MODESTO -- Clutching blankets, advertising fliers and hundreds of coffee beverages, area shoppers turned out in force for Black Friday sales.
Lines around the buildings awaited the opening of sales at Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart on Thursday night into Friday morning. At Vintage Faire Mall at 9 p.m. Thursday, entrances had lines in anticipation of the midnight opening of most stores, though several opened well in advance of that time.
As they did last year, mall officials opened the main doors at 11 p.m., giving shoppers time to line up before their favorite shops opened.
Controlled chaos erupted when security staff opened the doors, with people running in and running off to line up in front of individual shops. Within seconds, someone lost a jacket in the free-for-all, but that seemed to be the sole casualty.
Lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret attractedthe biggest crowd.
Teen favorite Abercrombie & Fitch also proved popular. Among those who came to shop there were three members of the Delgado family from Turlock: sisters Karissa and Vanessa and their cousin Issac.
"We come every year," said Karissa, 18. "It's fun."
The Delgados said they were shopping for themselves and for holiday gifts. They got to the mall at 7 p.m. to be among the first in line.
"Abercrombie has 50 percent off the whole store," Issac said.
Shopping makes them hungry
The mall's restaurants also opened up shop, and by midnight Friday, the food court looked as it might on a Saturday afternoon: lines at Hot Dog on a Stick and Wetzel's Pretzels and children scampering around the mall's new play area.
The first group of midnight shoppers was mostly gone from the mall by 4 a.m. Friday, but traffic picked up again about 7 a.m., according to marketing manager Janice Curtin. The third wave of deal-seekers came early in the afternoon.
"It is a different shopper that comes at midnight than the shopper that comes early in the morning and the shopper who learned that they can still get good deals when they come later in the day," Curtin said.
She wouldn't say how many shoppers came to the mall Friday, but said it was more than last year. The most popular stores throughout the day were the Disney Store, Victoria's Secret and Hollister Co.
Thanksgiving was a holiday from work for many people, and some chose to spend it with their families rather than with the droves at the retailers.
"We stayed home," wrote Kristopher Pierce on The Bee's Facebook page. "I decided last year that I would sit this one out. Plus, I wasn't happy that so many retailers decided to open on Thanksgiving. Consumerism run amok? I think so."
So does Joshua Morriston. "Hyper commercialism has stripped the meaning of the holidays away for a lot of people," He wrote. "Great deals (which aren't really) lure folks away and separate families when they should be together
free from the burden of work."
Kicking off the holidays
For years, Black Friday has been the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season. It's named for the day each year when stores hope to cover expenses and start to make a profit. More recently, it's become a scramble for the consumer dollar, which has been harder to come by in an economy that remains tight.
Retailers such as Target and Toys R Us moved their openings earlier this year, sparking protests from employees and groups that felt they were encroaching on the Thanksgiving holiday.
But hundreds of shoppers lined up to get deals, many of them leaving the holiday table to do so.
"I cooked my dinner, was done by 1 and got here at 2," said Krista Giordanella, in line at Toys R Us.
Though much of the activity focused on big-box retailers, there was some room for entrepreneurial endeavors: 10-year-old Jasmin Ramirez took advantage of captive audiences to sell candy bars in a fund-raiser for Shackelford Elementary School.
Jasmin and her mom, Kyria Boyso, worked lines at Kmart and Toys R Us.
When asked whose idea it was, each pointed at the other. "Do not even blame me," Boyso said.
Whoever had the idea, it was a good one: Standing in the parking lot of Toys R Us, Boyso shook three empty boxes.
"We sold one box at Kmart and two boxes here."
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy contributed to this report.
Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343.