Scenes from Black Friday around Maryland

Black Friday not too strong for shoesIn past years, shoppers had complained about parking in the Harbor East area. This year, Harbor East is offering free parking for three hours for any shopper who can produce $100 worth of receipts for area stores, says Joshua Love, a store manager at Benjamin Lovell shoe store.

"People seem to be really happy about it," he says.

While several shoppers were browsing the shoe store Friday morning, Love says Black Friday is not a huge day for footwear.

The busiest days will be Dec. 23 and 24, he says.

"Those two days are really crazy," Love says. And most of these procrastinators will be men. "They wait until the very last moment possible," he says.

--Eileen Ambrose

Is shopping early cool?Meghan McCaffery didn't have to prod her two daughters, Abby, 9, and Anna, 11, to get up extra early on their day off from school the day after Thanksgiving.

They drove 40 minutes from Kent Island to start shopping at 4 a.m. at Kohl's in Bel Air, where McCaffery's mother lives, then headed to White Marsh Mall. There the girls purchased boots, shoes, earrings and Christmas outfits.

"They wanted to do it," McCaffery said of her daughters. "Just to get up and go shopping. They think it's cool to come to the mall that early."

--Lorraine Mirabella

A short shopping list

Sharonda Purnell was not the typical Black Friday shopper. Instead of heading out in the pre-dawn hours to battle the crowds and load up on stuff, Purnell stopped into the mall Friday morning for just one thing: Pyrex dishes she'd seen advertised at Macy's home store. Still, they were on sale, so it was worth it, she said.

"The parking was good, and I waited in line about two minutes," she said.

--Lorraine Mirabella

Accepting the Black Friday craziness

Alisha De La Cruz used to laugh at people who went out into what she once thought was the craziness of Black Friday.

Then the 32-year-old Towson resident tried it out herself.

Now she realizes: "The deals really are worth it."

She and two friends arrived at Target in Towson at about 10:45 Thursday night. They had planned to come at midnight until De La Cruz drove by the store and saw there was already a line.

She same in a enough time to land a ticket for a coveted 40-inch TV for $298.

She has also planned to hit Best Buy and HHGregg later in the day.

--Andrea K. Walker

Must have StarbucksYou wouldn't have caught Carli Steiner, 24, and her mom, Jackie Steiner, of Perry Hall, standing in some long line at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. So where were they?

"At Starbucks," Jackie Steiner said. "We can't go anywhere without that."

But then it was off to do some serious bargain hunting, at the mall. At White Marsh, they found everything 50 percent off at New York & Company and also hit Pac Sun, Victoria's Secret, Express and Macy's.

By around 9:30 a.m., Carli Steiner had purchased a Christmas outfit and other apparel, but somehow, "no presents. It's all just for me."

Completing the holiday shopping "is not going to happen," she said. "We came with no list, no plans, and are just buying as we see."

The mother and daughter said they generally prefer the relative calm of the mall to the "big box" stores such as Best Buy and Target. "They're crazy," Carli Steiner said.

--Lorraine Mirabella

Bargains lost"This is when I do my big shopping," said Annette Gray, who was shopping with her daughters, ages 16 and 11, at White Marsh Mall on Friday morning. "If I don't get it done today, it doesn't happen. You get your best bang for the buck."

Earlier in the day, Gray said she was able to get a disc player at Best Buy, but was minutes too late to get a Dell notebook for $189 at Wal-Mart, even though she got there by 4:25 a.m.

"When I got there, they had given out all the tickets," for the notebooks, she said.

--Lorraine Mirabella

Good bargains gone earlyNot everybody was happy with their Black Friday experience. Walmart in Towson gave out the tickets for popular items earlier than the allotted 4 a.m. time frame, some shoppers said. And they weren't too happy about it.

"They should do what they advertise," said Darcell Smith, a 38-year-old from Baltimore who works in the food service industry. Smith came for a $198 laptop computer. They were sold out by the time she got there at midnight, so she got the $298 laptop instead.

--Andrea K. Walker

Dodging lines at Toys R UsSadé Lambert, 25, went with her husband to the Toys R Us in Glen Burnie when it opened at 10 p.m. "but the crowd was too big." They went to a Toys R Us in Catonsville next -- same problem. So they headed to Arundel Mills mall and got their clothes shopping out of the way -- "about $700 worth of clothes for $200," she said. At 3 a.m., the Toys R Us in Glen Burnie was still a madhouse, so the couple went home, got some sleep and tried again a little bit later.

Their cart was full, but Lambert said she had better luck finding toys for her daughter than for her two boys.

"Everything is pretty much gone," said Lambert, who lives in Glen Burnie.

This was her first Black Friday. Her goal: "Spend less this year. Get more, spend less."

--Jamie Smith Hopkins

A team effortDavid Atwood of Parkville sat in a portable chair, second in line at Target at Towson Place shopping center. He came with his wife and two kids, who took turns saving their place in line in what has become an annual family event. His son waited inside Walmart on the other side of the shopping center. They bought a Wii Fit and portable television player from Target and a flat-screen television from Walmart.

"You just can't beat the deals," Atwood said.

--Andrea K. Walker

Lines at Toys R UsGlen Burnie resident Matt Cunningham, 34, went to the Annapolis Toys R Us at 10:30 p.m., just after it opened, and found that the line to get in was wrapped entirely around the building and then some.

"It was sick, so we just left," said Cunningham, who has 3-year-old twins. "We figured by the time we got in with a line like that, there wouldn't be anything left."

Cunningham, who went home, tried the Toys R Us in Glen Burnie around 7:30 a.m. the next morning and picked up a few gifts. He also bought tree lights at the Home Depot several hours after it opened. The home-improvement store was considerably less packed, he said.

"I asked [an employee], was it crazy?" he said, wondering if shoppers had lined up for Home Depot the way they had for toys. "She said, 'No, it was a non-event.'"

--Jamie Smith Hopkins

20 year tradition of 'pure fun'Domestic items and electronics were the most popular buys at the Kohl's in Severn Friday morning, said store manager Brad Foor. "The crowd was bigger than last year," he added. "We had a nice rush this morning."

Pasadena resident Liz Donelan, 46, said she avoided electronics in all the stores she visited Friday morning because those items are always the most popular. The crush of people competing for cheap laptops and other deals "was such a nightmare," she said.

Instead, she and her mother-in-law shopped for clothes, flannel sheets and other practical items. They've done Black Friday together for 20 years. The rough economy is on Donelan's mind, and she warned her kids that there would be no going overboard for the holiday, but she wasn't about to stay home.

"It's just pure fun," Donelan said. "It's a kick-start to the season."

--Jamie Smith Hopkins

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