On Black Friday, early birds finish first


Christmas gifts for Joe Abber's family this year cost him one night of sleep, six hours of waiting in the nose-numbing cold — and $173.94.

Abber, 18, was second in line before the doors opened at 6 a.m. on Black Friday at the Federal Way Target. He arrived with friends, Fred Tse, 19, and Holly Varwig, 26, shortly before midnight.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States. In Federal Way, more than 1,000 shoppers began lining up at popular stores such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Macy's and Target before 9 p.m. They waited overnight with chairs, gloves, coffee and sleeping bags. Some slept.

Despite the bitter cold, Abber and his friends were in good spirits as they counted the minutes before the doors would open.

"Oh my gosh, it's like an adrenaline thing when those doors open," Abber said. "It's just the fun of running in with everyone."

Abber was so determined to get all the gifts on his list that he came a few days early and mapped out his path.

"I know where everything is that I'm getting and I know what route I'm taking," he said, unfolding a brightly colored, highlighted shopping list.

Across town at the original Federal Way Wal-Mart, many people near the front of the line hoped to score bargains on electronics.

Charlie Chu, 17, arrived with friends at 1:15 a.m. and was one of the first 10 people in line. He planned to purchase an XBox 360, a digital camera and CDs and DVDs. He and his brother, who was waiting in line at Best Buy, coordinated efforts and shopping lists.

"It's kind of fun doing it because it's like getting your family and friends together," Chu said.

Bob Pishny, of Fife, arrived with his wife, Kerri, at Wal-Mart at 9:30 p.m. They were the first in line this year. The couple planned to purchase a computer to surprise their teenage children.

Hundreds of shoppers lined up behind them were very friendly this year, Pishny said. Talk spread through the crowd about a woman who was trampled when the doors opened last year.

Pishney wasn't going to let that happen to him.

"We have a cart close by that kind of bounces off everybody," Pishny said. "We use the cart as a bumper."

When the doors opened at 5 a.m., they didn't need to use their cart as a bumper after all. More than 600 shoppers filed quickly but peacefully through the doors.

"This is fantastic that we have this many people," said store manager Paul Cox.

To keep the peace this year, store staff talked to folks in line before the doors opened and reminded them not to push or shove. They removed a mat at the front that caused a woman to trip last year and be trampled. Police officers were visible at the front of the store to keep the peace.

Also new this year, Wal-Mart staff passed out store maps and fliers listing all the sale items to those waiting in line.

"I think that made them a little more comfortable that they knew where they wanted to be," Cox said.

According to a study, 37 percent of U.S. consumers shop on Black Friday. Most of the shoppers are in their teens, 20s and 30s.

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

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