MARQUETTE - For some people, the day after Thanksgiving is a chance to relax, maybe eat some leftover turkey. For others, today means one thing: shopping.
Crowds hit the stores early this morning to pick up deals available only to those willing to brave Black Friday. Hundreds hit the shopping corridor along U.S. 41 in Marquette Township, flocking to stores like Target, Kohl's, Wal-Mart and Menards.
"I've been doing it since I was like 16 or 17," said Holly Slawinski of National Mine who was in line in front of Target with hundreds of others well before the 5 a.m. opening time.
Stores at the Westwood Mall in Marquette Township, left, had deals for early shoppers, with lines forming outside stores like Radio Shack. Here, mall customers walk through the halls in between stores. Below, Target saw its first customers waiting at around 2:30 a.m. and by opening, the line had stretched across the front of the building into the parking lot. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
Slawinski said that as she has three young children, the early shopping is a good time to stock up on Christmas gifts and toys at lower prices.
"We all have something in common. We're all waiting in lines. We're all comrades now," Slawinski said, laughing, of the others waiting around her.
Stretching across the front of the store and around into the parking lot, the line at Target was full of shoppers of all ages.
"The craziness. It's once a year. Might as well do it. It's a kick off to the season."
- Christine Mattila, early shopper
First in line were Marvin and Tanya Craft of Marquette, who had arrived at 2:30 a.m.
"I thought there was going to be more when we showed up, but we were the second car here," Tanya Craft said.
The couple was hoping to snag two flat-screen TVs before going to work, and were also one of the first to the checkout lines.
Deals on TVs and other electronics were some of the main sales that drew shoppers to the stores.
"Usually the main things are the electronics, the toys and the appliances," said Steve McCoy, a manager at Target. "It's a very big day. The biggest day of the year."
McCoy and managers at other stores said crowds this year looked to be strong, stronger even than last year's.
"I think with our doorbusters, we're looking for a record-breaking event," said Younkers Manager Debbie Hatcher. "The customers are waiting for today."
Hatcher said for many families, shopping on Black Friday is as much a family tradition as it is a chance to get a jump start on holiday shopping.
For some who hit the stores early, Black Friday is also a chance to people watch.
"Mostly just for the experience," said Ishpeming High School student Alex Goldsworthy, who was waiting in line at Target wearing shorts. "I didn't think this through. I didn't realize I'd be standing outside this long."
Goldsworthy and his friend Vince Gravedoni said they had left home at 3:30 a.m. to look for video games and electronics.
The Marquette stores drew shoppers in from more than just the surrounding communities.
Samantha Koski, 15, and her mother, Lynn Koski, left L'Anse before 3 a.m. to drive to Marquette for deals at the Westwood Mall.
"This is my first time (shopping early)," Samantha Koski said. "It's busy. It's interesting to see all the people."
Once shoppers braved the lines to get into their favorite stores, faced the crowds to find the items on their lists, they often found lines again, this time at the cash registers.
"This is our first stop," said Christine Mattila of Marquette, who was just exiting Kohl's with two friends. "It took 50 minutes just in the checkout line."
The number of people out and about, however, is what makes Black Friday worth the trip, she said.
"The craziness. It's only once a year. Might as well do it. It's a kickoff to the season," she said.