Deals were the priority of shoppers who lined up before dawn this year.
If you discount, somebody will come.
That was the message shoppers gave retailers in the predawn hours Friday when they lined up for bargains at the official beginning of the holiday shopping season.
Some of those who braved the Black Friday lines, including many first-timers, said the sorry state of the economy drove them from their beds because value shopping is more important than ever this year.
Kris Zacher, a government auditor from Shoreview, was shopping at Herberger's at Rosedale Center in Roseville early Friday. She said she was limiting her gift purchases this year to less than $15 per relative and had asked the rest of her family to do the same. Two of her siblings have recently lost their jobs and another works in real estate, which she said, "is almost like not having a job."
For Zacher, shopping on Black Friday is almost a necessity because it enables her to buy good-quality gifts for less than $15.
"I wouldn't have believed that all of this has happened, but the bottom has really fallen out of the economy," she said.
She was heading to Sears, where she was planning to pick up a tool set and a laser leveler, both for less than $10.
At the Apple Valley Best Buy store, Nam Pradichitch and his friend Trang Bui pitched a tent at 4 p.m. Thanksgiving Day for their fourth annual wait for bargains. Pradichitch, of Farmington, and Bui, of Apple Valley, were shopping for computers for themselves and relatives.
"I was thinking about not showing up this year, but I would save a little money, so I came," Pradichitch said.
Suzy Evans of Farmington, a ways down the line for the 5 a.m. store opening, was another loyal early bird who came with frugality in mind this year. Even though gas prices are low now, the memory of $4 gas is fresh for Evans, "so my family is just looking for more deals, shopping more carefully," she said.
For newcomer Dan Dolezal of Apple Valley, the discount helped make it possible for him to buy the family's first home computer. Dolezal stood in line for 12 hours. His wife and daughters, ages 4 and 8, came about 2 a.m., and between naps in the car stood beside him in the dark.
Nancy Overby of Harmony, Minn., came to the Eagan Target with her daughter, Chris Hongerhold of Elko New Market. They got there before the 6 a.m. opening -- already their third store, after Kohl's and Wal-Mart -- still looking for the DVD player on their list.
At the very front of that line was Dasha Khaletskaia, who came with no particular "doorbuster" specials in mind, "just a lot of good deals," she said. She also happens to work at the store, so she may have needed a nap: She would be helping later shoppers during her Friday work shift -- 2:30 to 11 p.m.