Chris Pierce, 30, and Jess McQuay, 22, arrived at Wal-Mart at about 2:30 a.m. Friday.
Three hours and $800 later, the couple filled their truck bed with two shopping carts full of kitchenware, toys and electronics.
Hundreds of frost-covered cars and trucks filled the parking lot at that early hour, when the storefront was lit brighter than the day by the towering white lights standing over the asphalt and the high beams of sleepy residents looking for a space close to the entrance.
“We got a bunch of gifts and some stuff for us, too,” Pierce said. “There were very good deals … and we had to get a Blu-ray player.”
Among the handful of people who were the first to leave Wal-Mart with assorted bundles of goods, no one said they were worried about the national recession, or that they considered reining in their spending this holiday season.
Harry Tripp, 32, went to Wal-Mart that morning with one thing on his mind.
“My TV,” he said, patting a 40-inch Sony flat-screen television that was in a box so big it did not fit in his cart.
The Kmart store down the street had a similar rush when it opened for its sale a little before 6 a.m.
Store manager Corey Cockrum, 37, said he opened the doors slightly ahead of schedule to let people in, out of the cold.
As he stood near the entrance watching people come in and out, he predicted a good day.
“We had a great Thanksgiving, and we’re looking forward to having a great Black Friday, as well,” Cockrum said.
Hilario Mendoza, 46, said he arrived at Kmart at 4:30 a.m. to make sure he had his pick of flatscreen TVs on sale.
“We know we want this one,” he said as a sales clerk came by to check on him.
News of Black Friday’s early success likely will be a pleasant change of pace for county and city officials who have seen sales tax revenues decline since spring.
However, not every store was enjoying the so-called busiest shopping day of the year. Downtown Yampa Avenue was a slightly different story.
Kathy Wasik-Wolff, who co-owns Pinky’s Palace with her son and daughter, said the day had not been good.
“It’s going really bad,” she said. “Not very many people at all have come in.”
In fact, all of November has been down, Wasik-Wolff added.
“The streets have been slow out here, too,” she said, referring to the downtown business district. “Not very many cars. It’s not very different than the rest of November.
“November has been the worst month since we started (in March). … I think everybody’s down at Wal-Mart and Kmart.”
Sandi Mansfield, who co-owns KS Kreations next door, said there was about as much foot traffic this year as previous years.
“So far, it’s not anything exceptional,” she said. “We’ve had people (come) in different spurts.”
Mansfield added that it’s not unusual for people to hit the bigger stores in town first to get discounts on large, expensive items and then visit her store later.
“We don’t have any of the big ticket items like the big box stores do,” she said.