Sociologists will look back on 2011 as the year the name changed from Black Friday to Black Thursday Night.
Bellies barely full of turducken, hundreds of Tri-Valley shoppers descended on store parking lots mid-afternoon Thursday to wait for midnight openings. It was the first year so many stores opened their doors this early, rather than making people wait until 4 a.m. for fantastic deals.
Target offered a 46-inch television for $200. promised Blu-Ray players for a mere $30, prompting many people to pitch tents outside in the cold. Deals like this only come along once a year, bringing out shoppers who don't care about bathroom breaks or even hunger. Well, at first anyway.
Overheard in line at in Dublin around 6 p.m. Thursday night:
"We need to call dad and have him bring us some turkey sandwiches," a teenaged girl said to her brother.
"I'm getting hungry again."
The pair was waiting in line for televisions because they'd already eaten and had nothing else to do.
Then, people standing in line started needing bathrooms. Several headed out to next door a couple hours before midnight, only to find security guards metering crowds. Only X number of people were allowed inside at a given time, and bathroom needs were no excuse to break the rules, they said.
So, the throng ended up at a Chevron gas station across from Hooters, where there was already a line of shoppers excitedly discussing their "I want" lists while waiting for restrooms.
Then doors opened across the Tri-Valley and it was pandemonium. Many got everything they needed for Christmas by 1 a.m.
While stores brimmed with customers, parking lots outside were worse for the wear, with bits of trash strewn this way and that. It looked like a post-concert scene at in Dublin, giving off a feeling like something important had just happened. Maybe not Woodstock, but close.
By 4:30 a.m., the line at Dublin's wrapped around the building. SUVs packed with ping pong tables and other toys stopped one by one at the drive-up speaker to order fries and Whoppers. Shopping kicks up an appetite, and many weren't finished yet.
Most stores at opened at 4 a.m. Friday — an hour earlier than last year. Sephora offered 10 things for $10 but by around 10 a.m., girls working the front had nothing to say to people asking about deals.
"Everything's pretty much gone," one sales associate said. She turned to her co-worker. "I'm just kind of telling people about the gift baskets."
H&M had some items for as low as $5. offered 40 percent off espresso makers. The store was packed, but is that different from any other day?
Outside, parking lots were jammed, and valet attendants were running back and forth. It was like that scene in Father of the Bride where the two boys create a logjam in Steve Martin's front yard.
But if you know what you want and you're willing to deal with the crowds, Black Thursday-slash-Friday is gold.
Sisters Maggie Seidel of Sedona, Ariz., and Jeanette Kruger of Pleasanton bought each other cashmere sweaters at for 75 percent off, then 25 percent off.
"We didn't get up early enough to do the really crazy shopping, but we did get each other Christmas gifts," said Seidel, while her sister rooted around in her purse for the rest of her list.
"We weren't even looking for them," she said.
To see more photos of the shopping mayhem Thursday night, .