As family members clustered in the kitchen preparing turkey and baking pumpkin pies, Danielle Ruby and her aunt Roshelle Thompson sneaked away to Old Navy early Thanksgiving afternoon.
As the pair scoured through a heaping pile of sweatshirts, the nearest customer was in the next isle.
"I think it's great. You don't have to stand in lines with everybody shoving and grabbing," Thompson said.
Thompson and her niece weren't the only ones with the same idea.
As more businesses have begun opening their doors early before the Black Friday dash, some locals say Thanksgiving Day shopping is a way to beat the crowds and still spend time with family. The holiday saw plenty of shoppers, as some stores began their Black Friday frenzies even before the strike of midnight.
At Old Navy, customers were browsing calmly through 45 percent off sales and other bargains Thursday afternoon. A handful of people were in line checking out and only three employees were at the registers.
Kim Mann said she liked the option of being able to get a head start on her Christmas shopping.
"I would go to more stores if they were open," she said.
Karen Hall, of Fort Oglethorpe, thumbed through the piles of clothes with her 11-year-old daughter, Bethany, at her side around 1 p.m. looking for sales.
"We had [Thanksgiving dinner] earlier in the week with family," Hall said. "We don't have anything going on."
By 5 p.m., lines were swelling along Gunbarrel Road as customers prepared for late-night and early-morning deals.
Some Walmart customers perused the aisles in search of their most prized items, which already were shrink-wrapped and sprinkled throughout the store. Inside, a handful of customers began lining up in the barricaded housewares aisles for an Xbox 360 Kinect bundle advertised at $99.96.
A few blocks away about a dozen people waited outside in anticipation of Target's midnight opening. The line was quarantined between crowd-control barricades. Store employees said Wednesday that customers would be let into Target in increments until lines outside thinned.
The largest line was visible at Best Buy, where customers have been waiting since Monday for sales on electronics.
At Toys R Us, about 15 huddled outside for the store's 9 p.m. opening.
Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...