5:30 a.m. The sky was black. The store was dark. But 200 people were standing in a windy line. They had holiday shopping that had to start before the crack of dawn.
Tonalea Hall was in line with her friend Laura Wedel. "We made out a game plan last night," Hall said. She looked at her shopping list and said, "We're ready. We're ready to go."
At the front of the line was Rodney Thompson. He showed up early for one reason. "The prices are really great," he said. "That's the motivation."
6:00 a.m. Doors opened. Let the holiday shopping season officially begin.
Nancy Franchek made sure her husband had his orders.
"I gave him a pep talk at 5:45 on where to go and what to get first," she said. At the top of the Mr. Franchek's list was a telescope. He grabbed it, and rushed back to his wife's position in the check out line.
He knew where she was because the Francheks had walkie talkies. Mrs. Franchek said, "We can get double the work done in half the time with our walkie talkies."
The check out line was something to behold. It started at the front door, and wound its way around the three main walkways in the store. For a while, the estimated time to get to the check out counter was one hour.
Luana Guillotte and a relative figured out the best way to wait and still shop. "I got the buggy," Guillotte said. "I got in line and she was doing the shopping. So you need to people to shop."
Some shoppers got lost in the stacks of holiday toys they purchased. The economy may be soft, and the country may be a bit shaken, but Sandy Dawson said the shopping must go on. "I don't think we should let that deter us from doing what we do every year," Dawson said.
She had two bags of toys in her hands. And she had more shopping to do. "I'm not going to spend anything different," Dawson said.
One store down. Others about to open. Time for more holiday shopping. After all, it was just 6:30 a.m.
According to analysts, retail sales will only jump 3 percent over the holidays. If that's the case, it would be the slowest holiday growth period since 1990.