For those who eschewed the mall crowds, there was shopping to be had along the sidewalks of downtown Lafayette.
Pendleton on Mount Diablo Boulevard had a number of shoppers sampling woolens as it offered a $25 gift card with $100 in purchases. And if you bought a fine woolen men's shirt, you could get a Beach Boys Greatest Hits CD. Pendleton manager Tanya Dacanay said she had good vibrations with several shoppers lined up ready to come in the door at 9 a.m. Friday.
"This time there was a better response (to the gift card offer)," said Dacanay. "I had customers right out of the gate. Fantastic."
Downtown Walnut Creek was buzzing with Black Friday shoppers, coming from near and far.
Renae Schüler journeyed from Chico to visit her cousins in Walnut Creek. The shopping is sparse in Chico, so she plans for her trips in Walnut Creek. In Friday's case, she knew she needed winter clothing, and she scored "eight or nine shirts" and a sweater by 12:30 p.m. Friday. It was also a delayed birthday shopping expedition — her birthday was a month ago.
The line was bigger in the special opening at 9 p.m. Thursday (that's Thanksgiving) at the Target store in Walnut Creek. More than 300 were in a line that snaked around the front of the store. This is part of a trend of creep from Black Friday to very gray Thursday with stores able to entice shoppers out at the end of Turkey Day.
"Black Friday is moving earlier and earlier," according to Dale Achabal, the executive director at the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. He said sales are becoming more elaborate and the day is something of a social event, a way for many families to get together and kick off the holidays.
The term "Black Friday" for the busy (reputedly the busiest on the calendar) shopping day after Thanksgiving goes back to the 1960s and a term used by Philadelphia police for the headaches and long shifts that the day brought.
The website ShopperTrak predicts that, once the receipts are in, Black Friday 2012 will be the busiest shopping day of the year.