A.J. Rigsby has been shopping on Black Friday for more than 25 years, and Friday was no exception.
But shopping in Macon -- on one of the busiest shopping day of the year -- was a little more involved for her than for most Middle Georgians.
On Thanksgiving Day, Rigsby and three other relatives drove about 100 miles from Leesburg in south Georgia just to shop. They checked into a hotel, bought a Telegraph and began going through the advertisements, clipping coupons and planning their shopping strategy.
They went to Target on Thursday night, one of the major retailers that began doorbuster specials at 9 p.m., but the line at the registers wrapped around the store to the rear, and Rigsbys relatives wouldnt put up with waiting that long.
However, the group was at Belk at The Shoppes at River Crossing in north Bibb County at 6 a.m. for the early morning deals, then they hit Academy Sports + Outdoors and were shopping at Macon Mall before noon.
Its a yearly tradition, Rigsby said.
She doesnt do much online shopping.
I like to touch things before buying them, she said.
We are getting something to eat and then to more stores, said Tricia Williams, who was shopping with the foursome.
Rigsby said they would shop in Macon until about 7 p.m. before hitting the road for the two-hour trip back home.
The traditional Black Friday -- when many stores opened their doors during the wee hours of the morning after Thanksgiving Day -- has changed. This year, major retailers from Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving evening, creating a two-day affair.
Suzanne Mclelland and Cassie Jones, both from North Carolina visiting Macon for the holidays, did not get up before dawn to fight for special deals.
Its been crowded, Mclelland said while walking around River Crossing. Im not one of those early risers. Were just tagging along. The lines are so long, its not worth it.
Jones said Black Friday shopping is not for the casual shopper.
You should go if you have something specific to get, she said. Black Friday isnt for browsing.
On the other hand, Peyton Rusk, 15, of Kennesaw was worn out Friday from shopping with her mother and aunt. They went to Wal-Mart on Thursday night and stood in line for an hour to get a trampoline for her cousin.
Im very tired, she said. I usually dont come with my aunt and mom. Its fun, but I like it better when they just come and shop for me.
Eighteen-year-old Sanquonette Nesbitt of Macon, was brief in describing what she thought about shopping Friday.
Black Friday is awesome, Nesbitt said.
At least the crowds in Macon didnt come close to what shoppers in New York City had to deal with.
About 11,000 shoppers were in lines wrapped around Macys flagship store in New York Citys Herald Square when it opened at midnight on Black Friday, according to an Associated Press article. Thats up from about 9,000-10,000 shoppers who showed up at the stores midnight opening last year.
Small businesses do well during Black Friday
Small businesses sometimes feel left out of the Black Friday rush, but two small boutiques in Warner Robins said they were doing well.
Southern Flair opened at 9 p.m. Thursday and stayed open all night because the Target next door was also open overnight. It was the stores first Black Friday under new owner Mistie Johnson, and the strategy paid off. They were busy throughout the night.
We werent sure what to expect, but we have been pleasantly surprised, said store manager Grace Vinson. They were backed up and waiting in line.
Gena DeBoe, owner of Gena Jayne The Chic Boutique on Commercial Circle, said she was concerned about what kind of traffic she would get without a mall nearby to draw in customers, but she said she was doing well.
Its definitely stronger than it was last year, DeBoe said. The loyalty seems stronger for small businesses this year and people wanting to keep their money local.
The Houston County Galleria Mall was still plenty busy around noon, but shoppers there said it wasnt as bad as fighting the early morning crowd.
Pat Adkins of Hawkinsville said it was her first Black Friday trip in 10 years. She had stopped going because she didnt like the long lines, but by starting later in the morning, she said it wasnt too taxing. The only place she saw a long line was at Belk.
The lines in Belk are horrible, she said as she rested on a bench inside the mall. I had a few things I was going to buy, but I put them back and said Id come back another day.
Eve Bucholz of Warner Robins was at the mall looking for gifts for her grandchildren. She started shopping at 10 a.m., and also said lines havent been bad.
I dont stand in those big lines, she said. I just like to see the Christmas trees and all the decorations. Its fun.
Staff writer Danyelle Gary contributed to this story. To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223. To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.