Black Friday was a little more gray than usual according to a few shoppers who honor the day to buy, buy, buy as an annual tradition.

Early Friday morning Saber Pappan of Kansas City was staking it out in her car in the Target parking lot as the clock crept slowly toward 6 a.m. In the early morning darkness, cars peppered the lot occupied by patient shoppers, but there was no line at the door, and it would be easy to conclude upon arrival as a Black Friday shopper from out of town that people were already inside.

Pappan said she had come to Target on the night of Thanksgiving to pick up a tablet for her 2-year-old, but they had already run out. A Target employee promised her they would have more the next morning, so she returned to try again.

Pappan has upheld the Black Friday tradition since she was 14. In Kansas City, she said, she’s spent early mornings on Black Friday waiting for three and a half hours in the cold for stores to open up. But Black Friday morning in Garden City was a rare treat that allowed her to wait it out in the warmth of her car.

“I’m just patiently waiting,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Yay. Nobody wants to stand in line. I’m cold.’”

When asked if this sort of customer behavior was typical of her experience of Black Friday, Pappan said, “Never.”

“Normally at our Target, it’s wrapped around the building once and maybe again,” she said.

Leslee Lawrence had also come to Target from out of town, Dighton to be precise. She was after an iPad at almost half the usual cost.

She’s been upholding the Black Friday tradition for the past six or seven years, she said, adding that, “Normally it’s not this dead.”

“Last year we had to park clear across the street and walk from the mall over there to Target,” she said. “We’re crazy!”

Janene Radke was shopping at Walmart early Friday morning when she noted that many shoppers had come out in droves on the night of Thanksgiving.

Radke had returned to do a little more shopping after making trips to Target and Ulta the night before. She noted that at Walmart, “This morning it’s a lot calmer.”

“There’s a lot more room to be able to move, and there are still lots of items out. Last night it was packed,” she said. “This is something our family does every year, so it’s kind of a holiday tradition for us to kind of go out and look around, see what’s out and try and maneuver through the crowds. This is really nice this morning.

Menards was closed on Thanksgiving but opened to a warm reception from shoppers early Friday morning. Sandra Crone said she and her husband had come to buy shelf units and carbon monoxide detectors, adding that they might make a trip to Staples as well, which was also closed for Thanksgiving.

Crone said she and her husband usually go shopping just “a little bit” on Black Friday.

“We don’t go like a lot of people, and we don’t go as much as we used to,” she said. “We don’t buy stuff. When you reach our age, you have what you need already.” Crone will turn 68 next week.

Though the turnout at Menards that morning was a notch above Target’s and Walmart’s, Crone said she thought it was just “OK.” She explained that with the addition of new stores in recent years, she thinks the crowds are more diffused by extra shopping options at places like Menards and Home Depot.

Kayla Phillips and her family were also loading up on merchandise at Menards on Friday morning. She said, “Menards is the place to be.”

“They’ve got some great deals, some stuff that you definitely need for everyday stuff,” she said. Phillips explained that she just bought a new house and was collecting supplies to fix it up. While she was at it, she also picked up some toys for her kids.

Later at around noon, Main Street was bustling in the downtown area. Tim Regan, owner of Regan Jewelers, said merchants downtown don’t approach Black Friday the same way that the big-box retailers do.

“Black Friday is big-box,” he said. “We’re not big-box. Never have been, never will be. Proud to say it.”

Regan said there are lot of “great merchants” downtown “pretty much like brothers and sisters” that make up for the price cuts with “wonderful, knowledgeable” personnel.

“Ya come downtown, that’s what you’re gonna get,” he said.

Regan noted that his store doesn’t necessarily do anything differently for Black Friday, but that a lot of family members help work the store space as part of an annual Thanksgiving tradition.

“I will say, I am encouraged,” Regan said. “We’ve had a really decent week so far, prior to Thanksgiving. There’s been a nice surge. I’m optimistic.”

People are already out looking for Christmas gifts, Regan added, and shopping crowds always increase after Thanksgiving, regardless of Black Friday sales.

“It’s a good day after Thanksgiving,” he said. “It always has been. It always will be for us.”

Contact Mark Minton at mminton@gctelgram.com