While most Americans are preparing to break bread and offer thanks for their bountiful blessings on Thanksgiving, some are already looking ahead to what presents will sit beneath the Christmas Tree and forgoing a traditional feast in lieu of saving a place in line for Black Friday.
The start of the Christmas shopping season will kick off on November 23, the day after Thanksgiving, and eager customers have already begun camping out at their favorite retail stores to save a place so they can rush in to nab their discounted deals.
Tony Avitar, an Ohio father-of-five, has set up shop outside a Best Buy in Cuyahoga Falls. He pitched his tent on Thursday to become the first in line for what promises to be a shopping extravaganza next week.
He has camped out for the past nine years, before the busy shopping day, and his family will join him at his tent on Thanksgiving Day for a family meal, which has become a tradition.
“When you have five kids and you have limited income what you want to be able to do is – is want to be able to provide for them and get them decent Christmas presents,” he told WJW-TV about his motivation for coming out so early.
Though most of his time is spent inside the tent, he does venture into the electronic shop to scope out the options.
“Every year, I save at least a thousand dollars. I think this year the good sales are a 40-inch Toshiba flat screen that’s normally about $500 bucks, it’s $179. Also laptops. Anyone who can’t afford a laptop, I think there’s one for $180 bucks,” he said.
Tony Avitar’s friends and family help out and take turns staying in the tent so he can shower and get food.
But even his friend, Summer Morgan, told the local news station that he might be taking his bargain hunting just a tad too far.
“I understand the concept of saving money, but going out a week ahead is a little crazy,” she said. Other shoppers chimed in to agree, also calling it crazy.
But another local resident was inspired by the thrifty dad and a day after Tony Avitar’s tent appeared, another tent joined the queue on Friday.
The store manager, Nick Dolansky, expressed his excitement at the scene and said the campers help kick off the season.
“It’s always great to see the passionate customers every year who are camping out, making the effort. It’s a tradition in itself,” he said.
Across the country in El Cajon, California – a pair of shoppers hoping to nab some steep discounts started a line outside a Best Buy on Thursday… but their hopes were soon dashed.
The two ladies, Rhiannon Buckingham and Alicia Gomez, were kicked off the property by mall security, who told them to go home and to return on Thanksgiving.
Rhiannon Buckingham and Alicia Gomez sat in lawn chairs and had packed a full bin of food in preparation for the wait.
“They said, <<You guys can’t stay here. You guys look homeless>>,” Rhiannon Buckingham told KGTV about what she was allegedly told by the security guards.
“I mean, I may be trailer trash but I’m not homeless,” she quipped.
Despite the frosty welcome from security and the jeers from other shoppers, Buckingham insisted that she is only doing what it takes to secure a decent place in line.
“Last year, I came on Tuesday and I was 17th in line,” she said.
“They only had 15 TVs,” she added about the disappointment she experienced.
Undeterred, Rhiannon Buckingham has moved to another Best Buy location in La Mesa, where she expects to save more than $2,000 when she purchases four TVs, a BluRay player and some earphones.
She arrived on Friday and soon another eager shopper, Jason Faust, joined her in line.
“I’ve got nothing else better to do,” he told the local news.
Down in Miami, local news reporter Betty Yu tweeted yet another photo of campers outside a Best Buy.
“Can you believe these guys are already camping out for #blackfriday? Guy took vacation to do this!” she tweeted.
Black Friday, the busiest day of the shopping year since 2005, marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.
Stores typically offer heavy discounts and open their doors in the wee hours of the morning to accommodate the massive demand.
The name indicates the day when retailers start to enjoy a profit or “are in the black” as hordes of customers rush in to nab gifts for the holidays.
It has become a cause for concern though, with violence breaking out and even deaths occurring from stampedes as some customers compete with other shoppers.
In response, heavy security has been set up to monitor the opening of stores and many customers are choosing instead to shop online.
Cyber Monday now indicates the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday when employees return to work and shop online – on the company’s time.