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At least Pandemic ended Thanksgiving Day “Black Friday.” WIZM checks in with La Crosse’s big box stores

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Walmart in Onalaska, on Thanksgiving Day eve.

If there’s one good thing to come from COVID-19, it’s that the big box retailers decided Thanksgiving Day during a pandemic is not the time to be “Black Friday” shopping.

Not really sure why that was ever deemed a good idea but it is not the case this year, at least.

Black Friday might be subdued this year with a lot of the big box stores rolling out deals in increments both in-store and online.

WIZM called a lot of the local big retailers, to ask their expectations for Black Friday. Managers there were nice enough to talk to us, but could not go on the record, often referring us to “corporate.”

All the stores sounded like they were going to adhere to the La Crosse County Health Department’s guidelines to maintain 25% of store capacity.

Asked two weeks ago, if the health department would do any reinforcing to businesses to maintain that capacity limit, director Jen Rombalski essentially said they were done being babysitters.

“This is the message we’ve been sending for several weeks now and the health advisory specific to 25% capacity,” Rombalski said. “We should not have to call every single box door, every single bar, to share this message.

“This is not new. This is just a matter of everyone doing their part, as part of a community, to help make sure that we can change the trajectory that we are headed on right now.”

Each store also sounded like they would have someone at the entrance and exit counting the number of people that entered to stay under capacity.

Depending on the store, that could still be quite a few people. Walmart’s 25% capacity would be around 935people, Target’s is 520, while Dick’s Sporting Goods is about 165 people.

Target is doing a couple unique things to spread people out, as well as get them in and out quicker.

This might be another “thanks pandemic,” as the store will now allow any employee to check customers out with what it’s calling a “MyCheckout” device. While a lot of stores have gone to cashier-less checkouts, Target just did a complete 180.

Target also created a website (target.com/line) to let people see if there is a line outside their local store. If there is a line, they can reserve a spot and Target can let them know when they can enter the store.

That’s been one of the dilemmas in downtown La Crosse with bars keeping with the 25% capacity limits — large lines end up forming just outside the door with little to no social distancing.

If people are going to wait for doors to open, they might not be apt to keep groups six feet apart if a lot of people are in line — fearing someone cuts in. Walmart had about a dozen people wait for one sales event last weekend.

It looks as though most stores in the area have rolled out their Black Friday deals online already. Walmart did its “Black Friday” specials in several increments — the Playstation 5, XBox X sold out in literally 30 seconds online Wednesday evening. Walmart’s last deals coming up at 11 p.m. Thursday online, and 5 a.m. Friday in-store. Others, too, have had week-long runs that end this weekend.

Menards, on the other hand, will begin a 10-day run Friday, but not online. Doors will open at 6 a.m. for Black Friday specials, and the prices will be good for 10 days — but only while supplies last.