Die-hard bargain hunters hit the streets early Black Friday morning to take advantage of door-buster sales at area retailers.
Not wanting to lose out on one of a few $399 Sony laptops advertised at Best Buy, Hannah Dudley and Hayden Jensen of Carson City ate their Thanksgiving dinners, then arrived at Best Buy at 6:30 p.m. to camp out overnight in the parking lot of the Topsy Lane shopping
Their dedication paid off, said Dudley, when an employee went outside to hand out tickets to the first people in line, Jensen got what she was after - a laptop for college.
"We were in and out in four minutes," said Dudley.
"They had a lot of fun," said Dudley's mother, Michelle. "And Hayden got a great deal on a computer she'd researched."
At Burlington Coat Factory, dozens of people sorted through the racks and snagged some of the junior jeans for $9.99, and at JCPenney the steep discount of 70 percent off fine jewelry was too hard to pass up for the scores who were outside waiting when the doors opened at 4 a.m.
The aisles at Target were jam-packed with shoppers, with movies and electronics seeming to be the hot-ticket items.
At the Carson City Walmart, Claire Clift said she wasn't out at
5 a.m., but at 7:30 a.m. she was at the checkout paying for six children's winter coats and four bicycles.
The $247 total was a bargain.
"You can't beat that," she said.
She said she got an early start on Thursday when she snagged $160 in toys for $80 from Walgreens.
Come Christmas morning, however, Clift and her husband won't see the joy their gifts bring.
They intend to donate them to Toys for Tots, as they've done for years.
"We don't have any kids," she said with a smile, "but the kid in me wants to shop for kids."
Experts said that, nationally, early reports indicated bigger crowds than last year, with people buying more and even throwing in some items for themselves.
It was an encouraging sign for retailers, which have suffered through a year of sales declines, and perhaps also for the broader economy, which could use a kickstart from consumer spending.
Still, mall operators said more shoppers were sticking to making purchases in cash and debit cards instead of credit.
Worries about jobs clearly were on shoppers' minds. Most people buying for themselves were picking up practical things that were deeply discounted such as pillows, pajamas and coffee makers, according to stores and analysts.
"With the layoff there have been a few cutbacks, but with the great sales they're offering this year, I think it's, overall, going to be a great Christmas for my two granddaughters," said Ernest Bell of Marietta, Ga., who was laid off in April from his job as an information technology support representative and was shopping on Friday.
The nation's retailers ushered in the traditional start of the holiday shopping season with expanded hours and deep discounts in hopes of getting people to spend.
Online, Walmart.com, Amazon.com and other online retailers also grabbed for a piece of the action, pushing deals on Thursday and even earlier in the week. Several large retailers, including Wal-Mart and many Old Navy locations, even opened on Thanksgiving.
Those stores now have to figure out how to keep people coming back through Dec. 25.
Though there were isolated reports of squabbles, the pre-dawn crowds were generally calm. Stores took extra precautions to control the throngs after a Wal-Mart worker on Long Island was trampled to death last year on Black Friday.
- Associated Press contributed to this report.