Early-rising shoppers swarm stores

Tens of thousands of Black Friday shoppers flocked to stores at midnight in Glendale and Burbank, with waves of fresh reinforcements streaming in throughout what was a relatively typical start to the holiday retail season.

Yvonne Rodriguez, 29, and her friends were among the diehard shoppers out looking for bargains on Friday. By 1 p.m., they had been hitting stores in the Glendale Galleria for more than 12 hours.

“I’ve been up since 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving,” she said.

When they arrived at the Glendale Galleria at 12:30 a.m. Friday, the parking garages were starting to fill up.

“There was no parking,” she said.

There were between 7,000 and 10,000 shoppers who entered the Galleria at midnight, Shoshana Puccia, a spokeswoman for the mega-mall, said.

Rodriguez and her friends were continuing their retail excursion into the afternoon.

“We haven’t eaten either. She was cross-eyed a little while ago,” she said, laughing and pointing toward her friend, Katherine Gonzalez.

By noon, about 25,000 shoppers were at the Galleria, Puccia said.

Mike Ratkovic, 36, said that before he waited in line at the Apple Store in the Galleria, he started off at midnight at the Fry’s Electronics in Burbank, where the line snaked all the way around the building.

“And that’s a big building,” he said.

Jenny Serrano, 20, said she started shopping around 3 a.m., after taking a short nap to refresh after Thanksgiving festivities. Like many shoppers, she was at the Galleria looking for a bargain. She found one at Macy’s — $20 for a pair of boots.

At the Americana at Brand, crowds were relatively thin around 9:30 a.m., but picked up significantly by lunchtime.

Some shoppers divided their time on Black Friday.

Becky Lee, 55, went with her daughter to Forever 21 at the Americana at Brand at midnight. They then went home, slept a few hours and returned to the outdoor mall at 7:30 a.m.

Thousands of shoppers were bustling in the Burbank Town Center around 10:30 a.m.

Daisy Pinedo, 16, kicked off her day at 3 a.m. at Kohl’s in Van Nuys before heading over to the Burbank mall around 7 a.m.

“It was packed, but I thought it would be more packed,” she said.

The Burbank Town Center had a successful opening at midnight, according to mall officials.

“We were swamped,” said spokeswoman Linda Maxwell.

Vehicle traffic flowed smoothly around the Galleria, Americana at Brand and Burbank Town Center for most of Friday.

Glendale police fielded calls from shoppers last year who complained of waits of up to two hours to exit some parking garages.

Traffic-control measures, such as yellow cones and private workers directing cars, were in place at the Galleria this year, and will be used again on holiday weekends and the week leading up to Christmas, according to General Manager Larry Martin.

Traffic congestion was reduced this year because so many stores opened at midnight, he added, spreading the number of customers out over a longer period of time.

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