LITTLE ROCK Steep discounts drew thousands of people to stores in west Little Rock as Black Friday sales started even before Thursday was done.
The busy sales event, which marks the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, began at Wal-Mart at 8 p.m.
Target followed at 9 p.m., and hundreds were in line when Best Buy opened its doors at midnight.
Some shoppers had long lists, while others eyed specific, heavily discounted doorbusters, like a 40-inch HDTV at Best Buy going for $180.
At the Target on Chenal Parkway, several hundred people waited in a line that snaked around the side of the store. Many grasped umbrellas as a steady rain fell in the hour before opening.
Some, like Woodlawn resident Trina Mitosinka, waited much of the day. She arrived at 1 p.m. — eight hours before the doors were to open — and snagged the first space in line to guarantee she'd get a $99 camera.
"I love it," Mitosinka said of this, her 16th year going after Black Friday sales. "I love the deals. I love beating everybody else. I love being first in line and everybody else being behind me. It's an addiction. It is."
Across Chenal, the recently opened Wal-Mart at Bowman Road attracted a large crowd as well. Among those shopping there was William Borie, who called the atmosphere "insane."
"If you don't like people, don't come out," he said with a smile as he left the store with a cart of toys. "We actually got here probably an hour ago. We've been bouncing around all over the place. We got done at Toys R Us, came over here, went to Target, and it's the same everywhere. Parking lots are full. People are everywhere. Lines are long."
At Best Buy, Larry Foschee of Little Rock arrived about 12:30 p.m. and was third in line. He figured he would save about $1,000 buying doorbusters including two televisions and a laptop.
Foschee even took along an old couch, which he unloaded from his CRV and set up just outside the store's front doors.
"This isn't my first rodeo," he said.
The first in line at Best Buy, Alexander resident Russ Lott got there a little before Foschee. He said he enjoyed hanging out with his fellow early-arriving deal seekers and knew it was a worthwhile investment of time.
"I'm going to save $650, so if I wait 13 hours, that's basically like getting paid $50 an hour to joke with a bunch of guys and have a good time," said Lott, who bought 40-inch and 50-inch televisions.
Shoppers had different ideas on the earlier start this year to Black Friday shopping.
Some said they appreciated getting it out of the way early, while others didn't like how it infringed on the holiday.
"I don't think the people that work here should have to work on Thursday," said Kim Mills, a Bryant resident who was shopping with family at the Wal-Mart on Bowman. "It's Thanksgiving."
Mitosinka, on the other hand, saw the earlier start as an advantage.
"It doesn't bother me," she said. "It keeps the people who don't really want to shop home. So it helps me be first. I will do Thanksgiving on Wednesday. That's what we do every year."