Officials urged people in flood-prone coastal areas of Marshfield to voluntarily leave until after Saturday morning's high tide. Shelters were open in Marshfield, Scituate and on Cape Cod.
Revere, Sandwich Harbor and the east coast of Nantucket were considered vulnerable to major flooding, according to the weather service.
Many businesses in the state were closed by noon, but some local coffee shops and restaurants stayed open.
At Rosie's Liquors in Abington, customers were lined up 10 deep Friday, snapping up 30-packs of beer, bottles of wine and every single bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.
Manager Kristen Brown said the store had five times its typical sales Thursday and Friday.
"It has been crazy," Brown said. "We've been absolutely slammed. It's almost been like Christmas here."
"A lot of people are saying, 'I'm going to be stuck with my family all weekend. I need something to do.'"
Some gas stations were almost out of fuel after customers formed lines to fill their tanks.
"It hasn't snowed like this in two years. Most people are caught way off guard," said James Stone, owner of a Sunoco station in Abington.
Stone had gone through almost his whole supply of regular-grade gas by noon Friday and was saving the last 3,000 gallons for plow drivers. He said he expected the storm to prevent delivery trucks from bringing more gas until Sunday.
Paul Czapienski, owner of Foster Farrar & Co. True Value hardware store in Northampton, said that business was brisk Friday, but that there was no frenzied or panic buying.
"Being in a hardware store, unfortunately we're in this situation where the worse the weather is, the better off we are," Czapienski said. "It's sad, but it is true."
The storm comes almost 35 years to the day that the famed Blizzard of '78 hit the region. That storm, which killed dozens of people, left about 27 inches of snow in Boston and packed hurricane-force winds and flooding that caused extensive damage along the coast.
Associated Press reporters Denise Lavoie, Jay Lindsay and Bob Salsberg contributed to this report.