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Checkout lines stretched past the fish tanks and extended all the way to the Ferris wheel at Scheels on Friday morning, and even so, more shoppers continued to flood into the store.

The new store, which had a successful opening earlier this year, was packed for Black Friday, with discounted fleece jackets and shoe boxes lining carts, and festive decor and music marking the official start of the Christmas shopping season.

The store opened at 7 a.m., with about 300 guests waiting in line, according to SouthPointe Pavilions spokeswoman Julie Lattimer.

Joseph Merklein was looking at fishing lures and rods and said he was planning to go fishing with his father.

He said that while sales of fishing equipment brought him to the store, he didn't come looking for any specific item.

"I was mostly looking, and I saw the deals they had on nice fishing stuff, but I just came out to see what they had," Merklein said.

Josh Hanshaw also came to Scheels without any particular sale in mind and was browsing shoes.

"I haven't done any Black Friday shopping yet this year, so I came out just to see what Scheels had," he said. "I do some online shopping, but my wife does most of the Black Friday shopping."

Hanshaw said the turnout for Black Friday was similar to what he's experienced in the past.

"I was surprised by the number of people at Scheels this morning. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I was," Hanshaw said.

In addition to opening early Friday, eight stores at SouthPointe were open on Thanksgiving. Several, including Bath & Body Works, Michaels, and Victoria’s Secret,  had guests waiting when they opened at 4 p.m. Thursday, Lattimer said. By Friday evening, the majority of stores had experienced increased traffic over last year, she said.

A few miles northeast, at Gateway Mall, a somewhat different scene unfolded Friday morning.

The mall was busy, but store lines were manageable, with some of the longest lines at the coffee kiosks as shoppers nursed their Thanksgiving hangovers with espresso.

Vickie Novak, who works at Husker Headquarters, had several customers in the small store shopping for Husker apparel.

Novak said Husker fans had been flooding in for Husker-themed Christmas gifts and a retro jacket that was significantly marked down. But the crowd started to thin as Nebraska's game against Iowa neared its 11 a.m. kickoff.

"The early, 8 o'clock rush was good," Novak said. "Hopefully it will continue, but the gameday might stop some of the crowd."

Gateway general manager Chad Becwar said it's hard to tell how many people visited the mall Friday.

"Today was pretty typical of any Husker gameday with an 11 a.m. start," Becwar said. "Busy right at the start, but slows down once the game starts."

Shoppers will have another chance get their fill of good deals Saturday. Many local stores will have sales to mark Small Business Saturday.

Last year, shoppers spent $13 billion nationwide at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.

New stores to shop in Lincoln this season

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or ckeene@journalstar.com.

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Newsroom intern

2018 fall semester intern at the Journal Star.

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