Jessica Bosworth spent Thanksgiving night in a lawn chair with a blanket.
But the sacrifice brought her something she was thankful for: the first spot in line at Best Buy when the doors opened at 5 a.m. Friday.
"I'm here to get a desktop computer for $189 for my mom. It wasn't so bad because it wasn't that cold. I didn't have to wear my heavy gloves," said the 28-year-old Lawrence resident who led the pack of 500 in a line that, by opening time, snaked around to the back of the store and spilled into the adjoining convenience store parking lot.
For Bosworth, a veteran of the annual Black Friday retail rush, this year was a tag-team effort. Her mom snagged the prime spot at the head of the line at 3:30 on Thanksgiving afternoon.
Bosworth relieved her at 6 p.m. for the overnight duration.
Donnie Clancy, 20, and Rebecca Carlyle, 18, arrived together at 3:30 Thursday afternoon to stake claim to a spot near Bosworth with hopes of purchasing two $379 laptops as Christmas gifts for their dads.
"We got no sleep at all. This was our Thanksgiving, a lot of snacking. Basically, I found another way to spend my money," said Clancy of his first retail overnighter.
"Time goes slow. Around 1 a.m. it seemed like it would take forever," Carlyle said.
Best Buy employee Trey Allen, 22, greeted and directed the orderly crowds when the doors opened. The loss prevention specialist said this was the biggest post-Thanksgiving crowd he'd seen in his three years with the store.
"I think the weather played a big part. It's the warmest I can remember," said Allen of overnight low temperatures reported to be in the low 40s. Allen got to work at 4:30 a.m. after jamming his pumpkin pie and turkey into a rushed one-day round-trip to his hometown of Wichita.
Amanda Holloway, 26, was one of the first shoppers to leave the store with a purchase and a smile around 5:15 a.m.
"I got a heck of deal," said Holloway, toting a cart with a 24-inch TV. The Oskaloosa resident rolled out of bed at 2 a.m. and planned a half-day of shopping. "My next stop is to get some food. I need some carbs."
- Lori Vinoverski
Not everyone was shopping today for gifts for loved ones.
Vinay Reddy, 24, of Lawrence, was shopping at JC Penney on Iowa Street.
"I am shopping because things are comparatively cheaper today. I am shopping for myself," Reddy said.
Amy Rork, 57, of Lawrence, had a list of stores she wanted to go to Friday morning.
"I am looking partly for myself and I'm meeting some friends later. I like the paper ads the most," Rork said. "I came out this morning because I work now and don't have a lot of time to shop. I don't like to shop at night. I also wanted the snow globe."
- Judy Grant
At 5 a.m., two hours and 13 minutes before sunrise, dawn broke on Black Friday at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, 3300 Iowa.
Customers had been piling into the store since 4 a.m., waiting for the official price change to take effect at 5 a.m.
By 4:30 a.m., shopping carts were jammed together in double rows like bumper-to-bumper traffic.
At the entrance doors, a busy Wal-Mart employee did nothing but briskly and continually roll empty carts toward customers as they approached the building, neither the employees nor the customers missing a step or a cart. Yelled out over and over: "Do you need a cart? Do you need a cart?"
The answer was always, "Yes, yes ... "
At exactly 5 a.m., the shoppers were able to head into the store.
"We came here at 5 a.m. for the bargains. And just as much for the fun!" said Bobbi Rath of Gardner. "The hottest things in there were the televisions and any electronics at all.
"We're from Gardner and last year we went to the Olathe Wal-Mart, but it was awfully crowded. We decided to come to Lawrence this year and we're really glad we did; it was much easier here.
"And last year we were already standing in line to buy something when suddenly a woman literally dove between our legs, grabbed one of the things we were trying to buy and yelled, 'I was here first.' That didn't happen here this year."
- Mike Penner
Not everyone was shopping for electronics. Some were on the lookout for toys.
One look at Kendra Luna's shopping cart as she left SuperTarget on Black Friday showed she had a successful morning. Bags and boxes both in the cart and below were stacked.
The Lawrence resident started her journey at 7:30 Friday morning, but she was originally after only one toy.
"I came for one thing and ended up buying everything," she said. "I got the kids' wish lists last night and got everything on sale. I am pretty much done with my Christmas shopping for my three kids."
Did she get that one item she was after? She laughed and said she found and purchased the Littlest Pet Shop, which she made sure she got, though it was the only thing that was not on sale.
The hottest item on her shopping list today was the Diego Treehouse play set.
The day started at 7 a.m. for Sarah Kellogg, mother of two children, of Lecompton.
Never having participated in early bird sales on Black Friday, Kellogg was pleased that shoppers were "pleasant and polite."
Kellogg said she had fun and purchased everything on her list for her children, nieces and nephews. "Getting up early was "worth it and I will do it again," she said.
- Kari Wempe
- Judy Grant, Mike Penner, Lori Vinoverski and Kari Wempe are graduates for the Citizen Journalism Academy.