"The early bird gets the goods," read a Macy's ad in Thursday's newspaper, and with that philosophy in mind, droves of people turned out at Augusta's retail stores in Friday's predawn hours, snatching up toys, electronics and other loot within minutes of doors opening.
"It's how you get in the Christmas spirit," said Augusta resident Carletta McGruder, 44, who was shopping at Circuit City. "It's the atmosphere. Everybody's shopping."
At Augusta Mall, a line of more than 250 people extended from Sears' rear door by 5:30 a.m. Draped in winter coats, some sipped coffee from to-go cups, some flipped through glossy newspaper ad sections and some particularly dedicated shoppers sat in canopied fold-out chairs. Crowds also gathered outside JCPenney, Macy's and Toys "R" Us, waiting for doors to open at 5 and 6 a.m.
At JCPenney, the doors opened 15 minutes early, and dozens of people poured in. Each was handed a complimentary snow globe.
Within minutes, Larry Baughman was among the first back out the door, heading to his car with a shopping bag at his side. He said he was heading home, having bought two electric blankets - the second one for a dollar.
"I just get up early anyway, and I figured I'd beat the crowd," said Mr. Baughman, 56, of North Augusta.
The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday because it's the day retailers supposedly move from the red into the black, kicks off the Christmas shopping season in a frenzy of consumerism. Part a die-hard tradition, part materialism and part a genuine shot at limited-time sales, a lot of people who venture out on one of the busiest shopping days of the year say they do it for the excitement.
"It's my anniversary today, and I left my husband, the man I love, in bed to come here," said Graniteville resident Candy Harris, 37, who was shopping at Circuit City.
Not everybody who hit the store, though, was shopping for someone else.
"I want an iPod MP3 player," said 15-year-old LaSwann Brown, of Augusta. "I run, and I want something to listen to while I run."
Staff Writer Adam Folk contributed to this article.
Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Out to save
People across the U.S. jammed stores early Friday, seeking coveted, limited-quantity bargains.
Bigger than last year: Major retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; and Macy's estimated they drew bigger crowds for the official holiday season launch compared with last year.
Big sellers: Consumer electronics, including MP3 players, laptop computers and even pricey flat-screen TVs, were the main attraction, but apparel also fared well, helped by the arrival of frigid weather in many parts of the country, according to Marshal Cohen, an analyst at market research firm NPD Group Inc.
Toys: No single standout was reported, and popular items included electronics-laced items such as Hasbro Inc.'s Idog, Fisher-Price's Dora the Explorer's Talking Kitchen and Zizzle Inc.'s iZ, said John Barbour, the president of Toys "R" Us' U.S. division.
- Associated Press
What shoppers had to say about their experiences on Black Friday in the Augusta area.
"I love this day. I love the crowds. I love the traffic. The line was only about 45 minutes long, but we went through it twice."
- Jennifer Crow
"It's my anniversary today and I left my husband, the man I love, in bed to come here."
- Candy Harris
"We drive around for an hour and laugh at everybody in line.''
- Tammy Groomes
"It's easier if you have willing participants in the household. You send one here and one there."
- Pam Sowell
"The shopping carts are too small."
- Stacey Sprague
" It's how you get in the Christmas spirit."
- Carletta McGruder
"I usually work this day, but I changed my customers around, and I'm going to work tomorrow at the beauty shop."
- Barbara Snipes
"We have house guests from Sarasota, so we couldn't do the 5 a.m. thing ... I wouldn't do it anyway."
- Barbara Sullivan
"I am not going to stand in line for two hours. They will have other sales.''
- Cindy Boudreau
"I got a houseful of appliances down at Sears. You can't beat 20 percent off. I'm waiting for the wife now."
- Larry Hicks
"Just being in the crowd."
- Ronnie Walker
"I've seen other families bickering with one another."
- Roberta Cothran
"It's kind of comical watching some of the people."
- Dwight Wilson
"We're out browsing, hoping that by chance we might hit on some perfect Christmas gifts."
- Joyce Heinemeyer
"I'm just trying to get done before 12 o'clock when the sales end."
- Chris Fulmer
"We're going to have margaritas and go again."
- Candy Sprague
- Compiled by staff writers Adam Folk, Betsy Gilliland, Preston Sparks and Donnie Fetter