‘Wait’ Program Pays Off
Black Friday Or Black Thursday, Local Bargain Hunters Are Ready
Posted: November 23, 2012
Deborah Cole (left center) and daughters Angelina Cole, 6, (center) and Erica Harris, 14, (right center) fend off the cold as they wait in line outside Target on Thursday evening, looking forward to the bargains to come. (Photos by Stephen Mitchell)
Customers wait in line outside Best Buy around 5 p.m. on Thursday to get the Black Friday bargains when for the store’s midnight opening.
Shoppers line up outside the Kmart in Harrisonburg on Thursday evening for the second in a series of bargain-heavy openings.
K.J. Turner (center) of Pittsburgh, who is visiting family in Harrisonburg for the holidays, waits in line at Best Buy Thursday evening for Black Friday deals. Turner, who was waiting with her niece, said she hoped to buy a laptop at midnight.
After waiting several hours outside the Harrisonburg Best Buy, he got the last voucher to buy a 40-inch Sharp television — one of the limited-quantity, massively discounted items the electronics store uses to entice shoppers.
Lucky guy, it would seem.
But the person behind him in line really, really wanted that TV, and she began to cry in the face of opportunity lost.
“I felt bad, so I gave her my ticket,” said Luong, 15 years old at the time.
Luong resolved not to let history repeat itself this year.
He left his Waynesboro home before the sun came up Thursday to get in line at Best Buy to ensure he’d snag the retailer’s Black Friday deal on a similar TV, a 40-inch Toshiba going for $179.
“I’m determined to get it,” he said Thursday evening, sitting at the front of the line in a folding chair with his feet resting on the seat of another chair, a blanket draped over his body.
Black Friday, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, increasingly spills into Thanksgiving now as stores compete for customers by opening on the holiday and using deals like the Toshiba TV to ensure customers show up.
No question the tactics works.
Luong arrived at the Burgess Road store at “6ish” Thursday morning, about 18 hours before it opened for Black Friday sales. Another family showed up around 7:30 a.m.
By around 7 p.m., the line in front of Best Buy was about three dozen people deep and growing, with untold more bargain-hunters leaving line-savers to go shopping at other stores, refuel on coffee and munchies, use the restroom, or just take a break from the nippy autumn air.
These shoppers, who’ve been called “crazy” by friends and family, often work in shifts, taking turns waiting in line while others regroup.
Luong and his two brothers rotated in one-hour shifts holding their spot in line, taking refuge in front of a television inside a nearby shop in the Harrisonburg Crossing center where their mother works.
For many, scooping up deals has become a holiday tradition.
And contrary to the common image of mad-dashing, old-lady-trampling mobs shoving their way through stores, many of those waiting outside Harrisonburg retailers are amicable.
Spending hours outside a store in the cold with like-minded shoppers, they get friendly. They even help each other.
“As you can tell, we’ve made good friends,” Tanya Merica, 31, of Elkton, said as she waited outside Target, which opened at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Merica’s mother, Darlene Royer, was the first person outside the East Market Street store when she showed up at 3:30 p.m.
Target wasn’t even the first stop for Merica and Royer.
They waited outside Kmart from 7:30 p.m. Wednesday until the store opened at 6 a.m. Thursday.
“It was a bit chilly, but we had a good time,” said Royer, 51, of Shenandoah.
It’s the camaraderie among shoppers that passes the time, they say.
Samuel Sponaugle, 20, of Woodstock, found his fellow waiters at Best Buy friendly, which was good, because he previously had no intentions of being among them.
But a deal on a television for his father, he said, motivated him to line up.
“I hate Black Friday,” he said. “I always said I’d never do this.”
Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or email@example.com