Long lines kick off Black Friday frenzy

Summerville resident Lesley Dockweiler got in line at Toys R Us at 7 p.m. Thursday to get a Barbie Power Wheels car for her 3 year old daughter.

UPDATE:

MOUNT PLEASANT -- If you're planning on heading to Town Centre, bring your patience. As of 2 p.m., parking remains at a premium, which is to say nearly impossible to find. Be prepared to spend upwards of half an hour if you want to park close to the store you are looking to shop in.

Debra Grant, whose shift at Bed, Bath & Beyond began at 11 a.m., says things have calmed down inside her store as the hours have passed. "We’re busy, but it's not crazy," she said.

Chandler Chakides of Charleston usually has not shopped on Black Friday, but sister-in-law Maria Chakides of Columbia took her out to the stores.

"I spent $400 and saved $400 at Belk," Maria said.

She said she found great deals on men’s and women’s sweaters.

EARLIER:

For many Charleston-area shoppers, Black Friday sales grabs began late Thursday night as retailers -- desperate for consumers' holiday cash in the poor economy -- opened their doors earlier than last year.

Travel was heavy along Rivers Avenue around the larger stores, and the parking areas were packed.

Tanger Outlet Center in North Charleston opened for business at 10 p.m., two hours earlier than last year, and parking there was hectic. Traffic was gridlocked even in the far reaches of the Tanger lots at 10:45.

Toys R Us opened its doors at 9 p.m., an hour earlier than last year.

Hundreds waited in line at the Toys R Us, with the line stretching all around the parking lot. Summerville resident Lesley Dockweiler and her neighbor Amy Smith finally got into the Toys R Us in North Charleston at about 9:45 p.m., after waiting in line for more than two hours at the door.

Dockweiler wanted to buy a rideable Barbie Mustang convertible for her 3-year-old daughter.

"She's been telling everyone who even resembles Santa that's what she wants," Dockweiler said.

By 10, hundreds of people were in the line. Some huddled to stay warm, while others sipped hot cocoa from mugs.

Only 500 shoppers were allowed in the store at a time. A store employee said that those at the end of the line could expect to wait two hours to get in.

Target unlocked its doors at midnight for the first time, while Walmart -- open around the clock -- began its Black Friday specials at 10 p.m.

By 9 p.m., more than 30 people already were in line at Target in West Ashley, even though it wouldn't open for another three hours.

Raven Prioleau of Goose Creek said she waited in line for two hours at Walmart at Centre Pointe Drive to get deals on Christmas presents for her five children, who range in age from 2 to 12.

"It was worth it," she said. "I got a baby doll set and a bunch of video games."

She said some things she had wanted to buy were sold out, particularly video games, by the time she got into the store, well before midnight.

Other businesses opened much earlier in the day. Wasting no time, Old Navy opened at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, and Michael's craft stores opened at 4 p.m.

In the North Charleston shopping plaza, Brittany Palmer from Eutawville made Old Navy her third shopping stop. She started at 2 a.m.

"I'm just looking for really good deals," Palmer said.

Next door, Best Buy portable electronics associate Danielle Bradshaw, wearing an elf hat, said people lined up for $199 flatscreens beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

"They pitched tents and brought coolers," Bradshaw said. "Our manager bought them pizza."

The store only had 30 TVs to sell at that price, but Bradshaw said customers came for cheap cameras and DVD players, plus free accessories. She said most of the crowd had died down by 4 a.m.

By 6 a.m., police cars remained to guide motorists around the area, but traffic at the North Charleston shopping centers was practically clear.

Across the Lowcountry, the hunt for Black Friday deals went on.

• Susan Lincoln from Galena, OH is staying with seven family members on Kiawah Island over the holiday. Several hours into her shopping, Lincoln said the crowds are not as severe as she expected.

"I also think that in recent years, the closer you get to Christmas, the better the bargains are," Lincoln said outside of the Citadel Mall this morning. "I don't think Black Friday is THE one and only day any more."

• Teresa Gentiluomo, 53, West Ashley, hit the stores in the middle of the night, saw the crowds, then drove back home and went to bed.

"It has been a mad house. Wal-Mart was awful. Nothing was organized. It was terrible. So I left there and came to Target — line was around the building at ten minutes until 11 p.m. I just couldn't do it. So I went home, got up early and I'm out again this morning.

"I did really good. I got every single thing I wanted."

• Julie DuPree of James Island and her mother, Toni Catoe, of Folly Beach, finished some of their Black Friday Christmas shopping about 9 a.m. and were heading to Citadel Mall to meet DuPree's daugthter.

They said their original plans were to begin shopping Wednesday night about 10 p.m. and work their way to 3 a.m. meet-up, but over the course of the evening the plans changed several times and they met about 7:45 a.m.

"I have three kids, and there's usually one item on the agenda but this year we didn't have an agenda," DuPree said.

