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Black Friday: Let the shopping begin

Shoppers scold a woman who cut in line as Wal-Mart opened its doors at 5 a.m. Friday in Federal Way. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Shoppers scold a woman who cut in line as Wal-Mart opened its doors at 5 a.m. Friday in Federal Way.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

The early bird gets the worm, or rather the plasma television, as the saying goes.

This year’s Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving when retailers offer attractive discounts — made shopping a new experience for some folks. For others, it was a long-standing tradition. Some shoppers came to buy gifts for themselves, such as Kathryn Black, 19, who hoped to snag a global positioning system. Some shoppers came to buy for others, such as Ron Pierce, 47, who hoped to purchase electronics.

The cold weather and tough economic times did not stop lines from forming across town at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Joe’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse, to name a few. Electronics topped several shoppers’ lists. Televisions, digital cameras, gaming stations and global positioning systems were must-have items at Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

The planning and waiting for gift shopping began early.

Black and Pierce both arrived at Best Buy at 3 a.m. Black stood reading a book and Pierce relaxed in a fold-up chair while they awaited the store’s 5 a.m. opening. Overlooking the proceedings was Federal Way police officer J.J. Jimenez. He volunteered for the off-duty position and arrived at 3:30 a.m. Jimenez reported no disturbances as of 4 a.m.

“No riots yet,” Jimenez joked.

By that time the line stretched the length of the building complex. At its head were E.J. Corpuz, 17, Daniel Malese, 15, Geoffrey Corpuz, 13, and Marc Tabalbag, 14. The teens staked out the location beginning 6 p.m. Wednesday. But they did not miss Thanksgiving dinner, as their family delivered the food. The young men were excited to have made local television news due to their shopping efforts.

Each was assigned an area of the store. Televisions, video games, a wine cooler and laptops were on their lists. As 5 a.m. neared, the teens loaded their camping gear into a truck that came to meet them outside the store’s entrance — and prepared to complete the task they waited 35 hours to embark on.

Across the street at Wal-Mart, Rachel Sandt, 21, also arrived early. She was among the line of customers that spanned the length of the building and wrapped around the corner. Sandt and six helpers worked together to snatch their most-wanted items. She waited at the front of the store with a shopping cart and store flyer filled with circled items. The rest in her party scurried around picking up items Sandt sent them to retrieve.

“I stand in front with the cart. They run and get things,” she said.

The routine is well rehearsed and Sandt remained calm, collected and cheerful as her helpers tossed home appliances and clothes, among other things, into the cart. Shopping on Black Friday is a family tradition she has participated in since she met her husband at age 16, Sandt said. She began shopping with him then — and married him two years ago.

“I got into (Black Friday shopping) when I got married,” she said.

While Sandt stood patiently at the front of the store, eager customers began to create a bottleneck near the home electronics aisles. Pathways became blocked and frustrated customers looked for a way around the chaos. Plasma and high-definition televisions could be seen in almost every cart in this section.

“They are giving the TVs away at $200,” one customer could be heard saying on his cell phone.

Another customer irritably complained and cursed about the congestion, while still others quickly picked through iPod accessories selling at $10 each.

Not 15 minutes after the stores opened, customers began streaming back to the parking lot in as orderly a fashion as they had filed into the location. No injuries were reported.

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The term “Black Friday” is thought to have originated in Philadelphia around 1965, according to Wikipedia. What is regarded as the first day of Christmas shopping brought dense traffic similar to that formed in the October 1929 stock market crash, referred to as Black Tuesday.

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