The Black Friday focus is always the tramplings, the anything-for-an-edge shopper assaults and, of course, the bottom lines.
The National Retail Federation estimated that up to 152 million people would shop either online or hit the brick-and-mortar stores Thanksgiving weekend. And it estimated that about $465.6 billion would be spent between then and the holidays, a 2.8 percent increase during last year.
But behind it all, there are those that drive it: The store manager who corrals enough employees to handle the crowds; the shoppers who wait hours in the cold to nab the deals; and the sheriff's deputies who hope to keep the ne'er-do-wells from making off with your hard-fought gifts.
'One of my favorite days'
With a line outside stretching around the building, Carson City Kohl's store manager Mary Ann Iverson reached for the intercom.
"All right, team, we have about seven minutes until we open," she said over the store radio. "Come on up and we'll talk about the day."
More than two-dozen workers shuffled out to form a half circle around her. A few others stood outside with the crowd, handing out complimentary hot cocoa, coffee and tea. The crowd had begun gathering more than two hours before the store's Black Friday opening.
"All I want is for you to have fun with this day," Iverson told her crew. "We've worked really hard to prepare for it."
She said just about every employee, including the 35 or so hired just for the holidays, was scheduled at some point between Thursday and Friday. They put up signs to point customers toward the deals and give estimated wait times to check out. They overstocked items they predicted to be huge sellers and prepped more stock in the back to be easily taken to the floor, she said.
"This is probably one of my favorite days," Iverson said in an interview, citing the crowd's excitement and enthusiasm for the store. "I know it sounds crazy, but it really is."
A minute later, a young man waved to have the door opened. He asked for a sale flier and when Iverson pulled out a stack, he offered to take them all and pass them to the hundreds of people lined up outside.
"See what I mean?" Iverson said.
Shoppers end their night with breakfast
When asked about their Black Friday strategy, the group of six from Gardnerville joked in unison, "the big guys go first."
But when the doors to Kohl's opened up more than an hour after they started standing in line, it was Devin Devries, probably the smallest of the group, dragging one of her friends by the sweater as they jogged through the store.
Kohl's was their second stop for the night after hitting the early-opening Walmart. From there, the plan was J.C. Penney at 4 a.m. and breakfast at the Casino Fandango to cap off the shopping spree.
Devries said the group decided to shop on Black Friday almost on a lark - they didn't make plans until about 8 p.m. Thursday. Their targets: Dollhouses and Barbie dolls.
But first, they needed to wait in a line that eventually stretched around the Kohl's. Employees estimated 300 people waited for the doors to open.
"Do you have any glove warmers?" Monica Sinclair asked, laughing. "Cause it is really cold."
It was the second Black Friday for most of the group. Max Soyland said he had sworn it off previously, having worked at Target about five years ago for a 6 a.m. opening. He said he worked as a cart attendant and didn't stop moving the entire day.
And he would need to work this Black Friday, also, this time at Tires Plus in Black Friday - a fact that he laughed off at 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
But as soon as he let that slip, a woman standing in line nearby chimed up: "Do you guys have good deals?"
CC sheriff increases shopping center patrols for holidays
While Black Friday conjures images of bulging retail doors and mob-like swarms around hot items, for another group, it marks the start to a month of hyper-awareness.
The Carson City Sheriff's Department's reserve unit ups its patrols in shopping center parking lots starting Black Friday and lasting through the holiday season. The point: Creating a "very obvious presence in the shopping center," reserve Cmdr. Tom Crawford said.
He said they look for any suspicious activity, from folks that have been sitting in the parking lot for much too long to broken glass on the ground. Crawford said anecdotally it seems there's been a decrease in smash-and-grab thieving from the stores with the increased patrols.
"Most of the problems, because of the patrols, are pretty benign here," Crawford said.
He said the increase in patrols, which Sheriff Ken Furlong started about four years ago, have been well-received by shoppers and retailers alike. They've even upped their coverage area to the Topsy Lane Shopping Center, which is in Douglas County.
"Be aware of your surroundings," Crawford said. "If something looks strange in the parking lots, or something is suspicious, give us a call."
He also suggested keeping your gifts in the trunk of your car or taking them home immediately - don't give any enticement for someone to "have themselves a merry Christmas at someone else's expense," he said.