• Reba Jarvis of James Island arrived at the West Ashley Stein Mart for the early bird specials. She was purchasing jeans and shirts for her teen sons at the store, where there were no lines. Plenty of empty parking spaces could be found throughout St. Andrews Shopping Center, where the store is located.

• Terri Ryan, of West Ashley, was out shopping for the "thrill of the hunt," she says. Stein Mart on Savannah Highway was her latest stop on an early morning run that netted a microwave at Sears, laptop at Office Depot, DVR at Target and a motorized car from Belk. At SteinMart, where there was a steady trickle of customers, she picked up two sweaters. Tally? $500 to $600.

• Mo Yousefzadeh, of Mount Pleasant, emerged from the Belk store in Towne Centre laden with shopping bags before 10 a.m., having already finished most of his holiday shopping.

"We're almost done," he said. "We're trying to help the local economy."

Allyson Bird, Andy Lyons, Wevonneda Minis, David Slade and Tommy Braswell contributed to this report.

Layaway

Know the payment terms.

Know the penalties.

Keep good records.

Online shopping

Know who you are dealing with. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number before you buy.

Know what you are buying and what it will cost, including shipping and handling.

Check the terms and conditions, including return policy, shipping costs and restocking fees.

Pay by credit or charge card for the best consumer protection and to reduce liability.

Use antivirus or anti-spyware software and a firewall; update them regularly.

General tips

Buy gift cards from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites because they could be fake.

Get a copy of the store’s return/refund policy.

Track your finances. Stick to a budget. Review bank statements for unauthorized purchases.

S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs/www.scconsumer.gov

Stores and shopping centers that typically draw big crowds on Black Friday will open at different hours. Hours for some chain stores vary. For stores not listed, call them or check their websites.

Black Friday

American Eagle: Midnight-10 p.m., malls; 4:15 a.m.-9 p.m., Mount Pleasant

Apple Store: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Barnes & Noble: 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; Mount Pleasant store, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Bed, Bath & Beyond: 5 a.m.-9 p.m.; Mount Pleasant store, 5 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Belk: 3 a.m.-10 p.m.

Berlin's: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Best Buy: midnight-10 p.m.

Big Lots: 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Bob Ellis Shoes: 9:15 a.m.-6 p.m.

Brookstone: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Citadel and Northwoods malls: 4 a.m.-10 p.m. (Individual store hours vary. Several non-anchor merchants open at midnight.)

Dick's Sporting Goods: 4:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

Dillard's: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dress Barn: 10 p.m. Thursday to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Tanger; 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Summerville

Dollar General: 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dollar Tree: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Family Dollar: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Forever 21: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

HH Gregg: midnight-10 p.m.

Home Depot: 5 a.m.-9 p.m.

JC Penney: 4 a.m.-11 p.m.

Kmart: 5 a.m.-11 p.m.

Kohl's: midnight-midnight

Lacoste: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Louis Vuitton: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Lowe's: 5 a.m.-10 p.m.

M. Dumas & Sons: 6 a.m.-8 p.m.

Michael's: 5 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Morris Sokol Furniture: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Mount Pleasant Towne Centre: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. for stores not otherwise listed.

Old Navy: 10 p.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Friday, Tanger; midnight-11 p.m. Mount Pleasant and Rivers Avenue.

Sears: 4 a.m.-9 p.m.

Tanger Outlet Center: 10 p.m. Thursday to 9 p.m. Friday (most stores)

Target: Midnight-11 p.m.

Toys R Us: 9 p.m. Thursday-10 p.m. Friday

Ulta: 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Mount Pleasant; midnight-10 p.m., Summerville

Walmart: Open 24 hours, sales specials on electronics start at midnight

Williams-Sonoma: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

World Market: 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Saturday

American Eagle: 10 a.m.-9 p.m., malls; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mount Pleasant

Apple: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Barnes & Noble: 9 a.m.-11 p.m.

Bed, Bath & Beyond: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Mount Pleasant, 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Belk: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Berlin's: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Best Buy: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Big Lots: 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

Bob Ellis Shoes: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Brookstone: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Citadel and Northwoods malls: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. (Individual store hours vary.)

Dillard's: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dick's Sporting Goods: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dollar General: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Dollar Tree: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dress Barn: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Family Dollar: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Forever 21: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

HH Gregg: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Home Depot: 6 a.m.-9 p.m.

JC Penney: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Kmart: 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Kohl's: 6 a.m.-midnight

Lacoste: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Louis Vuitton: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Lowe's: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

M. Dumas & Sons: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Michael's: 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Morris Sokol Furniture: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Old Navy: 10 p.m.-9 p.m., Tanger; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Mount Pleasant; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Rivers Avenue.

Sears: 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Tanger Outlet Center: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Target: 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Toys R Us: 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

Ulta: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Walmart: Open 24 hours

Williams-Sonoma: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

World Market: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.