The holiday shopping season is officially here. And judging by the lines at local retailers, shoppers were happy with the deals they were finding on Black Friday.
Sales events started at 8 p.m. Thursday at Walmart and continued throughout the evening and into the weekend.
Just hours after celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with family, Ken and Austin Lawson of Dawsonville were among the thousands of shoppers waiting to cash in on the advertised deals.
"My wife wanted a fire pit for the back porch and we were here for the portable DVD players for the car," said Ken Lawson, during his first Black Friday shopping experience.
"I had heard about it, but this has been an eye opener and experience. You actually meet good people out here, trying to save a little bit of money in this economy."
Miranda Pruitt of Dawsonville called the crowds and excitement of Black Friday "craziness," but admitted the prices she was finding made dealing with the crowds worth it.
"It is pretty crazy, but I think it's fun," Pruitt said. "It's a good time, because you can get stuff that you might not be able to afford otherwise for your kids at Christmas, stuff that might have been a little bit too expensive before. When it's on sale, it's a lot easier to get."
At North Georgia Premium Outlets' annual Midnight Madness shopping event, the crowds began lining up as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving in anticipation of savings on reduced outlet prices.
With the promise of 30 percent off and an additional 10 percent for the earliest shoppers, sisters Kristina and Tiffany Grimes were first in line at the Coach Outlet. Nearly 300 people waited behind them to shop at the popular, designer handbag store.
"I'm in it for a purse for myself, and our parents live in Alaska and they don't have a Coach there, so we're buying our mom a purse," Kristina Grimes said.
According to a report by the National Retail Federation, an estimated 147 million people shopped either at stores or online during the Black Friday weekend, which draws its name from an accounting term that indicates retailers have made a profit, or are "in the black."
Christie Haynes, president of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, said she is encouraged by the sheer number of shoppers that packed local businesses and generated thousands of tax dollars.
"Our Dawson County businesses truly offer the perfect gift for all of your loved ones," she said. "Whether you want to seek out the perfect gift at one of our unique boutiques, take advantage of the great savings at the Premium Outlets, or buy a gift certificate for an outdoor or racing adventure, it's all here in Dawson County.
"As you make your shopping lists, please consider supporting our local businesses and economy by shopping local."