WRENTHAM - At 1:15 a.m. Friday - an hour after Wrentham Village Premium Outlets opened to eager holiday shoppers - lines inside some stores stretched 50 people deep for an hour check-out wait.
For some customers, that came after waiting even longer just to get inside the outlets' gate. While those who planned ahead and arrived early were greeted with a nearly empty parking lot and a premium spot in line, late arrivers faced a maze of traffic.
Then there were the crowds.
Walking through the mall's out-door walkways seemed to be a proceed-at-your-own-risk affair, made worse by pouring rain and chilly winds.
Though there were complaints about the conditions, shoppers said it was worth it.
"I sat in the parking lot for a few hours before the gates opened," said Mindy Carroll, who had a prime spot in line for Coach by 11 p.m. "I'm not at the front, because I made a bathroom trip."
Midnight Madness Kick-off attracted hundreds of shoppers, hours before other retailers opened their doors on Black Friday, the day that traditionally begins the holiday shopping season.
People came from Boston and north of the city for the event. One group of friends even came from upstate New York, making the outlet mall a part of their holiday vacation.
Most said they were enticed by the midnight opening, and those who usually shop on Black Friday remarked that this was a much better option than braving the 3 a.m. lines outside popular superstores that open early.
"Usually, we get up at 5 a.m., and this is better," said Karen Miranda, of Somerset, who was shopping with her sister and mother. "We're getting as much as we can, until nothing's left."
The trio were waiting outside KB Toy Outlet, where employees were handing out plastic bags for shoppers. The store was boasting several sales that attracted a lengthy line of people before doors opened.
But the line there was far from the longest. The line at Coach stretched well beyond the store's length, and an hour into the shopping customers were being welcomed in just a few at a time.
The scene was similar at other high-end retailers, including Ugg and Timberland.
Cece Shelton, of Boston, was lucky enough to be at the top of that line. She was there for the boots.
"And the sales," Shelton said. "(I'm getting) boots as gifts for my girls and for myself."
Kerry and Jay Conley, of the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, came to check out the sales. Huddled together, trying to keep warm in the rain, they were amazed at the crowds.
"We made this a last-minute decision," Jay Conley said. "We thought there'd be less people."