"I'll see what I'll get in the store," Sanaa said.

There was no long line at Wal-Mart, or any line at all, since the store was already open 24 hours for the day. Customers could shop all they wanted, but they could not reap the benefits of the sale until 8 p.m., when the store's employees cut open shrink-wrapped pallets of merchandise.

Some customers hovered around pallets of the goods they wanted, as if standing guard. Families split up to station themselves in different departments, and they communicated by cell phone.

When the shrink-wrap was cut open, a mad scramble ensued for everything from pillows to iPads.

"A little help," asked Karen Matthews, of Hampden, frantically digging through a pile of king-and-queen-sized sheets as a reporter interviewed her.

"I'm looking for a king," she said.

Destiny Monks, of White Marsh, couldn't find a Wii game called Just Dance 4.

"But I did find my XBox, so I'm glad for that," said Monks, 32, a stay-at-home mom.

There were no big-ticket items in Robert Thomas' shopping cart and not the $99 safe he wanted.

Instead, the Carney resident bought boxes of plastic food containers for Moveable Feast.

"I'm people-watching, as well," said Thomas, 49, a computer auditor. "It's very interesting to watch the dynamics of human behavior and consumerism."

Standing on line for an iPad was Fed Ex worker Zach Daniels, 30, of Towson, who came out to "work off the turkey."

His whole family was out shopping; he and his mom at Wal-Mart, his wife at Staples and his brother at the Target store.

"Everybody's out doing something," Daniels said.

Also in the line was Mark Miller, 29, of Towson, who is studying international relations at Towson University. He and his sister came out shopping, leaving the rest of the family behind.

"They think we're crazy," Miller said.