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Black Friday offers opportunity for shoppers to spend time together, chase deals

Over the past several years, Black Friday has developed a reputation as a wild and dangerous shopping day, with frantic shoppers obsessed with getting the most expensive items for the cheapest prices.

Carroll shoppers Friday afternoon seemed more concerned with pleasing their loved ones, getting into the holiday spirit, and spending time with friends and family while out and about, turning Black Friday from a consumerist nightmare into a pleasant holiday of its own.

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The midday shoppers were more low-key than the popularized doorbusters. There were no mad dashes around the store and hardly any congested aisles. There were still signs that the day was unique, though: full parking lots, a lack of carts and long lines to the fully staffed registers.

Kelly Selby, of Union Bridge, wore a Santa hat as she shopped through racks of clothes at Marshalls in Westminster for some Black Friday deals. Selby said she woke up and started buying gifts for friends and family at 3:30 a.m. With a brief stoppage in her shopping spree to go to work at Lowe's from 7 to 11 a.m., Selby returned to shopping and bought gifts at a range of stores, including Walmart to Old Navy.

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She said the deals are important because they allow her to get more for the people she loves. Selby said she wasn't buying for herself on Black Friday, but was looking to get a start on her holiday shopping.

"Just going out is what makes it fun," she said. "It's not as special if you just sit at home."

At larger stores like Walmart, the Black Friday furor had died down by the afternoon. Many of the shoppers there picked up groceries or household supplies while browsing some of the sales out on the floor.

Now that Thanksgiving has finished, the constant playing of Christmas music and stores' holiday decorations — which were put up closer to Halloween — are finally seasonal. For Deborah Harry, it's this ambiance that she was chasing today.

The Westminster resident had traveled from Target to B.J.'s to Walmart picking up gifts, Christmas decorations, and other odds and ends. She said the sales aren't as important to her, and she got up and headed out of the house on her own schedule rather than chase a particular store opening. She said she loves to go out at this time of year.

"It makes it finally feel like the Christmas season," Harry said. "You wait for that time to come, and now it's finally here."

More than 300 parking spaces were filled at the Westminster Kohl's on Friday afternoon, nearly filling the lot to capacity. Even with all 12 registers fully staffed, the line to pay for items stretched around the store. Black Friday occurs in the middle of the store's two weeks of holiday hours, when it remains open until midnight every night.

Inside, there was a sales sign on nearly every rack or shelf of merchandise, as people shopped for clothes, toys, home goods and anything else they could get a hold of. Despite the crowded parking lot, the aisles themselves were relatively empty, with the majority of people waiting in line to check out.

For Sykesville residents Jo Ann Walton, her sister Sandy Summers and daughter Jessica Walton, Black Friday seems more like a continuation of Thanksgiving than just another chance to shop. Jo Ann said she goes out every year with her family, just one day after sharing Thanksgiving meal together.

"For us, it's a tradition," she said. "We go every year. This is just as much a part of the holiday as everything else. It's a good way to spend the day together and pick up some things for people, or for our pets. It's a fun and special day."

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