Of the thousands of shoppers out there all hours, nobody may have had more seasonal spirit than Lori Norbeck of Wallingford, Sophie Cunliffe of Aldan, Jodan Floyd of Aston and Amy Norbeck of Ridley Park.

As they stuffed a minivan full of their purchases at the Springfield Mall, they proudly opened their coats to show T-shirts proclaiming they were, indeed, the "Black Friday Squad."

"We don't do the bar thing the night before Thanksgiving," Amy Norbeck, the only one without a Squad shirt, said.  "We now do this. That's what you do when you're 40."

Besides, she added, "It's all about Lori ... It's Lori's favorite holiday."

"It is," Amy's sister-in-law conceded - and she's got the war stories to attest. "I've been doing this like forever. I used to walk to Bradlees."

"After Thanksgiving and dessert, we look at the ads," Amy Norbeck said, adding one time, that was accompanied by champagne toasts.

"One year, she bought us hand warmers," Floyd said.

"We've really made traditions," Amy Norbeck said. "You have to get the Starbucks coffee, and then at Walmart, you have to get the wrapping paper." 

Even the shirts weren't new. One year, they unified their force by wearing "Bargain Buddies" shirts.

Breakfast, of course, was part of the deal, and this year, the gang was headed to Nifty Fifty's.

"She once took me to physical therapy in the middle of Black Friday shopping," Floyd said of her friend, who waited out the 20 minutes before continuing on their rounds.

"Last year," Lori Norbeck added, "we even traveled, but I still had to go out for like four hours."

For the Black Friday Squad and an estimated 114.6 million shoppers on Black Friday, a large part of the effort was linked to the fun and tradition, although others noted the discounts still to be had.

At 5:30 a.m., Marie Stevenson of Collingdale was in search of a good-priced television although it didn't meet her standards at the Glenolden Walmart, so she was headed to Best Buy.

For her, Black Friday meant one thing. "The sales," she said.

Braving 32 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, Richard Hardy of Philadelphia was similarly focused as he headed into the big box store.

Having shopped on Black Friday only years ago, he was making the trek this year for one reason: "A TV for my granddaughter."

Delco residents Joseph Casey and Natalie Lanza had two major items on their list as they rolled up to a closed Best Buy around 6:30 a.m.

"We were coming here to see what time they open. We're trying to look for a laptop," Casey said. Having been open from 5 p.m. Thanksgiving through 1 a.m. Friday, the store was closed for a few hours until 8 a.m.

Casey and Lanza were hoping to find a decent laptop for her budding Scentsy business.

"I started as an independent consultant so I got a printer," she said.

It also is the couple's first year together and having just gotten their own place, they were out looking for items to make it a home.

Over at Old Navy in Marple, friends Mary Carroll of Delco and Katie Townsend of South Philadelphia compared the shopping of Friday with those the past 20 years.

"It's quiet right now compared to other years," Carroll said.

"I think a lot of people came out yesterday," Townsend said.

"And online," Carroll said. "I did a ton online."

For a moment, she paused to think how that was impacting brick-and-mortar stores.

"It's sad," she said. "(But) who doesn't want to sit in the comfort of your home? ... Now that they're giving all the same deals the day before ... like I sat and did a $400 Kohl's order online yesterday 'cause it's the same price. It was the same thing that I would get today and I don't have to carry it all."

As Carroll readied herself in the dark before dawn, she asked herself, "Why am I doing this?"

Townsend answered, "It's kind of a tradition now ... We do it for fun mostly."

Son-mother team Brian and Jennifer Kutlus of Delaware County agreed as they were getting started on the other side of the county outside Boscov's at the Promenade at Granite Run.

"It's fun," Brian Kutlus said. "It's better than online shopping. It's fun. It's better to go out and wake up early and go shopping."

And those are the words of a young man choosing to spend his 24th birthday mired in a tradition with his mom.

Noting the value of the experience, Jennifer Kutlus said, "We spend the day together. I told him no girlfriends. No girlfriends are allowed."

At the Springfield Mall, other parent-child teams were plowing their way through the day.

Dr. Tricia Collins and her daughter, Alisa, had finished their expedition at the mall and were in search of their car in a packed lot.

As she sounded her alarm, Tricia Collins said of the day so far, "It's going pretty well. Deals are good."

Asked if it was their first year, Collins laughed, "No! I'm a veteran. I've been doing this for 25 years ... Normally, we would start like 1 in the morning but they changed the rules this year and started at 5 the day of Thanksgiving. So, we headed out yesterday."

On Friday, they slept in for a little bit before heading out in search of bedding, clothes and accessories.

After locating their vehicle, Tricia Collins was firm about whether the day would complete their holiday shopping: "Yes, oh yes, definitely, definitely!"

The Black Friday Squad also had their dab into shopping on Thanksgiving, but with boundaries.

"The last few years, we've been going out Thanksgiving night," Lori Norbeck acknolweged.

"Late," Floyd added, "Late, late, well after dinner. We're not for compromising dinner."

The seasoned crew reminisced about earlier times, a bit wistful for days gone past.

"We miss standing in line in places 'cause you would talk to people," Floyd said. "You'd come up with strategies for the following year. Like, 'Next year, we're going to rent a school bus and we're going to sell hot chocolate.' I kinda miss the standing-in-line thing that happened but, really, this is what's fun is hanging out, taking pictures, getting coffee."

And Norbeck was getting her pictures, especially as her love for the day is rooted in the festive spirit, which effused from each member of the squad.

"I feel like it's very friendly," Lori Norbeck said. "People don't think it's friendly ... Everyone at the mall that I knew, I would take a selfie."

And that cordial spirit was infectious, as was evident the Black Friday shopping newcomer of the group, Sophie Cunliffe.

When asked to evaluate her experience so far, Cunliffe, appropriately holding her Starbucks coffee in hand, exclaimed, "Oh my God! It's so much fun!"

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