To the delight of retailers, Carson City residents started shopping for Christmas before 6 a.m. Friday, lining up along the sidewalks at Target and J.C. Penney for post-Thanksgiving bargains.
Few merchants were complaining as the Christmas rush began, Carson City style.
"Target opened at 7 a.m. Friday, but people started lining up at 5:30," said store manager Paul Mulig. "The line extended the full length of the sidewalk. Our employees couldn't even find parking spots."
Despite the crowds, Mulig said people were mellow and didn't seem as anxious this year. Mike Wiley, store manager at J.C. Penney, agreed.
"The customers are very polite," he said. "They don't seem to mind standing in line for a purchase. It's a better crowd than normal."
"They know what they want, and they're going after it," Mulig said. "Everyone is very pleasant, in the holiday spirit."
He said Target customers come from as far away as Virginia City, Fernley and Mammoth to avoid the Reno crowds. Popular big-ticket items included electronics, like VCRs and TVs, and ready-to-assemble furniture and home decor items.
"I think people plan on staying home with their families this year," Mulig said. "Perhaps the threat of war has hit home."
Business was brisk at Gottschalks. Store manager Sue St. Marie also said home decor items were doing well.
"Down comforters and small, kitchen appliances are some of our hottest items," she said. "But sweaters, fashion jewelry and intimate apparel are also going fast."
St. Marie said business picks up the second or third week of November, increasing right up to Christmas.
At J.C. Penney, the pattern is slightly different.
"The day after Thanksgiving gets the publicity, but Dec. 23 is always our busiest," Wiley said. "That must be when the guys start to shop."
Leather and jewelry were the hot items at Penney, particularly winter leather coats.
Wiley credits Friday's success, in part, to some very good ads.
"The value in this year's circular is the best we've every had," he said.
At Lowe's in South Carson City, the day began a little more slowly, according to store manager James Rushing.
"We usually pick up after the early morning super sales end," he said. "People shop the department stores and then come to us."
He said the Friday after Thanksgiving is their biggest single day, with business tapering off toward Christmas. Small appliances and tools were in demand Friday. People come in for Christmas trees and decorations a little later.
"We also sell a lot of gift cards, for last-minute gifts," he said.