Each store has its own system, and each customer his/her own story.
Thanksgiving ended early this year, transitioning into retail temptation as several Jefferson City big box stores opened their doors as early as 6 p.m. Thursday. Lines hundreds deep could be seen outside Best Buy and Target, and Walmart didn't have a parking space, or patch of grass, in sight.
What used to mean getting up before the sun to take advantage of doorbuster deals on Black Friday, now means leaving family and food behind to get in line before the sun even goes down.
Front runners at Best Buy, Bill Konen and Ken Luetkemeyer, came out bright and early to score a few electronics at a discounted price. Konen, of Van Buren, arrived before 7 a.m. Thursday, and Luetkemeyer, of Freeburg, quickly followed. The next shoppers filed in around 9 a.m.
Konen said this is his third Black Friday getting in line extra early for doorbuster deals. It was Luetkemeyer's first experience, but he said he has done similar "camp-outs" for concert tickets. The two said they wish the stores wouldn't open up on Thanksgiving, but they'll come for the deals regardless. They said the overall experience was pretty good, with one request for next year. "I'd order more sunshine and 70 degrees," Konen joked.
For one Russellville couple, the first spot in line at Target was secured by claiming their spot a whole day early. Jeannine Garza and her husband, Paul, spent their Thanksgiving Eve, and Thanksgiving Day, lounging in front of the Target entrance. They arrived at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
"We had missed the sales in the past and didn't want to miss this one," Garza said. She was after one of the coveted TVs with a savings of around $300.
Although Garza is a faithful Black Friday shopper, this was her first year to stay overnight, something she said she isn't sure she'll do again. The couple slept for approximately 30 minutes in the 20 hours they were waiting in line. Target wasn't their only stop, either; once the doors were set to open at 8 p.m., the couple planned to stop at Walmart as well. Then, visit Menards today, as the store didn't open until this morning.
The Garzas had to forgo their Thanksgiving with family this year for the sales, but said the experience was worth it.
A few hundred people down the line were mother/daughter duo Brenda Heckman and Miranda Curtis of Meta. Black Friday shopping is a family tradition in their household, and the two were more than ready. They had their ads marked with "must-have" items and planned their attack while waiting in line. Since Target was set to open at 8 p.m., the two waited until around 6 p.m. to get in line. The earlier the shopping, the more it cuts into family time, and the pair expressed their desire for the stores to go back to opening early on Friday.
"I don't like it at all," Curtis said. "I wish they would open later."
Curtis said she usually "starts and finishes" her Christmas shopping on Black Friday, and isn't about to miss the deals.
"We'll be going all night," Heckman noted.
In front of the mother/daughter duo were two Helias seniors. Friendly banter with those around them about what items they came for ensued.
Sam Kroeger and Austin Luebbert, both of Jefferson City, were passing the time in line by playing "Hedbanz" on Luebbert's smartphone. Kroeger came for a TV, Luebbert for the fun of it.
Kroeger has come in years past, but this was his first with a set item in mind.
"I'm kind of nervous," he said of having to rush through the store in order to find his item. "Also, I should have brought gloves."
Neither teenager said the Black Friday shopping interfered with their Thanksgiving plans. However, Luebbert said he thinks the stores opening so early does take away from the holiday.
Black Friday deals continue throughout the weekend, with many stores opening early today, and more specials offered for Small Business Saturday as well.