03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Black Friday Report From Silicon Valley: Stores Jammed At 5 A.M.

I consider myself an experienced Black Friday shopper, having gotten up at 4 am the day after Thanksgiving for years to shop the bargains. But I have never seen a Black Friday like the one today -- November 27, 2009.

There were more people lined up to get into Walmart in Mountain View, CA (Silicon Valley) than I could have ever imagined -- more than 1,000. They circled the building on both sides and in front. They were even there an hour after opening, because this year they limited the number of people in the store. People just kept on coming and coming.

All the other stores at San Antonio Shopping Center were jammed too---Kohl's, Sears, Target and others. Jammed at 5:05 am Amazing. I couldn't even find a parking place in a huge lot and the stores had just opened. Same crowded conditions at Stanford Shopping Center just three miles down the road with stores like Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn. I didn't even try Best Buy in Mountain View because there was a traffic jam getting into the lot.

So if there is a recession, maybe it is over judging by all the people who were there with money to spend. When I finally got into Target, people were running (yes, running) to get the 32" Westinghouse TV (gone by the time I found them) and the TomTom GPS (also gone). Hundreds of people with packed shopping carts were waiting in line.

I couldn't go home empty handed so I bought a nice fleece jacket at Target for only $15 (also on sale, but not yet discovered by the mobs) and some toys that were not on sale because the Leap Frog Frig Magnets were already sold out.

I should have guessed that something like this was afoot because on Thanksgiving night, I got an email at about 7 pm from friendly Walmart announcing more online bargains. By the time I went online to check two hours later, everything I wanted (electronics) was all sold out. Yep, gone and I had just gotten the email.

So, maybe this is the beginning of a good shopping season signaling an end to the recession. It is the first time I can remember being happy to see so many people in the stores at 5 am competing with me for the bargains.