VIENNA - Shoppers from around the Mid-Ohio Valley filled local stores and the Grand Central Mall looking for bargains on Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.
"We are here for the sales, sales and more sales," said Nala Smith, who was visiting from Bellefontaine, Ohio, for the Thanksgiving holiday. "We have the whole mall to hit."
Many residents waited in front of Old Navy at 830 Grand Central Ave. long before the store's midnight opening. This was the third year the store opened just as Black Friday began.
Shoppers walk around the Grand Central Mall around midnight for the start of Black Friday sales. The crowds died down a little bit as Friday morning progressed, but the stream of shoppers continued to be heavier than normal throughout the day, officials said. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
While thousands waited in line in the early morning hours for stores to open, many more went to the Grand Central Mall and other stores later in the day.
Tracy Taylor of Parkersburg waited in line at Old Navy where she was among the first in line.
"I want to get the new Mario game and fleeces and Old Navy is my main stop," she said. "I have been doing Black Friday shopping for the past six or so years because you get such good deals."
Wal-Mart, which opened at 8 p.m. Thursday, was filled with shoppers looking to get a television or other holiday gifts at a good price.
An estimated 147 million shoppers plan to hit the stores this weekend across the country, according to the industry trade group the National Retail Federation.
The day, called Black Friday by retailers, is known as one of the biggest shopping days of the year with more than 100 million Americans expected to visit stores.
The day after Thanksgiving has been used as a promotional blitz and a start to the holiday shopping season by retailers since the 1970s.
Stores cut prices and open early to lure shoppers. Many stores were filled wall-to-wall.
Police reported few problems.
"We had a couple of shoplifting issues overnight, but it has been going pretty good, so far, for us," said Sgt. Greg Collins with the Parkersburg Police Department.
The Vienna Police Department also reported minor problems, said Officer Robert Nichols.
"So far it has been pretty quiet," Nichols said. "I'm surprised that we haven't really had any calls all day and that's not typical for a Black Friday."
Collins said that in Parkersburg, officials are waiting for the shoe to drop.
"We're always on pins and needles because it can always break loose at any time," he said.
Nichols said there were few traffic problems despite the greater traffic volume through Vienna.
"It is a typical Black Friday for the number of people coming to our city," he said.