day between dinner tables and discounts, as the thrill of deals brought holiday shoppers out to Longview stores.

More than two dozen East Texans waited in line outside Target two hours before the retailer opened Thursday, chasing 50% off certain toys and specials on electronics.

Jacob Marquez, 18, brought his younger brother, David Marquez, 14, from their Winnsboro home to save money on a new TV.

“I saw a deal — $180 for a 50-inch 4K Ultra,” Jacob Marquez said.

It was his first time shopping on Thanksgiving Day, but other shoppers, such as Shari Covin of Diana and Sharena Johnson and Jamie Irvine, both of Longview, were among many with previous holiday shopping experience.

“I get here first,” Johnson said of her usual Thanksgiving Day shopping strategy. She was waiting in line with Irvine to get a Sony PlayStation at 50% off.

“I’ve already been in the store. I know where everything is, so I’m just going to hurry in and get to the register,” Johnson said.

Irvine, who normally shops on holidays in the Dallas area, called the wait Thursday calmer than the last Thanksgiving he spent at Longview retailers.

“I did this two years ago,” Irvine said, “and I got here at 9 in the morning waiting for them to open at 9 that night. There were already people here waiting before me, so this time, we came by right before 12 and nobody was here, so I was surprised.”

Covin ate Thanksgiving Day lunch then came to wait outside Target to buy two Beats headphones — one for her daughter and one for her — for $129.99 each, which was a $170 discount apiece.

“They were on her Christmas list,” Covin said, adding that she also was looking for a half-priced toy for her grandchild.

When Drina Russell of Longview woke up Thanksgiving morning, she and her fiance, Edgar Mendoza, immediately went to Big Lots, one of the few stores that were open as early as 7 a.m.

“All of our family is spending (Thanksgiving) everywhere else. We’re going to do it on the weekend,” Russell said. “I saw 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., so I thought (Big Lots) is the only place open, so I rolled out of bed.”

Russell has shopped on previous Thanksgiving days, though usually at Walmart.

She hadn’t seen any advertisement circulars, so she and Mendoza walked the store aisles Thursday in search of surprise deals.

“I work 11 hours a day, five days a week, so when I get any time off, I’m going to use it,” Russell said.

As for any tactics she uses to find the best holiday deals, Russell said it depends on “if I get the newspaper, but that’s what I need to go get.”

Big Lots Service Lead Manager Jenny Boudreaux described customer traffic Thursday morning as “great, absolutely great.” Customers were mostly in search of specific deals for the day.

“We have three days of deals, so they’re looking for Thursday deals, which is the recliners,” Boudreaux said. “We have a lot of recliners on sale.”

Sales on recliners attracted Jason Llewellyn from his home in Pittsburg to the Longview retailer. He walked right up to the Big Lots furniture department and found the chocolate microfiber recliner on sale for $199 and was ready to check out within seconds.

“I’ve got some furniture that matches something similar to that,” Llewellyn said. “I just saw that they had some recliners on sale for $199 here that look sort of similar to what we have now, because on mine in the footrest, there’s a bar that’s broke and hard to pull down.”

Llewellyn made the 35-mile trip, he said, because the only thing open in Pittsburg on Thanksgiving Day were fast-food restaurants, and he really needed to replace his recliner of seven years.

“If you don’t watch yourself and you lay back too far, that sucker will turn you upside down, especially when the kids get in there with you and climb too high on that chair,” he said.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of consumers already have started their holiday shopping, and a nearly a quarter of purchases already have been made.

The federation estimates that 165.3 million people will shop in stores and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday and that consumers plan to spend a total of $1,048 on average for items such as decorations, candy and gifts as well as other purchases for themselves and their families.

Boudreaux advised customers on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season to be kind and courteous.

“Just be safe. Really, watch out for other people,” Boudreaux said. “That’s my best advice is to be kind and courteous, because a lot of people are out there working on those days, and people get frustrated easily. So be kind and courteous.”

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.  

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