It's 6 a.m., and the parking lot at Marshall Town Center is still dark. But nearly 150 people have already lined up outside JC Penney for Black Friday deals. Many of the stores opened at midnight.
Ken Huge, general manager for the mall, said the morning crowd was about what he expected.
The mall gave away 100 gift bags, 25 of which had $20 gift cards, at 7 a.m. Mall management will give away another 100 bags tomorrow at 9 a.m. Of those 100, 50 will have $20 gift cards.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
People line up at Marshall Town Center Friday morning to collect one of 100 gift bags. Twenty five of those bags contained $25 gift cards. Several stores throughout Marshalltown began Black Friday sales at midnight.
No major incidents occurred as of 7 a.m. when the mall itself - as opposed to the shops in the mall - opened.
"All things considered it's been fine," Huge said of the notorious day-after-Thanksgiving shopping holiday.
Shoppers Tani Lane and Connie Long, both of Marshalltown, were out doing some Christmas shopping.
Lane said the shopping holiday starts the holiday season off with a bang. She said the shopping always starts with a list, that is, until it starts to drift.
"The more you shop for Christmas, the more you shop for yourself," she said.
"Just because it's on sale doesn't mean you have to buy it," Long said.
The two shared a laugh. Both said Black Friday deals make it worth their time to come out to the mall before the sun rises.
Staff at Maurices said they were expecting a good turnout. However, since the store only sells clothes and accessories and because they don't have bargain basement deals like stores such as Walmart, they didn't anticipate any typical Black Friday chaos.
Out on Iowa Avenue West, Shaphan Smith, general manager at Menards, said when the store opened at 5 a.m., the line was around the store's corner. Every one of his employees worked Black Friday.
"It's all hands on deck," he said. "It's exciting."
Anna Welton, of Marshalltown, said she came out to Menards to get some presents for her grandchildren and her husband. She said Menards had almost everything she wanted. She planned to make another stop at Radio Shack and call it quits for the day.
Everyone she dealt with was very polite, she added.
Within the first two hours, Smith said, the store sold out of two big ticket items: a $500 gun safe and a 32-inch TV.
Smith said this was his first Black Friday at the Marshalltown store. He came from the St. Joseph store, which he said sees more traffic. However, relative to scale, he said it was more or less a typical Black Friday turnout.