Black Friday shoppers pitch tents outside Best Buy, 7 days early
Nov 19, 2012 (Orlando Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Itzaida Diaz plans to spend more than $1,500 at Best Buy on Black Friday, and she's willing to camp out in front of the store for nearly a week to make sure she gets the best deals.
"We're really doing it for my son who landed second in line last year. He has a very competitive spirit," said Diaz of east Orange County, who set up two tents outside the East Colonial Drive electronics retailer Saturday night. "He wants a Toshiba 40-inch flat-screen TV, and we're also getting tablets, Sony PlayStations, Blu-ray players and other things."
Since Diaz and her family are first in line, they'll receive tickets to Best Buy's limited-quantity doorbuster deals when the store opens Thursday at midnight.
"I know this is crazy, but we're actually spending quality time together, and we can save up to $200 at the same time," said Diaz, who is taking off time from work as an accountant.
Diaz said her kids, including her 18-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, husband and other family members are sleeping in their two-tent compound on a rotating basis.
Consumers across Central Florida and the rest of the nation are following suit at Best Buy locations by camping out in front of stores, bringing coolers, pulling out tables and enjoying family time while hoping to cash in on the Black Friday savings.
Electronics are popular during the holidays, but they are also high-end items where deep savings come to those first in line. Families are willing to bear the discomfort of sleeping outdoors and under the blinding lights of a parking lot if they can save some money this holiday season.
"It's become a tradition for families to line up together," said Landon Riggle, general manager at the Best Buy store in Sanford. He said his first family started a line outside his store Monday. It's their fourth consecutive year camping out for Black Friday.
Shoppers walking past the tents at the East Colonial retailer giggled and joked about the campsite. Some of them posed for pictures while the campers waited patiently in their lawn chairs.
"I think it's just ridiculous," said Jeremy Uberra, an Orlando resident who stopped at the Best Buy on Sunday to purchase a flat-screen TV. "I really can't imagine this being safe."
But Ted Roscoe, general manager at the East Colonial store, said he greets the families in line every morning and checks to see that they're comfortable and safe.
"If they think enough of us to spend time outside our store for so many days, we want to try to make their stay as comfortable and safe as possible," Roscoe said. "We'll also provide barricades and police officers on Black Friday to ensure everyone's safety so no one gets hurt."
Diaz's daughter Ayanara Garcia, said the lights and concrete floor make for tough sleeping conditions, but it's worth the discomfort.
"I want to be the first to get the Sims 3 Supernatural [video game]," said 12-year-old Ayanara. "I've been watching videos on YouTube, and it looks really fun. So of course, this is worth it."
Evelyn Pizarro, of Orange County and second in line at the East Colonial Best Buy, said safety was the reason she and her daughter chose the electronics retailer as the place to set up their tent Sunday instead of at a competitor.
"I really feel much safer here," Pizarro said. "Everyone has been really nice. The manager and employees come out and ask how we're doing. They're very friendly. I know people joke, but I think it's kind of fun."
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