Virginia Mickelsen of Boise waited outside Shopko on Broadway at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving Day to get a good deal on a waffle-maker and other appliances.
It was just the beginning of her Black Thursday shopping plans, which will be interrupted with Thanksgiving dinner with friends. After leaving Shopko, she was going home to look at the ads to decide where she would go in the evening and Friday.
Thats what Im going to do today, Mickelsen said. Map out my plans.
The day after Thanksgiving was considered the official start of the holiday gift buying season for years, going back to the 1950s. As demand grew in the 1990s, many of the major retailers opened at 6 a.m. to stretch out the day, offering special bargains for early birds.
In 2011, retailers moved the opening to midnight and die-hard shoppers camped out ¬¬¬-- sometimes for days -- to get great deals on computers, electronics and toys. This year the flood gates have broken and the season now begins on the traditional day of turkey, football and giving thanks.
Kmart and others opened at 6 a.m. Thursday, attracting large crowds seeking televisions and Android tablets. One guy had been waiting several days, said Kmart store manager Dennis Hill.
At 5 a.m. there were probably a couple hundred people out there, Hill said.
Kmart closed at 4 p.m. and planed to reopen at 8 p.m. Thursday, with even more doorbuster bargains. All major retailers had some fashion of Thursday evening or early Friday presence.
Chad Tatum, a manager at Shopko, planned his Thanksgiving around store hours. Shopko closed at 1 p.m. and will reopen at 9 p.m.
So I go home, have Thanksgiving dinner and go to bed, he said.
Tatum made June Engs day when he went into the back and found two pair of wireless earphones on sale at half price for $20. Eng was gleeful she had gotten the first item on her long Christmas list.
Im just getting started, she said.
Brandon and Erica Cruz stayed warm in their car outside Shopko at 7:44 a.m. The line had not yet formed for the 8 a.m. opening, which is why they chose Shopko.
They were seeking a Skylanders Giants video game for their two sons, Quinn and Xaiver. It was the first time theyve ever waited outside for a store to open.
We are not part of this culture, Erica said.
They planned dinner for 4 p.m., so shopping didnt get in the way of Thanksgiving.
A lot of people would call this selfish, but we spend time with them 364 days of the year, Brandon said.
Boise nurse Marie Johnson solved her family conflict by shopping for the knife set she wanted on sale by going before her family even got up.
I already put my turkey in the oven, she said Thursday morning.
For people like Broadway Shopko shopper Mickelsen, early shopping is just part of her holiday tradition.
I guess you kind of get hooked, she said.