While some people spend Thanksgiving Day preparing a lavish meal, others are scouring the newspaper looking for the best shopping deals and planning their strategy for Black Friday.

Many of the major malls in Jackson Township and North Canton were packed full starting early in the morning the day after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. Black Friday. Belden Village mall was parked full at the Everhard Road entrance. Some parking spaces could be found at the Sears entrance.

The Target, Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods plaza had lines of traffic trying to enter and lines of traffic trying to leave. The parking lot was full. Many people were parking along the curbed no parking areas.

The Strip was parked full in the Best Buy, OfficeMax areas. Around 10:30 a.m., Old Navy had a line of people at the door trying to get into the store. Several people standing in line said the store was only letting in a limited number of people at one time. Store employees wouldn’t comment on why there was a line.

Margo Burns and her mother Therese are both from North Canton. They were loading their Old Navy packages into their car before going to lunch.

"There wasn’t a line when we got here but the story was very busy inside," Burns said. "We didn’t really come out today for Black Friday shopping. My mom had a gift card for Old Navy that is going to expire tomorrow so we came out to spend the gift card and to get some lunch."

Stores in the Stein Mart, Earth Fare plaza had a steady stream of shoppers going in and out of the many retail stores and eateries. Most shoppers coming out had their hands full of shopping bags. 

The internet provides a number of explanations for the phenomenon that encourages thousands of people to fight traffic and converge upon local shopping malls to find the best shopping deals of the season on Black Friday.

According to wonderopolis.org, Black Friday started in the Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. It was called Black Friday by local bus drivers and police there because of the heavy traffic that clogged the city’s streets the day after Thanksgiving.

Starting in the 1980s, businesses gave it a more positive spin and associated the day with being the first day of the year that retailers began to show a profit for the year. Regardless of the definition, it’s the day that most retailers open their doors early and offer some of the lowest prices of the year.

Businesses in Stark County prepare for Black Friday every year just like other cities across the U.S. Locally owned smaller businesses have also joined others across the country for Small Business Saturday when shoppers are encouraged to shop independent retailers for special deals.

Collyn Floyd, director of marketing and public relations for the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an email that many area small businesses plan for Small Business Saturday every year. He encourages people to shop locally for holiday deals.

"Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for local residents to discover the wide array of small businesses that serve as the backbone of our business community," Floyd wrote. "Shoppers can find unique gift ideas from our independent art galleries, vintage stores, clothing boutiques, restaurants and more, while helping boost the local economy."

North Canton Chamber of Commerce President Doug Lane wrote in an email that retailers in North Canton are looking forward to a busy holiday shopping season.

"A spot check of many of our retailers on Saturday showed that business was brisk and they are looking forward to a strong shopping season this year," Lane wrote. "Our local businesses support our city services, schools, athletics, community events and more and it was reassuring to see the community come out and support the independents and other businesses on Small Business Saturday." 

Online retailers got in on the action by offering a variety of discounts on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Amazon, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Best Buy and eBay were all offering discounts and special pricing for those who didn’t want to get up early or leave their families to go shop over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

All three of the special shopping days end up a win-win for everyone. Retailers sell lots of product and give a boost to local economies while shoppers find lots of great prices and save more than a few bucks.