Three years ago REI, the Seattle-based outdoor recreation and sporting goods store, decided to close its doors on Black Friday. The employees were also paid for the day off and encouraged to "go out and play outside."

The idea was designed to get more people outside and away from the commercial madness that takes place the day after Thanksgiving. Alaskans are typically very outdoorsy and know how to prioritize.

"It's way better to be making turns on the slopes than turning around people in the mall," said skier Chris Scholl. "I think more people should be out here."

Many Anchorage families made their way Friday to the Hilltop Ski Area, which has been open for a week this season. Typically, Black Friday and the day after Christmas are Hilltop's busiest days.

"Our first weekend, Saturday, we were real busy with just one run," said Steve Remme, the ski area's CEO. "We haven't had a lot of snowfall, so we've primarily been skiing on all man-made snow."

The lack of real snow hasn't kept skiers from hitting the slopes.

"The day after Thanksgiving can be real busy, it can be one of our busiest days," Remme said. "People want to get out because it's wintertime, they want to get out and do winter stuff."

That's the reason Joshua and Katie Moody made it out to the slopes. Both are originally from San Antonio, Texas, and are in Anchorage serving in the military. Finding any way to enjoy the season on days off is a priority.

"I mean, we both prefer to be outdoors most of the time anyways, it's better than fighting crowds," Joshua Moody said.

"Today's really nice and clear, you can see Denali and some of the volcanoes, it's really cool," Katie Moody said.

Families like the Qinggans took to the hills for the fresh air and exercise.

"Tristan wanted to ski, he loves the outdoors and he's come here for several seasons now," Song Qinggan said. "He's doing really well, he enjoys the sport."

For the Qinggans, there's not much cost to missing out on holiday shopping.

"We're not big shoppers," Song Qinggan said. "I don't see any good deals out there. That's why we are not going shopping."

The Moodys said there will be other times to shop.

"It's too stressful trying to get those good deals, you know?" Katie Moody said. "The after-Christmas sales are good too; it's all about perspective."

Hilltop Ski Area is open seven days a week. Details on its skiing schedule are posted on its website.