MARSHALL - Perhaps it's the economy, perhaps it's just the love of a good bargain, but Black Friday is still going strong in spite of calls to slow things down.
The 24-hour stores were packed. Wal-Mart saw an early shopping boom on Thanksgiving evening.
"I have never seen a parking lot so full in my life," said Karen Hoekstra.
Photos by Steve Browne
Sisters Danielle (left) and Renee Johnson arrived at Menards in Marshall for Black Friday just before opening, wearing their shopping credentials.
Late afternoon Wal-Mart parking had overflowed into adjacent lots. By early Friday it had slowed down as shoppers were drawn to other stores opening up in the morning.
"We've been doing it all night," said Wal-Mart shopper Anne DeVries. "We keep coming back, fight the crowds, and unload. Now we're waiting for Menards to open.
At 5:45 a.m., there was a line at Menards that had almost doubled in length by the time it opened at 6 a.m.
"I'm here for a pressure washer for my dad," said Chris Arndorfer. "I've been here since 5:15. I'm not usually a Black Friday shopper, but I'm pulling out the stops for my dad."
Danielle Johnson and her sister, Renee, joined the line a few minutes before opening. The Johnson sisters said they weren't looking for anything in particular, just good deals. Under their winter jackets they wore sweatshirts emblazoned with "Black Friday Professional" on the front, and "Don't get your tinsel in a tangle" on the back.
Peter Vang got to the K-Mart store about 4 a.m.
"I came pretty much for electronics and furniture stuff," Vang said.
Last year K-Mart experimented with staggering its opening and closing hours throughout Thursday and Friday.
This year the store opened at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and stayed open for the next 41 hours.
"It started out Thursday morning kind of slow and was pretty steady through the day until 4 p.m.," said K-Mart Manager Cindi Westphal. "Then the crowds started. By 7 p.m. when we had the doorbuster sale people were lined up from Checkout 7 to electronics. We guesstimated there were about 250 to 300 people waiting."
According to Westphal, big sellers were clothes and electronics, especially TVs, Notebooks and Kindles.
"I can't really pin down any one particular item," Westphal said.
Schwesers opened at 6 a.m. but didn't have a long line waiting of shoppers at the time.
"There were a few people outside," said manager Penni Jandl. "It's been steady but not overwhelming. Mostly it's the doorbuster items that have been selling: scarves, coats and sweaters."
Shopko opened at 8 p.m. Thursday.
"We've been pretty busy, we had a big line at 8 p.m." said Shopko Manager Dave Naughten. "Electronics were popular again. In general, sales were pretty well-spread between apparel, appliances and toys."
Runnings closed Thanksgiving Day to give employees a holiday and opened at 5 a.m. on Friday.
Alissa Henkle said she is not normally a Black Friday shopper, but was there to take advantage of a $10 gift card.
"Just some Christmas supplies and birthday gifts," Henkle said. "We have a lot of birthdays in December in my family."
According to Runnings Manager Gary Becker, the big selling items were sporting goods, under armor and power tools.
"To start with we had a pretty good crowd," Becker said. "I heard somebody joking, 'I'm going to get there quicker than you are,' as they headed for the sporting goods."