An early Black Friday

Waiting for Toys R Us in Towson Marketplace to open Thursday night are, from right, Michelle Markiewicz, 28, of Parkville; Stefanie Lord, 30, of Harford County; and Nora Lee Cockerham, 21, of Highlandtown. They were the first ones on line as Black Friday got off to an early start. (Photo by Larry Perl / November 23, 2012)

The streets were quiet Thanksgiving evening. An empty bus rolled up North Charles Street, toward Towson, a town mostly rolled up for the holiday.

But outside Target in the Towson Marketplace shopping center, a long line of was forming at 7 p.m. — two hours before the big-box store was set to open for Black Friday.

Most of the people on line were women, a trend that was seen at several stores in Towson Marketplace on Black Friday, the country's biggest shopping day of the year.

So why would people leave the comfort and holiday cheer of their homes to go shopping?

"Because we're idiots," said day care worker Dee Morgan, of Towson.

"To get an XBox Kinect for my girlfriend and watch all the crazy people," said Michael Schindler, 44, of Homeland, who works in a financial planning office in Bethesda.

"TVs," said Stephanie Gray, 31, of Parkville, who was hoping to get her hands on a Westinghouse 50-inch, flat screen television advertised at $349.

"That's a sweet deal," Gray said.

She could have camped out at Wal-Mart, in the same shopping center. It opened at 6 a.m. for 24 hours and would be starting its Black Friday sale at 8 p.m., one hour earlier than Target.

But, she said, "Wal-Mart didn't have the TV."

Morgan, too, was looking for a TV, specifically a 32-inch Apex TV advertised at $148. She also wanted a Nikon digital camera for $99.99.

Morgan, 39, a Black Friday veteran, had just finished camping out at a Kmart store. She got there at around 2:30 a.m., and when it opened at 6 a.m., she bought a tablet computer for her children for Christmas. It cost $40.

When she got home, Morgan took a three-hour nap, cooked a turkey dinner for seven people and rushed out to Target before the meal was over.

"They were still eating and I was gone," she said.

Outside the Toys R Us store, 100 people stood on a line that stretched to Michael's Crafts and Supplies. At the front, sitting in their portable chairs, where a sign said, "Line Forms Here," were nurse Michelle Markiewicz, 28, of Parkville; stay-at-home mother Stefanie Lord, 30, of Harford County; and Chipotle eatery service manager Nora Lee Cockerham, 21, of Highlandtown.

The three friends had been there since 5:30 p.m. with the goal of getting heavily discounted 55-piece "train tables" and PS Vita game systems for their children.

Markiewicz said she's been coming to Black Friday sales for years "and every year I've gotten everything I wanted," she said.

Right behind them in line was Seleste Harris, 32, of Towson, who works for the Harford County teachers' union. Harris said she and the three women ahead of her arrived at the same time, "but they ran faster."

With Harris was her daughter, Sanaa, who had lofty expectations for their shopping spree.

"I'm here to get free stuff," the 8-year-old said. She said she didn't have a specific toy in mind.