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Triangle Shoppers Make Early Trips To Kick-Off Holiday Buying

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Shoppers throughout central North Carolina turned out to shop early in stores Friday – traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Many stores had special sales that started before the sun came up on the first full day of holiday shopping. If shoppers could brave cool weather – although not as cold as forecast – they stood to reap bargains such as pants that normally cost $16 for 69 cents or laptop computers with instant $250 savings.

The first shoppers of the Christmas season traditionally show up at the Shops of Smithfield, a group of outlet stores near Interstates 95 and 40. As usual, dozens stood in line around 11 p.m. Thursday for the opening of the shops at midnight Friday.

Elsewhere, other stores such saw large crowds gathering for their opening later on Friday morning.

The Circuit City near Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh had a full parking lot at 4:15 a.m. – more packed than it usually is on any typical Saturday afternoon.

At a Best Buy in North Raleigh, rock-bottom laptop, digital camera and Ipod prices lured more than 100 people to a line before 5 a.m. The line buzzed with talk of the waiting deals inside – many people talking with strangers about what they were scoping out inside.

Best Buy workers paced the line outside offering sales circulars and updates on what was likely to be sold out. Some shoppers left early when they learned there would clearly not be enough of what they were hoping to buy. A few went on to shop elsewhere – not back to bed.

Meanwhile, about 100 people lined up in freezing weather outside the Super Target in Apex. They were served doughnuts by a store employee minutes before the 6 a.m. opening.

Meredith Carter, 29, a social worker from Apex, took the first spot in line when she arrived around 4:50 a.m., about 10 minutes after the veteran Black Friday shopper woke up.

By 6:05 a.m., she was buying one of two items on her list: a Kodak Easy Share digital camera for $89.99, saving about 50 percent. She was then off to find a George Foreman grill, also at 50 percent off.

"I plan to get what I want and go home," she said.

This year’s season was the first that widespread word of post-Thanksgiving sales leaked on Web sites. The sales circulars typically only arrive in newspapers on Thanksgiving, but weeks ago sales information showed up on various Web site, possibly contributing to some of the shopping hysteria Friday.

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