BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For many, Thanksgiving isn't just about the turkey, it's about shopping.
Black Friday shoppers lined up early in an attempt to get the first chance at the best deal.
In Baton Rouge, shoppers lined up around the block waiting for stores such as J.C. Penny and Best Buy to open for the evening rush.
It may still be Thanksgiving Day but for many of the shoppers out in droves at the Mall of Louisiana, they refer to it as more of a Black Thursday or Black Friday Eve. Some of them say the growing trend is now part of the new normal as more people come earlier each year to get their shopping done.
"Long gone are the days of the 6 a.m. Black Friday rush. It really starts on Thanksgiving as you can see here tonight," said Jake Wilson, general manager for the Mall of Louisiana.
Some folks started pouring into J.C. Penny just after 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon on the hunt for deals.
"It's great deals that come once a year and it's crazy out here," said shopper, Kimani Alexander.
The line outside Best Buy had people waiting for hours with many saying they just cannot afford to miss the savings. One man says he timed things just right and his wait only about 30 minutes.
"It was 20 minutes so far and we almost at the front door," he said.
From standing in line outside braving the cold to dealing with the hustle and bustle inside at checkout, some say the key to survival is all about having a game plan.
"Check off everything on your list and be well prepared so you can make a swift exit and be back home to your families," said shopper, Kyle Grevious.
Perhaps no one knows more about the thrill of Black Friday than one group who headed into the mall late Thursday evening.
"We feed everybody and they got to leave. We got to go shopping," one lady said.
Decked out in matching shirts, a group of ladies said they have been Black Friday professionals for years and have no plans to stop anytime soon.
"Before Thanksgiving dinner we all sit down and we scope out all the sales and get our plan together and we scope out at Walmart and then come here," said Kasie Demars.
While some think racing from the dinner table to the checkout counter takes away from giving thanks, they say it is about celebrating and bringing in the Christmas season with a rush.
"Just being around everybody and everybody talks and you know it's just fun being out with everybody," Demars added.
The Mall of Louisiana closes at midnight on Thursday and for shoppers who missed their opportunity, the stores will reopen at 6 a.m. on Friday.
J.C. Penny will remain open throughout the night.