In the Tri-Cities, Black Friday meant waves of green for happy retailers and a sea of cars for hectic shoppers.
"This is my third trip to the car," said Mary Garcia of Othello as she trudged through the Columbia Center mall parking lot, both hands loaded with shopping bags. "You'd think I'd remember where it was by now. I've been here since 4 a.m. I wanted to be sure to hit the sales before everything was gone."
She was buying clothes and gifts for her family.
"But I found a few things for myself too," she admitted.
Looking out her office window at the parking lot, Columbia Center General Manager Barbara Johnson said, "It was like this when I came in at 3:30 a.m."
Thirty of the 120 stores at the mall opened at midnight Friday, while the rest unlocked their doors at 4 a.m. Johnson was surprised at how many families were among the early morning crowd.
"When I got here, all the mall's strollers -- 24 -- were gone from the rack. Out on the mall, I'd pass one, baby sound asleep, as mom pushed it along," Johnson said.
At Old Navy, one of the stores that opened at midnight, store manager Claire Clark pointed at the south mall entrance.
"There were probably 800 people waiting at that door," Clark said. "And that's just this door."
At one point, Clark said, the line of people waiting to pay at Old Navy stretched from the registers at the front to the back wall and back to the front.
"We had over a hundred people just waiting in line," Clark said. "And there was a line waiting to get into the store too."
Clark said the crowd at Old Navy peaked between midnight and 3 a.m. But at 9 a.m., the lines still were 20 to 30 shoppers deep, and clerks' fingers were flying on the cash registers.
That was the case in almost every store at the mall Friday morning.
Handing out bags to shoppers, Loretta Mitzel, sales associate at Bath & Body Works said, "It looks like Saturday afternoon here. ... It's good to see people out shopping, taking advantage of the sales, supporting the economy."
Lyndsay Maciboba of Lacey was visiting relatives for Thanksgiving -- and doing a little shopping.
"I typically come out for the early morning specials," she said.
Maciboba had been out since 4:30 a.m. and already had visited Walmart, Fred Meyer, Kohl's, Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond before her sister Julie Maciboba of Kennewick joined her at the mall.
Asked what was on her shopping list, Lyndsay said, "Truthfully, I bought presents for myself and some for my sister."
Shoppers were taking advantage of the deals to buy something for themselves at Best Buy in Kennewick too. When store manager Mitch Davis opened the doors at midnight, he faced a crowd of several hundred, many looking for the store's "doorbuster" special, a Sharp 42-inch HDTV for $200.
"We sold through them quickly, but there's a lot of good buys left in the store," Davis said. "Sales have been fantastic. This is a good year despite the economy. People are definitely out to shop this year."
Mike Hinkley of West Richland didn't get in on the doorbuster special but was happy to pay $400 for the 42-inch Insignia flat-screen TV in his cart.
"I paid more for a 36-inch TV two years ago," he said. "I've been wanting one and figured Black Friday was my best chance on a deal."
Dulleya Woods of Finley also profited on Best Buy's Friday specials. She scooped up a color printer for $50.
"That's half off, and I got the last one on the shelf," Woods said. "I've been wanting one. I have about 500 photos loaded on my laptop that I've got to print off."
At REI in Kennewick, people began lining up at the door before 8 a.m., hoping to take advantage of the winter sale.
"We don't have any dramatic doorbuster sales, but we did open two hours early, and sales are doing OK," said supervisor Dan Cazel. "People are buying a bit of everything. I think they're getting ready for snow."
At Charlie Griggs' stores -- Griggs Department Store in Pasco and two Ace Hardware stores in Richland -- sales are great, he said.
Griggs opened the stores at the usual time and said some people were waiting for doors to open at the Ace outlets.
"Tools and basics like clothing, sporting goods -- the things we're into -- are selling really well," Griggs said. "Sales are a little better today than other days, but this typically is not our best day of the year. That comes usually just before Christmas."
"There are more people out today, but they aren't necessarily spending more dollars. They're out looking for those limited-quantity, rock-bottom deals," Griggs said.
And shoppers will get another chance today to find gifts during the second annual Small Business Saturday -- an event created by American Express that urges shoppers to spend at small, locally owned retail businesses.