By 5:40 a.m. on Friday, Cletus Grannon had dropped off his wife at Old Navy on Hamilton Place Boulevard and was just a few doors down, standing in line outside Academy Sports and Outdoors.
"I made her get up because she doesn't like to get up early," said Grannon, who is from Cleveland, Tennessee. "She didn't want to stand in the cold."
Grannon and his son Corbin, 17, were on the hunt for crossbows and muck boots. "We aren't much for tying our shoes," Grannon said.
The crossbows normally cost $400 but were on sale Friday for $149, Grannon said. Their next stop was Tractor Supply. "They have the best deal on boots," he said. His wife's plans for the rest of the morning were simple: "She's going to take a nap."
Black Friday crowdsView 20 Photos
The Grannons were among the nearly 115 million people who planned to shop on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation. The crowds at Hamilton Place mall were big, but there weren't any repeats of last year's infamous siege on Victoria's Secret, said Taylor Bostwick, the mall's marketing director.
"There's less of that drama going on, but I'm seeing pretty steady, healthy crowds," she said. "I'm seeing a lot of matching shirts, people with their whole family. It's their tradition to get together, get some deals and revel in the festivity."
BY THE NUMBERS
114.6 million: People who plan to shop on Black Friday
66.6 million: People who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday
33.3: People who plan to shop on Sunday
Waiting for the doors to open at 6 a.m. outside the mall's main entrance, Luke Haney was taking his assignment seriously. "I'm protecting the women here, that's my only job," said Haney, 19, who is from Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
His friends McKenzie Stephens and Kaitlyn Johnson, both 17, planned to hit Pink and Victoria's Secret. They were hoping for a peaceful morning, but they were also ready for whatever the Black Friday experience might bring.
"I'll fight somebody," Stephens said, laughing. Haney planned to hang back a bit, but was also keeping his eyes open for deals. "I might get some sweatshirts or a TV," he said.
Savannah Wade, 25, and her niece Riley Pell, 11, stood in vestibule just outside Belk with a crush of other shoppers waiting for the doors to open at 6 a.m.
"I'm just here for the show," Wade said. "We haven't even looked at the ads."
Black Friday shopping in the early hours has been a family tradition for years, said Wade, who lives in East Ridge. "My mom's brought us since I was about 12," she said. Riley was enjoying the morning, but didn't like the waking up part, she said. "I like it, but I'm not a morning person."
Also crammed into the Belk vestibule were friends Miles Cooper, 17, Chris Bishop, 19, Maddie Gann, 17, and Sammy Poteet, 17. The teenagers from Soddy-Daisy had pulled an all-nighter, picking up Bishop from his 3 p.m. to midnight Thanksgiving shift at Walmart and heading to Waffle House to get caffeinated for the shopping adventure.
"We usually go together," Cooper said. "I don't really have a game plan. I'm just going to enjoy everyone else being really serious about this. I saw two ladies fighting over a rice cooker once."
In the shoe department at Belk, Kiki Hill was making a purchase by 6:07 a.m. — a pair of brightly hued Jessica Simpson pumps. "I was here at 4 a.m.," said Hill, 39, of Chattanooga. "I'm very energetic. This is the first year I've done this. I kind of just know what I want."
Nearby, Janet Womack, of Dallas, Texas, was shopping for boots with her sister, Greta Haney, of Ider, Alabama. The women have been coming Black Friday shopping since they were teenagers with their mother.
"Mom isn't able to do it anymore, but we brought our teenage daughters," Haney said.
Contact Mary Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.