by justin strawser

COAL TOWNSHIP ­- It was another hectic start to Black Friday shopping Thursday night at Wal-Mart Supercenter along Route 61 with a parking lot full of cars and store full of bargain-seekers.

Although the first wave of hot deals at the large department store started at 8 p.m. Thursday, every cart had been claimed by 7:30 p.m.

The parking lots were overflowing. Some drivers used spaces not marked for parking while others jumped curbs to park in grassy areas.

Most shoppers were speed walking through the brisk temperatures, while others were running from their parking spaces into the store.

And despite national headlines of employees threatening to walk out and commentary that the day of shopping was starting too early - Sears and Toys 'R Us also opened their deals at 8 p.m. and Target at 9 p.m. - many of the shoppers were in favor of the earlier start times or didn't have a problem with it.

"I'm not bothered. It just means I don't have to wake up at 4 in the morning," said Brenda Boyer, of Trevorton.

Her mother-in-law, Pam Bohner, of Dornsife, said the store was still crowded, but she said the earlier start times might cut back on some of the crowd.

The women, who are no strangers to Black Friday shopping, were out with Bohner's granddaughter, Carmen Schroyer, 2, of Shamokin, to find deals on toys, DVDs, bedding and the cheapest laptop Bohner can get her hands on.

The hours bothered Margaret Yost, of Elysburg, but not enough to stay home.

"I would sooner have it in the morning. There are just too many start times now," she said, referencing the three events Walmart advertised at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and 12 midnight.

Yost said goes she Black Friday shopping "all the time," and was searching for clothing, pillows, bedding and TVS.

It was actually the first time Black Friday shopping for Alexis Green, 12, of Ashland, and she was excited - although she thought she was being used by her grandmother, Sandy Billus, of Girardville, and aunt, Alyssa Dempsey, of Girardville.

"I think they're going to make me stand in all the lines," she joked.

The three family members were seeking out a $78 Orion 24-inch HDTV, being sold at 10 p.m., and had no problems with the early times.

However, their relative, who asked not be identified, was not happy with the hours to buy cheap merchandise bleeding into Thanksgiving more and more each year, but she came along to offer a helping hand to her family.