COLUMBIA — At 3:30 a.m. on Black Friday, more than 70 people were waiting in line at the Old Navy located at 207 N. Stadium Blvd.
Taylor Allen, one of 30 employees working the Black Friday sale at Old Navy, said close to 800 people were standing outside the store when it opened at midnight.
“The line wrapped around the store,” Allen said. “It was ridiculous.”
In the first hour, she said, the wait at the cash register was 80 minutes.
Thousands of customers in Columbia were willing to endure an early wake-up call and sub-freezing temperatures Friday to grab discounted items.
Some stores pushed opening times back to 3 a.m. — some others even earlier — to lure customers with bargains on toys, appliances, electronics, clothing and more.
Macy's opened at 4 a.m., and Leo Terzopoulo and Jackson Akyol were the first in line.
“This is my first time doing this,” Terzopoulo said. “It was kind of a spur-of-the- moment decision. We decided around 10:30 that we were gonna do it.”
The two high school students arrived at 1 a.m. to be the first to buy winter jackets.
Both were prepared. They were warmly dressed and relied on their late-night habits to remain alert.
“We’re used to staying up pretty late,” Terzopoulo said. “We just went to our houses and bundled up.”
At 3:45 a.m., Best Buy had 200 to 300 people waiting patiently in line.
At the front, two women were sheltered inside a tent. Determined to snap up deals, Beatrice Kelrick and Melinda Motter began camping at 7:45 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
“We are out here to get numerous awesome products,” Motter said. “With our tent, we were able to sleep over two hours. I slept amazing.”
The two planned accordingly for the cold weather and long night.
“We got a backpack with snacks, Diet Coke, and a video camera where we have been doing hourly updates,” Kelrick said.
It was Kelrick's fourth year participating in Black Friday shopping; it was Motter's first. With their budgeted purchases, Kelrick expected to save $150 and Motter $280.
Their advice for these shopping excursions:
“Come early and don’t underestimate how crazy people are about this stuff,” Kelrick said.
“Hand warmers,” Motter said. “And bring your best friend.”