CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB)– Black Friday marks the first day of the holiday season, and thousands of people headed out to the stores early Friday morning, to get the deals.

“We pulled an all nighter, got here at 3:30 a.m. to be one of the first 250 people,” said Amanda Cole. Her and her family stood outside of Cabela’s early in the morning to received a free mystery gift card.

But for her father, it wasn’t just about the money they were saving, it was about spending quality time with one another.

“I love them, it’s Thanksgiving, and just to be with them, I mean these times are precious, you don’t get them very often,” said Jim Wargo.

This year, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop are adding a little incentive to the morning, and offered 250 mystery gift cards that varied from $10-$500.

“I’m never that guy,” said Brenden Jones, who took the trip from Rochester to visit Cabela’s and received a free gift card. Jones won the lucky $500 gift card, and plans to spend it with his dad. “We go out and do anything together. We come out to these places, we like to look around, sniff, touch and feel it and put stuff in our cart.”

For General Manger, Scott Armstrong, he believes it’s great that Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s are bringing back the feel of Black Friday again, when doing your holiday shopping online has become a bigger trend.

“We had over 300 people waiting in line today, which is up significantly from last year,” said Armstrong. “It’s that holiday season kick off and Black Friday’s been that way for a long time, and it’s kind of lust it’s luster the last few years.”

He encourages shoppers to do their holiday shopping in person because of what stores have to offer.

“Coming into a store like this, we have experts in all of the departments. If it’s camping, fishing hunting, we have people that can actually tell you about the product, instead of going online and just reading some information,” said Armstrong. “People want to make sure they get that right item.”

Cabela’s offers toys for all ages, and they have Santa visits in their Santa Wonderland section as well. The store recommends and asks parents to register for their free visit with Santa on their website, here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.