Black Friday shoppers lined up and rushed into a Torrance Toys R Us on Thanksgiving… (Michael Robinson Chavez )
A few minutes after Wal-Mart store employees started letting the crowd in 12 people at a time, the security guard manning the front of the line at the Panorama City store switched between two instructions to the crowd.
"Calm down, people. You have to wait when you get inside anyway," and "Walk, don't run!"
Stores across the Southland were opening up before midnight Thursday. Store officials were wary after incidents in years past, such as one last Thanksgiving at a Wal-Mart in Porter Ranch; a shopper there pepper sprayed fellow customers, injuring at least seven of them.
The Toys R Us in Torrance didn't open its doors until 8 p.m., and when it did the managers there didn't take any chances. They handled the crowd by allowing about 200 people into the store at a time.
As shoppers entered there was an immediate stampede to the back right corner, where there were electronics deals to be had.
"You can get two for the price of one, so of course we're here," said Crystal de la Cruz, 31, of San Pedro, who was first in line outside the toy store.
The items atop her list were the latest Xbox games -- "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" and "FIFA 2013" -- to stuff the stockings of her two sons. Rather than the normal price of close to $60 each, newly released video games were selling for $20 to $25.
"I've got the store mapped out on my phone," De la Cruz said. "They tried to trick us by remodeling, but we've got them figured out."
For cousins Margaret Diaz and Yvonne Baros, both in their twenties and from Torrance, Black Friday was a chance to stock up on essentials, especially diapers.
With a newborn baby in the family, and more babies on the way, the cousins rushed to the Babies R Us side of the store.
About an hour after getting in line, the pair dragged their haul through the store's sliding doors: more than 1,000 diapers and hundreds of baby wipes, more than $200 worth in all.
"These will hopefully last us a while, but probably not more than a month," Diaz said.
As the two -- with the help of store employees -- wheeled the mountain of diapers to their SUV, some of the hundreds in line outside the store jokingly asked if there were any diapers left for them.