Early-bird shoppers at Bass Pro Shops in northeast Columbia have been invited to camp in the parking lot Thursday to get a jump on this year's Black Friday sale.
Shoppers can pitch their tents after 5 p.m. while the company sets up fire pits and serves hot chocolate and s'mores. Bass Pro calls the event The Great Turkey Campout.
"We found that our diehard Black Friday fans would line up at 1 a.m. or earlier," said Andrea Walters, a spokeswoman for the company. "So we thought we'd have something for them to do, have a little fun."
Walters said Bass Pro will offer games and raffles and make a few tents available to customers who wish to nap before shopping Friday morning.
At 5 a.m., campers will be greeted by carolers, cookies and coffee. The store, located at 3101 Bass Pro Drive, will open the doors at 6.
Businesses typically open early on the day after Thanksgiving, known nationwide as Black Friday. Kohl's in Columbia and elsewhere will open at 4 a.m., for example, Macy's at 5 a.m., Target and Home Depot at 6 a.m.
Sam's Club opens at 5 a.m. Friday with a free breakfast of coffee, juice and cinnamon rolls.
Black Friday, the kickoff for the holiday shopping season, is known for store discounts and sales and is considered one of the biggest paydays of the year.
There is no consensus about the origin of the name. Some say it derives from Black Tuesday, the day in 1929 when the stock market fell, similar to the way prices fall on Black Friday.
Others say the name refers to the accounting practice of listing losses in red ink and profits in black.
To entice customers, stores have begun to offer additional incentives besides bargain prices.
"That's what draws people in," said Patty Campbell, a jewelry specialist at the department store. She said the company gives the snow globes away every year to its earliest customers.
This year, the globe features Mickey as a drum major dressed in red with 2008 written on the base in white letters.
At New York & Company, the store is adding a free watch for every apparel purchase while supplies last.
A number of stores in downtown Columbia stick to regular business hours.
"It's very interesting to see how business is the day after Thanksgiving," said Mary Benjamin, a co-owner of Bluestem Missouri Crafts in The District. "It's relaxed down here."
The store plans to participate in The District's 2008 Living Windows Festival on Dec. 5. There will be carriage rides, caroling and chestnut roasting.
"We're looking forward to that," she said. "It's a wonderful family event."
Vespa of Columbia is not opening early but it will remain open after its regular business hours as long as customers are in the store, said salesman Dan Murphy.
"We're going to sell a lot of scooters, hopefully," he said. "That's the plan.
The Peace Nook, which sells organic and fair trade products downtown, takes an unsympathetic view of Black Friday.
"People buy a lot of material things they don't need," said volunteer Noah Meyers.