PULLMAN — Sakinah Gibson's first attempt at Black Friday shopping was unbearable.
"It was the worst experience of my life," Gibson said. "It was so crowded I couldn't move. I felt claustrophobic."
Gibson bailed on her first trip to a suburban Walmart, leaving the store empty handed.
"I put all the stuff back. It was way to crowded," she said. "There wasn't even shopping carts. I had to carry my stuff in my hands."
Friday morning, Gibson felt a lot more in her element at the Walmart at 10900 South Doty Avenue in Pullman with a shopping cart full of low-priced goods remembering her original reason to go shopping.
"I got a lot of stuff because I'm moving," she said fumbling through her cart before displaying her prize. "And these little kid pajamas... at a good price."
On the busiest shopping day of the year, Gibson was far from alone in seeking exclusive and limited discounts as Americans flocked to shopping centers. The National Retail Federation estimated approximately 97 million shoppers would hit the aisles on Black Friday. A mere 61 million will shop Saturday, and 34 million on Sunday.
Ruby Johnson "doesn't do Black Friday shopping," but somehow found herself with a bunch of toys in her shopping cart.
Johnson, of Roseland, was planning to get some gas when she passed the new Walmart and remembered she needed a wrist brace.
"If there ain't any parking, I'm not going in there," she said as she pulled into the parking lot.
After finding her wrist brace she lingered through the aisles and found herself in the toy section with a cart half full of dolls for her grandchildren and enough reasons to love and dislike the Walmart.
"Look at what it cost me to leave my house," she said, tittering.
At the Kmart near South Pulaski Road and West 70th Street in West Lawn, the big crowds had died down by the late afternoon, but a steady stream of shoppers continued to search the shelves for holiday deals.
Ariel Lewis-McIntosh stopped by the store with her kids to pick up some holiday gifts for family and some things for around her home.
McIntosh said Kmart was not her first stop of day. She said she went to Chicago Ridge mall about 1 a.m. Friday do some shopping for her kids and herself.
“But mostly it was for me,” she said with a laugh.
The mother of four said it her first time experiencing the Black Friday mayhem as a shopper. In years past, she worked at Best Buy.
“Usually, I’m working, but I’m out of retail this year, praise God!” she said.
Although she said she had fun as a shopper, McIntosh said she still thinks the whole thing is a little crazy.
“It’s getting ridiculous with this opening on Thanksgiving stuff,” she said. “It’s hype. It’s a lot of hype.”
Dante Revis, of suburban Burbank, said Friday he does not get too worked up about Black Friday.
“You’re never gonna see me lining up in the cold to get in there at midnight,” he said as he left the Kmart store Friday afternoon. “But it’s nice to get some of your Christmas shopping out of the way early.”
Revis said he did not run into any problems while shopping and said he figured the crowds had calmed down a bit from earlier on in the day.
“You hear these stories about people fighting and crazy stuff like that,” Revis said. “I’m happy I didn’t have to deal with that.”
Discounts weren't the only things people were fighting over.
Protestors took to the street outside the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Lakeview Friday morning demanding higher pay and more hours.
A group of those protestors linked arms in the street, blocking traffic on Broadway before their wrists were zip tied by police and escorted out of the street.
A total of 10 protesters were issued citations, four women and six men, according to Chicago Police Department spokesman Daniel O’Brien. He said no arrests were made.
They were issued ordinance violations, which are the equivalent of a ticket, and given hearing dates, according to O’Brien.
CONTRIBUTING: Paul Biasco