Virginia Mickelsen of Boise waited outside Shopko on Broadway at 8 a.m. to get a good deal on a waffle maker and other appliances.
It was just the beginning of her Black Thursday shopping plans, which were interrupted by Thanksgiving dinner with friends. After leaving Shopko, she was heading home to look at the ads to decide where she would go in the evening and on Friday.
Thats what Im going to do today, map out my plans, Mickelsen said.
Dating to the 1950s, the day after Thanksgiving was considered the official start of the holiday gift-buying season. 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. Now the floodgates have broken, and the shopping season begins on the day traditionally reserved for turkey, family, football and giving thanks.
Kmart opened at 6 a.m. Thursday, attracting large crowds seeking televisions and Android tablets. One guy had been waiting several days, said store manager Dennis Hill.
At 5 a.m. there were probably a couple hundred people out there, Hill said.
About 8 p.m., Sears opened its doors at the Boise Towne Square mall for the first 100 people. They raced to the electronics section seeking 40-inch televisions.
The momentary chaos was cleared when employees formed shoppers into lines.
I had butterflies in my stomach just before the doors opened, said Nicole Waldenmeyer, a Sears sales clerk from Boise.
Chad and Sarah Zwygart were behind hundreds of shoppers in line at Sears when it opened, but they were able to get the microwave and garage door opener they sought.
D.J. and Linda Everett, with 1-year old son C.J. in tow, sat in line at Best Buy beginning at 8 a.m., hoping to score a TV when the store opened at midnight.
We were going to do this last year, but I went into labor, Linda said. We will celebrate (C.J.s) birthday at midnight on Black Friday.
Chad Tatum, a manager at Shopko, planned his Thanksgiving around store hours. Shopko closed at 1 p.m. and reopened at 9.
So I go home, have Thanksgiving dinner and go to bed, before returning for the late-Thursday shoppers, he said.
Tatum made June Engs day when he went into the back and found two pairs of wireless headphones on sale at half-price for $20. Eng said she was gleeful she had gotten the first item on her long Christmas list.
Im just getting started, she said.
At 7:44 a.m. Thursday, Brandon and Erica Cruz were staying warm in their car outside Shopko. A line had not formed for the 8 a.m. opening, which is why they chose the store.
They were seeking a Skylanders Giants video game for their two sons. It was the first time theyve ever waited outside for a store to open.
We are not part of this culture, Erica said.
They had planned dinner for 4 p.m., so shopping didnt get in the way of their Thanksgiving.
Boise nurse Marie Johnson solved her family conflict by shopping for the knife set she wanted before her family even got out of bed.
I already put my turkey in the oven, she said Thursday morning.
For Mickelsen and people like her, early shopping is just part of the holiday tradition now.
I guess you kind of get hooked, she said.
Rocky Barker: 377-6484