FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Janet Negron of Norwalk hates Black Friday.
"The crowds, lack of parking, the lines ... it all gives me a big headache," Negron said. "I usually avoid it and shop when it's not so crazy."
But even Negron, who "reluctantly stopped" at the Norwalk Wal-Mart on Connecticut Avenue early Friday afternoon to pick up a CD or two, ended up walking out of the store with much more than that.
"All of a sudden I started seeing all these great deals, and I ended up with a shopping cart full of early Christmas gifts," she said. "The store wasn't quite as crowded as I expected."
Negron said she saved a few hundred dollars buying a 32-inch Sony high-definition, flat-screen TV, a couple of Blue Ray DVD players and two massive Disney Dream Castles for her twin 4-year-old daughters.
Negron added, "I don't know what came over me, but I walked out of there with a lot more than I intended to buy."
Some shoppers, however, walked out of the Black Friday super sales at stores across Fairfield County with exactly what they came out for.
David Better, 19, of Greenwich, said he waited months for the Black Friday extravaganza to purchase a 37-inch Insignia high-definition flat-screen TV at Best Buy in Norwalk.
"The regular $500 price was reduced to $350," said Better, home for Thanksgiving weekend from his dorm at Yale University.
"This is a great bargain, and it's even better because my three dorm-mates and I are splitting the cost," Better said as he pushed and then loaded the television into his car trunk. "It's a great TV. The worst part was the parking. There were no spaces anywhere."
Better said he never would have gone out Thanksgiving morning, as some people did at Best Buy, to give up their holiday gatherings to be the first in line for Black Friday specials, such as ten 42-inch flat-screen TVs on sale for $199.
More than 20 hopeful customers started gathering at 7 a.m. Thanksgiving morning to camp out until the store's opening at midnight.
Heather Luizzi, of Fairfield, said she and a Norwalk friend were among those who camped out Thanksgiving day for a chance at the large-screen TV.
"No, we didn't get it. I think we got there too late. But we did get some great deals on smaller televisions," said Luizzi, who was back at Best Buy on Friday afternoon for a few more bargains. "I found really good buys on some radios and speakers, so it was still a good couple of days."
Meanwhile, at the Stamford Town Center, customers and merchants alike said they thought there were more people in the mall on Black Friday than a year ago.
"We've definitely had a lot more customers than last year, especially during the morning," said Maria Parales, manager at 'ete' Fashion Jewelry and Accessories. "It seems like there are more people everywhere in the mall than a year ago."
Ruth Bosquet, 28, of Stamford, said she saved more than $200 on two pairs of leather boots, perfume and other accessories. "It's been jammed all day, but it's worth it to save this kind of money," she said. "I don't think there's another day all year that you can find these kinds of bargains."
While official numbers were not available, as of noon mall officials indicated that a first-ever midnight opening and a special daylong WEBE 108 radio station event and gift-card give-away had helped to generate a 30 percent sales increase from a year ago.