Santa Barbara shopper Shirley Jochim plans to join the Black Friday frenzy at 5 a.m.

The elderly grandmother said she has been doing it for years, and that she has to “sharpen her elbows” before her chaotic shopping spree.

“Crowds don’t bother me,” Jochim said as she shopped at the State Street Macy’s with her family Tuesday afternoon.

In fact, Jochim said she tries to outsmart the crowds by hiding coveted merchandise Wednesday night.

“Why should you have to pay top price?” she said.

Opportunistic shoppers may have to start their mad dash even earlier depending on where they shop, with some stores doing their best to transform Black Friday into Black Thursday.

Walmart, Toys R Us and Kmart are a few of the stores that will open at 10 p.m. Thursday, while Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Old Navy and Express will open at midnight.

Chain stores have been opening their doors earlier for several years, but this is the first time most stores have opened on Thanksgiving. Several Macy’s employees said they didn’t think a midnight opening would lure more customers.

“I don’t think it will be that busy, but I don’t mind coming in at midnight,” a State Street Macy’s sales associate said. “I get paid time-and-a-half, and I get the rest of the day off.”

Mike Martz of Hayes Commercial Group said it’s a tactic that has created more buzz but won’t necessarily translate to increased sales.

An employee at the Old Navy on State Street said she isn’t excited about “staying up 48 hours straight.” All Old Navy stores are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and again at midnight for Black Friday, which prompted a petition written by April Porter.

“Many of these employees, including my sister, are forced to work on this national holiday and then come back a few hours later for Black Friday,” Porter wrote. “It is completely unfair to force someone to spend time away from their families in order to gain a sale.”

Nebraska resident Anthony Hardwick launched another online petition aimed at Target that has garnered nearly 200,000 signatures.

“I sympathize with them,” Radius Group general manager Brian Johnson said. “There’s no reason for stores to open earlier.”

Regardless of how early stores open, no discount will entice Santa Barbara shopper Jamie Bradford.

“I think you have to be a little insane to shop then,” she said.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.