The Lufkin Mall was packed with people ready for Black Friday savings. Many stores inside the mall opened before the sun came up, but hundreds of shoppers lined up in the middle of the shopping center for the 8:00 a.m. gift bag giveaway. Not knowing what was inside, all they could do was hope the wait was worth it.
Kim Stephenson said, "We're not sure yet. When we get the bag, we'll see."
Kim Stephenson's 45-minute wait was not wasted. She was one of dozens of shoppers who got hundreds of dollars in coupons and certificates to some of her favorite stores.
Winnie Dobe said, "We got here before 7:00 a.m., but I got up like about 5:00 a.m. this morning."
Some people waited in line for hours to get the early bird special, but only the first 300 shoppers got a gift bag full of goodies. The bags were all gone in less than ten minutes.
Mall spokesperson Sherri Ziegenhals said, "There are gift coupons from Sears optical valued at $200. Five dollars off haircuts and we also have various coupons to about 30 mall merchants that's anywhere from 10 percent off to $5 off an item."
The holiday gift bags were worth between $300 and $500 each.
One of the earliest store openings in East Texas Friday was at Belk department store. Several cars were already in the parking lot in Lufkin before 4:00 a.m. Friday.
Cosmetics, sleep wear, and electronics were some of the top picks among the early risers. Several families showed up to catch a good bargain. They were among millions of people that woke up bright and early on the busiest shopping day of the year.
Gwendolyn Lewis said, "We always usually get up around 3:00 a.m. and we are out of the house between 3:45 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. It's not crazy, it's fun. We do it every year."
Belk was set to open at 4:00 a.m. Friday, but when employees got there around 3:00 a.m., they decided to open earlier because there was already a crowd of people waiting to get in.
Early risers were also lined up to get their hands on new shoes at a discounted price. There was a line outside the Shoe Carnival in Lufkin early Friday. The store didn't open until 6:00 a.m., but some shoppers got there long before that.
Brian Woods, Sr. said, "My wife drug me out the bed, made me get up. I didn't really want to get up early. My wife drug me out the bed saying 'baby, they got some good deals here'. So we're actually here for the different stylish boots they're sellin'."
The line to get into Best Buy was wrapped around the corner before 5:00 a.m.
Hundreds of people shivered in the early morning chill waiting for the Lufkin store to open its doors. Most of them said it was worth it because big holiday bargains don't come around very often.