Lines shorter for early sales shoppers


Shoppers who camped overnight line up in time for "doorbuster" deals at Best Buy as they will be opening by 6pm on Thursday.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 5:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 5:14 p.m.

With a smorgasbord of pricey electronics, Best Buy is often the first stop for Black Friday shoppers each year. But with just four hours to go on Thanksgiving afternoon before the Gainesville store launched its holiday sales at 6 p.m., there were only two dozen or so people waiting in line for the doors to open.

The scene was starkly different from the one 15-year-old Jonathan Simons, who was second in line this year, remembers from two years ago when the store didn’t open until early Friday morning. He was first in line that year and, by midnight — with just four or five hours to go before the deals began — the line of sales-hungry shoppers twisted past storefront after storefront all the way to Office Max on the other side of Best Buy’s sector of Butler Plaza, he said.

With four hours to go before this year’s sales began, the line barely reached PetSmart next door.

Jonathan said he arrived at Best Buy at 3 p.m. Monday with his mother and brother, where they pitched a tent and settled in for a long wait. On Thursday afternoon, his mother was at home cooking a Thanksgiving dinner to bring to him at Best Buy and to his brother at his new post in front of Target. He said his brother was aiming to get a pair of 50-inch televisions that would cost $230 apiece, instead of their usual $600 sticker price, while he was after two or three Dell laptops at $177 a pop and a Kindle Fire HD for under $100.

But while Jonathan would still get to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, albeit one he would eat on the sidewalk, he said he felt bad for the employees at Best Buy and other stores who wouldn’t really get a Thanksgiving because of the early sales.

“I mean, I don’t think it’s really fair for the workers,” he said.

“I think they’re doing this to have more time to get sales in,” Jonathan said of the stores that were launching sales Thursday instead of Friday. “I don’t think it’s worth it. I think they should just push it back to Friday.”

A couple of the shoppers in line were missing their Thanksgiving as well to ensure they got the best deals. But 15-year-old Klinton Kennard, who was gunning for a $168, 39-inch television, didn’t really mind.

“Well, I’m kind of skipping out on my family’s Thanksgiving, but I don’t really care about Thanksgiving that much,” he said, adding that he isn’t a big fan of turkey.

He said he preferred the timing of the 6 p.m. opening because he didn’t have to wait through the cold night hours and risk getting sick, although he admitted the tradeoff might be getting a sunburn instead.

Now that more stores are opening on Thursday evening instead of Friday morning, he said it comes down to what people would rather do.

“It’s their choice honestly if they’re here for the deal or (if) they can wait ‘till tomorrow,” he said.

Yosanni Torres and Kaitlyn Whisman, two 21-year-old Santa Fe College students, arrived at Best Buy in the middle of the afternoon, armed with blankets and a study guide.

Their Thanksgiving dinner: Cheez-Its and a box of Keebler Coconut Dreams cookies.

With Torres’ family in Miami and Whisman’s family in Ohio, neither decided to go home for Thanksgiving, so the early sales worked out for them.

“It gives people time to pick and choose when they want to go,” Torres said.

Torres was thinking of getting a television while Whisman wanted to check out the laptops.

“Black Friday is becoming the bigger holiday,” Whisman said.

Target looked a lot like Best Buy around 3 p.m. Thursday, with just under 25 people in line.

Nancy Page and her daughter, Chrissy Holloway, had just arrived with their family and were settling into fold-out chairs until the store’s 8 p.m. opening. Black Friday is a long-held tradition for them.

“I’ve been doing it since she was born, and she’s 37,” Page, 59, said of Holloway.

For the past couple of years, they’ve even gone out to eat for Thanksgiving rather than cook. They said they would rather the Black Friday sales begin on Friday, but weren’t going to miss out.

“We wish it was truly on Black Friday,” Holloway said.

When they were at Target a couple years ago when it still opened early Friday morning instead of on Thanksgiving, they ended up around the back of the building because the line was so long. This year, they were right up front.

As their group, some of whom wore matching Christmas-themed Betty Boop shirts that read ‘Naughty or Nice,’ discussed Black Friday, they pointed out that many people just shop for sales online or go to pre-sales in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

But for them, it’s all about the experience — and the deals, of course.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gainesville.com.

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