By the time Target opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Venessa Huntington and her family were at the front of the line. They’d been waiting five hours.
“This is our family time,” she said, her face buried in her coat and scarf. “We had our dinner last night so we could do this.”
It was a tradition for the last 15 years, but this Thanksgiving had brought about a quarter of an inch to a half an inch of rainfall across the valley.
The family was one of hundreds in line Thursday for early Black Friday deals.
Cars competed for parking spaces in the full lot, while some of those waiting in line hid under umbrellas and others shivered and watched their breath dissipate into the dark sky as they waited in the cold.
The National Retail Federation estimated that more than 165 million people nationwide would shop Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. Of those, nearly 40 million are expected to shop on Thanksgiving.
Outside Target, security worker Scott Stewart removed the barricades for the throng of holiday shoppers to enter the store, which would close at 2 a.m. and reopen at 7 on Friday.
“Single file. Let’s keep it calm and controlled, there’s plenty of stuff in there,” Stewart said. “Happy Thanksgiving. It’s going to be a good night.”
A family tradition
Huntington and her family were ready. She wheeled her wheelchair inside, knowing she was going to pick up an Xbox, Nintendo Switch and a giant Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen” for her grandchildren.
During the hours they waited, the family of five sipped on hot chocolate and huddled under a blue tarp as rain fell in the valley. For dinner, they shared McDonald’s food and made friends with the people in line.
Inside the store, three women from Mexico City had empty suitcases at the bottom of their shopping carts. They planned to fill all of them with Christmas presents for their kids and take them home to Mexico.
It’s a tradition they’ve kept for the last four years.
“The prices are very good here; our country is too expensive,” Eloisa Deschamps said.
People grabbed boxes holding TVs as if they were cereal boxes. Ken Hiranrak, his brother, Pat, and their friend Juan Vazquez hoisted a 60-inch television for $399 in their shopping cart. They had planned to get a 50-inch model, but the store had already run out within minutes.
“This is going in the living room,” Ken Hiranrak said. “I’m not buying a TV for another decade. Thank you, Black Friday.”
‘The advertisers get us’
Although the Meadows mall had opened at 6 p.m., JCPenney opened their doors at 2. Crew members were passing out coupons for the first 1,500 customers and ran out within the first half hour.
Sears, which is set to close next year, still participated in Black Friday, with up to 40 percent off. But at about 6:30, Sears and many other department stores in the mall were sparse with customers.
“I don’t know if the rain kept them away,” said one Macy’s worker, January.
It was still good enough for Chris Perez and his girlfriend, Ana Jimenez, to buy necessary household items for their new place.
“The advertisers get us,” Perez said. “We’re going to have Thanksgiving dinner after this.”
Many shoppers at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North off Grand Central Parkway also weren’t deterred by the rain. Most used their bags as umbrellas as they sprinted across the outdoor mall with their treasures in tow.
One group of shoppers from Canada purchased umbrellas to help as they dodged for discounts. They celebrate their Thanksgiving in May. Another woman, Poojah Jhamb and her 14-year-old daughter, Ahana, were visiting from Washington, D.C.
“We’re Indian, so we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving,” she said. “We came for the shopping. Maybe tomorrow we’ll have a little taste of turkey.”
Nearby, Matty De Los Reyes, a salesman at the Refresh Shoe kiosk, tried to stay dry during his 10-hour shift. The kiosk would stay open until 4 a.m.
“For us, this rain is not good; nobody wants to get their shoes cleaned,” he said as the kiosk roof dripped water into a bucket. “But it’s been busier than every other night, so that’s all that matters.”