Shortly before 6 a.m. Friday, Mary Lucchese of Guelph, Ont., sat outside the Ann Taylor Factory Store in the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls waiting for three friends.
At her feet were a collection of shopping bags from Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Roots and Tommy Hilfiger, among others.
"If you saw the car, this is nothing," said Julia McGrath, as she returned to where her friends were sitting.
The foursome came hunting for bargains on one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. They came to town Thursday afternoon and on Black Friday morning – about 15 hours later – they still hadn't slept.
Their shopping mission ends at about 3 p.m. Friday, when they plan to crash at a hotel in Buffalo.
But for others, the scramble for deals will continue over the weekend.
Tara Smith of Mississaugua, Ont., has been shopping at the outlet mall in the Town of Niagara on Black Friday for about a dozen years. Her shopping party arrived in town Thursday afternoon and hit Kohl's, Target and Walmart. They got to the outlets about 6 a.m. Friday, when some stores reopened after closing overnight for several hours. Some stores in the mall had stayed open since 6 p.m. Thursday.
"We still have a few stores to go," Smith said, noting she's planning on going back to Kohl's again after the outlet mall. She also didn't sleep a wink all night.
There really weren't any lines Friday morning, Smith said. It was a little bit busier Thursday. She said she got to Kohl's at about 5 p.m. and was about the 15th person in line for the store's opening at 6 p.m.
The outlet Friday was much calmer than it used to be on previous Black Fridays, she noted. Parking lots used to be so packed she had to park down the road on Factory Outlet Boulevard and take a shuttle to shop.
Liz Kuciel of Buffalo came shopping to the outlets on Black Friday with her daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. They arrived at about 3 a.m., Kuciel said, and have been coming the last five or six years.
"It's become a tradition," she said. After a day of cooking for Thanksgiving, she said she got about three hours of sleep before heading out to the mall.
Kelly Jantzi of Hamburg has shopped on Black Friday with her friend Claire Whieldon going back six or seven years. It's the crazy bargains that bring her out early, Jantzi said. She called Black Friday "the best day" to shop all year.
Jantzi said she and her husband stopped at Walmart on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner, so she was already warmed up when she left for the outlets around 3 a.m.
"If you come by 4 [a.m.], everyone's gone, like the crazy people," Jantzi said.
Vishal Bhushan came to shop at the outlets with his father and sister at about 5 a.m. It's the same place his mother, Rita, shopped for 25 years, driving down from Toronto where the family lives. His mom would come Black Friday-shopping either with his sister, his dad or with him, he said.
"She used to come here every year," Bhushan said.
Rita Bhushan died earlier this year. So the rest of her family decided to come shopping together on Black Friday, said Vishal Bhushan, who now lives in Vancouver.
Taking a break in the food court while his father and sister were in The Gap, Vishal Bhushan admits he's not really a shopper.
"My wife does the shopping. I just watch," he said. "I'm like, 'Here's the card. Go nuts.'"