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Sisters of the Sale: Friends celebrate 30 years of Black Friday shopping

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, November 24, 2018
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Ready Set Shop

READY, SET, SHOP – Decatur residents Kaci Elder, Rayanna Terrell, Leah Pitts and Lisa Heiens, otherwise known at the ’80s Ladies’ have embarked on Black Friday shopping trips since 1988. Messenger photo by Austin Jackson

While videos of storefront tramplings and fights over 4K TVs will surely go viral again this Black Friday, for one quartet of Decatur High grads the day is about more than just deals.

On Friday morning, starting at 5 a.m., Kaci Elder, Leah Pitts, Rayanna Terrell and Lisa Heiens, who identify as “the ’80s ladies,” will be on the Black Friday frontlines, venturing back into the retail abyss of shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

THE SPOILS OF SHOPPING – Decatur residents Kaci Elder, Rayanna Terrell, Leah Pitts and Lisa Heiens often fill up an SUV with their finds after a full day of Black Friday shopping. They meet up at 5 a.m. and usually don’t stop shopping until around 10 p.m. Submitted photo

This Black Friday will mark the 30th straight year for the friends to make their pilgrimage to Fort Worth and return to Decatur with an SUV full of bags and gifts

It’s a tradition, one that has brought the high school friends together year after year, despite lives getting busier and kids growing older.

It started with the desire to reap the giveaways and discounts they scouted out in ads and circulars leading up to the holidays. Heiens said the tradition has grown beyond savings.

“It’s not just about the deals,” she explained. “It’s about camaraderie and laughter. It’s a chance to be with each other – our best friends.”

The four have been best friends since high school, and after college they all gravitated back into each others’ lives.

One way they keep the friendship going, besides their very active group chat, is hanging out and observing the time-honored tradition of Black Friday shopping.

They wear matching T-shirts, wake up early and spend all day together.

Their kids know that come Black Friday, that mom will be doing what they’ve done for the past 30 years. Finding deals in a full-throttle, 16-hour shopping extravaganza.

“Black Friday is sacred,” Leah Pitts said. “They know.”

The day starts at 6 a.m. and generally ends around 10 p.m. for the ’80s ladies.

When the tradition began in 1988, Black Friday was different for the Decaturites.

Team Effort

TEAM EFFORT – Decatur residents Kaci Elder, Rayanna Terrell, Leah Pitts and Lisa Heiens went Black Friday shopping for the 30th straight time on Friday. Last year, they made T-shirts to coordinate the team effort. Submitted photo

“When it started, none of us had kids,” Elder said. “We went for the free gifts but not really lists. But when we started having kids, we did have lists. It was a mission inside the stores. What I remember is if we found something good, we all got one.”

When they arrive to a store, Terrell said the ladies split up to divide and conquer, seeking maximum efficiency after waiting in the long lines. Three will head out as scouts, as one stays at the cart.

“We divide up and go to different areas, then one person held the cart,” Elder said. “Everybody came back with four of what they got. Then we decide what we’re keeping.”

Some Christmases, the kids all got Casio keyboards. Other years Shark steam cleaners were the must-get item that all ended up in the back of the SUV. Last year it was mascara.

Over the years, headroom has been compromised by TVs and exercise bikes in the back. It’s part of the journey.

Pitts said the long lines and stampedes have dissipated recently thanks to stores opening up at midnight on Thanksgiving and online shopping.

But there’s still plenty of people to see on Black Friday.

“The people watching is top notch,” Pitts said.

This year, with most of the ’80s ladies’ kids in or near college age, they aren’t going to be searching for anything in particular.

They’ll be shopping for themselves as much as anyone else. But the original spirit of their post-Thanksgiving tradition will continue.

Maybe for another 30 years.

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