WALLA WALLA -- Black Friday got off to an earlier start this year, as was the case for many communities across the nation.
A few minutes before 4 a.m., a line of 50 people was gathered in front of Macy's downtown.
The first person in line, almost pressed to the door, was Ginger Burnett. It wasn't that the crowd behind Burnett was pressing her forward, it was her zeal to get in and be first that kept her right up to the glass door. Then in a rowdy girls-gone-mildly-wild-while-shopping sort of way, Burnett pounded the door to be let in, then laughed a bit with her friends.
"Actually we got here at 3 a.m. and no one was around. So we went to Jack in the Box and came back later," Burnett said, noting they came back at 3:15 and spent 45 minutes in 17-degree weather.
But it wasn't the weather that foiled Burnett's plans to be first in the store.
In a twist of fate, the sales associate at Macy's neglected to first open the glass door with the 50 people waiting behind it. Instead, she opened the door to the left that had one family who had just arrived standing behind it.
So the newcomers were first, and a few mild cries of foul were voiced by Burnett to the associate. But there was shopping to be done, so Burnett did not continue her chiding and quickly set off with her friends to the basement to check out luggage and cooking utensils.
"You can't win today; I opened the door on time," the sales associate said, as the last of the shoppers trailed in the door, and she greeted each of them.
"Is the shoe store going to be opened today," one of the swift shoppers asked her as he whizzed by.
"Yes ... Happy After Thanksgiving day," she continued.
It was obvious from her knowledge, assertiveness and ability to always keep a smile that the sales associate was a veteran Macy's employee, but she preferred not to give her name.
Then the sales associate made small talk with another sales associate who was situated behind the glass counter facing the entryway, as they noted how the store is opening earlier every year. Last year Macy's opened at 5 a.m.
"Kohl's opened at 3 a.m. (today)," she noted.
An hour later the Black Friday ceremony repeated at Shopko, but on a grander scale as a crowd of more than 100 people gathered. One of those shoppers arrived more than an hour before the store opened.
"I got here at 3:45. The store (manager) looked at me like I was crazy. I said, 'That's fine,'" said the woman who was first in line. But she is known only as Anne because just as she was giving her name, the door opened. And she rushed off saying "Anne," being sure to keep her lead in the calm and orderly pack.
As for the woman in second, she was spotted 10 minutes later, her shopping for the day almost done.
Shirley Kern had just finish paying for two identical nursery doll sets for her two great-granddaughters, when she was asked why she got up so early in such cold weather to shop.
"Cause it's fun. You have to be crazy to be out in 17-degree weather. It is fun to do," Kern said.
Though it turned out Kern never got up at all today.
In fact, she is what some think may be the future of Black Friday shopping, the all-night shopper.
The great-grandmother started at 10 p.m., after finishing her Thanksgiving dinner, and headed out the door to Walmart.
"I watched a little TV til 10 p.m., got what I wanted at the midnight sale at Walmart, and then went home and got some coffee," Kern said.
Then she gathered her two bags and headed out the door to Home Depot, where it also opened at 5 a.m., to buy a gift for her husband.