They had store maps, coupons and shopping lists.
This - "Black Friday," the busiest shopping day of the year - was serious business.
Retailers opened at odd hours and pushed early-morning discounts, as shoppers wiped sleep from their eyes and hustled around hunting for holiday bargains.
"If you wait, you miss the deals," said Jenny Hiatt, of Lawrence. "The saying goes the early bird gets the worm. Well, the early bird gets the specials."
The freezing temperatures - in the teens for most of the morning - failed to thwart the plans of Lawrence-area shoppers, including Hiatt. She waited in line outside Kohl's Department Store, 3240 Iowa, before the retailer's doors opened at 4 a.m.
She was also the first one to emerge minutes later from the checkout line with a mixer, an item she said she saved more than $60 on thanks to her early-morning venture.
Hundreds of shoppers at Kohl's and at J.C. Penney Co., 3311 Iowa, made it inside the store at 4 a.m.
"It's just the excitement. Finding that one special thing that no one else will have, or just a good deal," said Danielle Copeland, of McLouth.
At Best Buy, 2020 W. 31st St., a line snaked around behind the store as shoppers counted down to the 5 a.m. opening.
"It's going to be a mad bum rush. I guarantee it," said Larry Walters, a Tonganoxie man who works for a moving business in Topeka.
It wasn't quite that crazy, but the shoppers wasted no time moving into the warmth inside. They gladly grabbed televisions, computers and the Microsoft XBox 360 video game consoles.
Bundled up in a Carhartt jacket and layers of clothing, Walters had been waiting in the dark - since 6:30 p.m. Thursday - to buy gifts, including a laptop computer.
"The deals are a lot better when the sun's down," he said.
When it did come up Friday, shoppers also flocked to downtown Lawrence as they prepared for the evening festivities, including a visit from Santa Claus at Weaver's Department Store.