Forget Black Friday. It's Black Thursday.
With several national retailers opening their doors for holiday shopping deals on Thursday evening, shoppers across North Texas chose to forgo turkey for TVs.
Paul Gomez and Shonda Rogers were first in line at the Best Buy in Hurst, camping out since midnight on Tuesday so they could purchase a $199 42-inch Sharp flat-screen television.
The Fort Worth residents liked the earlier store openings; Best Buy opened at midnight this year instead of at 4 a.m. as in 2010.
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"I feel bad for the employees, but I'm really, really glad I don't have to wait out here four more hours," Gomez said.
About 152 million people plan to shop on Black Friday weekend, a 27 percent increase from 2010, according to the National Retail Federation.
ToysRUs opened at 9 p.m., and Walmart made its Black Friday deals available at 10 p.m. Macy's chose to open at midnight, marking the first time a department store opened early and prompting some malls to also open early.
"It puts a shorter period on for the line so you're not out here catching pneumonia," said Bedford resident Dewone Shea, who was first in line at ToysRUs with his wife, Shannon. By 8 p.m., they already had a ticket in hand for the $74.99 tablet that ToysRus was offering as a doorbuster.
At Best Buy, customers waiting in line were treated to free hot chocolate, portapotties and a viewing of Harry Potter The Deathly Hallows Part II on a 9-foot-by-12-foot video screen set up in the parking lot.
Lashonda Watson had visited two other Best Buys -- one in Arlington and the other in south Fort Worth -- before choosing to stand in line at the Best Buy in Hurst.
"This one had the shortest line, and we were still 51 (in line) at 5 p.m.," said Watson, who was hoping to get an inexpensive television and laptop.
Hurst police were already on hand at the ToysRUs in Hurst to ensure that no one cut in line and to maintain control of the thousands waiting before the store opened at 9 p.m.
Workers started arriving around 7 p.m. to prep the store, placing shopping carts in line for waiting customers and handing out tickets for some of the limited "doorbuster" electronics items.
North Richland Hills resident Connie Thompson did a "drive-by" of ToysRUs at 7 p.m. When she saw that the line was already several hundred people deep, she knew she had to join them.
She was hoping to get a Leapster 2 for her 3-year-old twin grandsons. She was cold, and glad that her wait would be short.
"I'd rather stay up, go and get it over with," she said. "This way, we can go get it done and go home and go to bed."
When the doors finally opened at ToysRUs, workers and customers began cheering the beginning of Black Friday (althought it was still Thursday). The aisles quickly became filled with shoppers pushing carts, looking for a good deal.
To keep the store from getting too crowded, employees let in about 50 people at a time.
Hurst resident Lisa Beam was disappointed that the Princess & Me closets were gone by the time she made it inside.
But she did not leave empty-handed. Her basket was filled with princess dolls and toys for her 5-year-old daughter.
"I do feel like I get better deals on Black Friday," Beam said. "I like the people, too. It puts me in the Christmas mood."
Target's rush started at midnight as shoppers rushed into the Hurst store on Precinct Line, hoping to snag doorbuster deals on televisions and game consoles.
Even though Sara Plunket was about 300th in line at Target, she believed she had a chance at scoring a $200 flat-screen television as well as some cheap DVDs. She too enjoyed the earlier store openings.
"I'd rather not go to sleep then sleep for a couple of hours and then get up to shop," said the Paradise, Texas resident who was also planning to visit Best Buy, Old Navy, Kohl's and Academy Sports & Outdoors. "I told the kids we may not get home until noon."
For Jesse Pierfelice and Trevor MacDonald, coming to Target on Black Friday has become a ritual ever since the two first met while standing in line at the Hurst store on Black Friday in 2008. The two are now engaged.
"This is just our store," Pierfelice said as she picked up a Barbie Dream Townhouse for MacDonald's six-year-old daughter. "To me, it doesn't even matter what we get [in doorbusters]."
Northeast Mall had hundreds of shoppers roaming its halls as a few specialty retailers chose to open at midnight when department store, Macy's, opened its doors. The Subway in the food court was busy selling drinks and sandwiches while clothing retailer, Hollister Co., had a line forming outside of its stores as it only let a few people in at a time.
Lisa and LaDonnica Eddings, arrived at the mall around midnight but did not find what they were looking for at Macy's. So the mother and daughter chose to hang out inside, out of the cold, waiting for JCPenney's to open at 4 a.m.
"We went to Walmart and Target already," Fort Worth resident LaDonnica Eddings said. "It just makes it simple to get it done, go home and rest," she added referring to the earlier store hours.
Richland Hills resident Denise Mabery decided to pass up Best Buy when she saw how long the line was around 11 p.m. and instead chose to set up her chair, space heater and coffee at Sears which did not open until 4 a.m. Mabery was hoping to get an XBox Kinect for her teenagers.
When Sears opened its doors, there was a mad dash to the escalator that went to the second floor where the electronics department is located. Several customers wanting to buy the doorbuster deal of a Playstation3 for $199 were disappointed when store employees announced there were only three in stock.
Traffic around Northeast Mall about 5:30 a.m. was moving smoothly although parking lots around the department stores and mall entrances were full. ToysRus, however, had several empty parking spaces and empty shelves by then, a much different picture then when the store led off the Black Friday sales last night.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631