Christmas rush begins in the black of Friday morning

Middle of the night or early morning? Either way you cut it, people were out in force.


WALLA WALLA -- At 3:30 a.m., Black Friday was already kicking up a row here. More than 50 people were keeping company in the pitch-dark, rainy and foggy morning in front of Sears, ready to rush inside and try to get the best deals.

"We came some time before 3:30. I'm here for the load laundry pair that's being sold for a great price here. We saw the offer in the newspaper and decided to try to get it. I think we'll go to one more place after that," said Scott Surface, the first person in line.

At the other end of the line people having come a bit later were getting ready for the sport of shopping random Black Friday offers.

"We came early for the sale and we might just get presents for our uncle and mom right now. For my mom we're looking for some suitcases, because she is going to be traveling, and we need cooking utensils for my uncle. After here we're going to stop by in Shopko. That opens at 4 a.m., and then Home Depot and probably end up in Wal-Mart as usual," said sisters Cassandra and Ana LeGrand, who were ready for an all-day marathon.

Many people had chosen Wal-Mart to be their first destination. Open 24 hours, some of the smaller sales started at midnight.

"The big stuff is going to start at about 5 a.m. TVs are the most popular and there are great savings. There is a huge line already and people have started lining up since like 3 a.m. We've been giving out tickets indicating the time people came," said Evan Cambell, a Wal-Mart employee.

"The electronics is by far the most popular among the customers. It's always a big deal and people started coming since 11 or 12 o'clock last night to see the offers and keep spots," said Marion Schmidt, another Wal-Mart employee.

Having their tickets to keep order for the electronics, people were spreading among the other sections of the store, checking the smaller sales.

"We've come especially for this trampoline. We saw the publicity on TV and it's cheaper, so we decided to come," said Antonio Cerdo, who was accompanied by his sleepy 5-year-old son.

Wal-Mart had noticeably increased security to control the customer flow through the store.

"In another 30 minutes we're expecting about 2,000-3,000 more people in here. The best deal we offer is a laptop that costs $190 and there is a big line of people waiting for it. There are a couple of other laptops for $290. The TVs are definitely the most popular goals," said Jarrod Burden from the store's electronics department.

By 4:30 a.m. there was already a constant flow of people rushing in to search for deals.

Black Friday is considered to be the most intense shopping day of the year. One of the stories on the origin of the name Black Friday comes from the Philadelphia Police Department in the 1960s referring to the heavy traffic caused by people shopping on their day off after Thanksgiving. Though it is considered to be the biggest day for Christmas present shopping, the last weekend before Christmas keeps the lead in number of sales.


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