Suring residents Crystal Schroeder (left) and Rene Wolf pull the three carts they filled with merchandise Friday morning at Kmart in Menominee. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Suring residents Crystal Schroeder (left) and Rene Wolf pull the three carts they filled with merchandise Friday morning at Kmart in Menominee. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
MENOMINEE - Even though many people take the day after Thanksgiving off to create a four-day weekend, they were still setting their alarm clocks to wake up early to hit the stores for Black Friday bargains.

It's a scene that played out here and across the country; coffee pot on, shuffle off to the shower and then get one last look at the sales flyers before heading out the door.

Some people plan the day with all the precision of an armed invasion. Mileage is calculated between stores and their opening time. Which store has the "must have" item? How critical is parking? How many checkouts are available? Will there be enough carts to go around? These are all questions experienced Black Friday shoppers ask before ever thinking about hitting the road.

Take Rachelle Alanko of Gladstone, Mich., for example. The 23-year-old power shopper has been going out on Black Friday with her family since she turned 13. Over the years she's picked up a few tricks and knows how to roll with the changes.

"I was at the Walmart in Escanaba at 5 a.m. looking for movies and DVDs," she said. "I did pretty well. We had one cart because all the carts were taken. My family all used the cart as home base and just kept on filling it up."

From there it was onto the Shopko in Escanaba where she described the scene inside as "hectic."

"They had some kind of organization with the checkout but everyone was lined up from the front to the back of the store, it was just crazy."

By 10 a.m. she was ready for another round of shopping, this time with her boyfriend, Adam Esquibel, at the Marinette Walmart.

"I found a few things that I missed," she said. And Adam scored a deal on Christmas decorations and movies.

"It was crazy by the movies ... very, very crazy," he said. "Other than that it wasn't too bad. Getting through the lines was OK."

After finding everything on their lists, the couple wrapped up their shopping by noon or so and were pretty happy.

"We're just going to go home, relax and enjoy the things we were able to get," said Alanko.

There's no doubt big box stores have advantages when it comes to offering deep discounts on popular items but local mom and pop stores have also gotten savvy over the years. What they lack in buying power, they make up for in friendly service, unique products and a relaxed atmosphere.

While there was some hustle and bustle on 1st Street in Menominee Friday, it was nothing compared to what was going on at Menards or Younkers. And for some shoppers, that's just what they're looking to find.

"It's really nice down here. I haven't gone anywhere else, I don't like crowds and I don't like to shop that much," said Sandi Bayerl of Menominee. "It feels good to shop local."

"We have merchandise that nobody else has around here," said Amber King, a clerk at Trends & Traditions. "Mary (Olsen) our owner, does most of our shopping. We hand pick everything and it's all unique."

Tiffany Lorenz of Mukwonago, near Milwaukee, fell in love with the shop.

"It's a fun place to come and look at different things, things you can't find at Walmart," she said, "and there aren't any lines and you don't have to wait outside to get in."

Her sister-in-law, Christi Lorenz of Wauconda, Ill., said she was able to find a hat and several other cute items.

The ring leader of the group however was Jeanne Lorenz. She had seniority and a tried and true plan.

"The women are on the loose and the men are watching the kids," she laughed. "We went to Simply Charming in Marinette and we're just looking at all the unique places to find something you can't buy at Menards. It's just fun going to a lot of the local shops, especially down here."