On Thanksgiving, longtime friends Belinda Dickerson and Barbara Stokes were thankful for friendship, family and the chance to buy toys for their grandkids at a price that was highly discounted.

With the ink of markers circling the items in the advertisements they carried, the two were lined up at the door at Toys R Us about two hours early and were able to make their purchases when the store opened at 5 p.m.

"This is part of our Thanksgiving tradition," Ms. Stokes said.

Ms. Stokes and Ms. Dickerson were just a few of the many who took advantage of several Black Friday sales that started on Thursday evening, filling many stores in Tyler such as Target, Toys R Us, Best Buy, Kohl's and others.

Many customers who were able to make their desired purchases came prepared.

At Best Buy, some customers started lining up on Wednesday and camped out in front of the store overnight. Michael Faison said he arrived at the Best Buy at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and though he said the experience was not always easy he was able to make his desired purchase.

"At this point it's a tradition," Faison said. "My wife and I have been coming down here for eight years."

Staci Hightower and Linda Lee arrived in line at Toys "R" Us a few hours early and also had an effective strategy.

"We usually make a list and we have everything we need," Ms. Hightower said. "We check all the prices at different stores and get the cheapest one."

Father Tom Jackson, of the Order of Christian Workers, also was present at Toys "R" Us and brought a few family members. They divided up in the store and helped shop for the organization.

"Every year we give Christmas to over 600 kids, the poorest kids in the area so we come out and buy as many gifts as we can at any given time," Father Jackson said.

While many had to work hard to make sure they got their desired purchases, Shane Kitzman, who leads media relations for the Southwest United States at Best Buy, said by opening early, the store was able to give customers a great experience.

"Opening on 5 p.m. Thursday gives us a chance to (put) some great deals on brands that everyone loves into customers hands even earlier," Kitzman said.

Kitzman also said Best Buy will have deals available for those who want to shop for Black Friday deals on Friday, a practice that many stores who started their sales on Thursday also plan to do.

While the experiences of some who participated in Black Friday may have been hectic at times, Janie Mayo, manager of Kohl's in Tyler, believes things went well with the branding and energy at her store and she has a simple description of the day.

"It was a beautiful crazy," she said.

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