With tents pitched behind a barricade outside a Glendora Best Buy, about 20 Black Friday shoppers were patiently awaiting doors to open for those widely advertised doorbuster deals.
Best Buy opens its doors for Black Friday at midnight.
But it was only a Tuesday afternoon, and the Black Friday campers have braved the cold autumn nights, some as early as Sunday, in hopes they will be the lucky ones to snag a flatscreen television and other electronics for steals.
Abel Serrano, 23 of Glendora, said people passing by are always looking at him and his fellow campers as if they are a side show. He said they have endured sub-50 degree nights. Fast food seems to be the only option. With only a tablet to keep him entertained, Serrano said days can go by excruciatingly slow.
But there’s one thing that’s getting Serrano to end of his 5-day stakeout – a 40-inch flatscreen Toshiba television for $179.
“If you think about it, it’s a steal,” said Serrano. “Where else are you going to get a new television screen for that price?”
Michael Ramierez, 20 of Glendora, who staked his spot Monday, is also looking to grab a 40-inch television.
But even waiting several days in line doesn’t guarantee you will get the item you want. Best Buy has said anywhere from 10 to 100 televisions will be made available on Black Friday, meaning Ramierez – number 18 in line – could miss out on the high-demand item.
But for Ramierez, just the possibility of getting his hands on the television for such a cheap price is worth the days in line.
“I’d rather wait here than completely miss out on the opportunity to get it for this cheap,” said Ramierez. “Because this cheap is just phenomenal.”
The campers almost always work in groups, said Serrano, each person staying in their spots for shifts at a time. This ensures the campers can have time to shower, eat, go to work or just take a break from staring at a parking lot all day.
On Thanksgiving Day, some campers will opt to spend the day in their tents, depending on family members or friends to deliver their Thanksgiving meals.
It’s the part of Black Friday camping that Serrano said he regrets.
“You might not miss out on the food, but you’re missing out on the family time, “ said Serrano.
But the Black Friday campers remain focused on the deals ahead. Serrano said he has a mental map of attack once doors open.
“The biggest things are the TV’s,” said Serrano. “You grab those first. You head to what you want and you don’t even look or think about it. You just grab.”
But not only do shoppers have to worry about limited inventory, there are the sneaky shoppers who try to cut in line at the last minute.
“It’s frustrating,” said Serrano. “You spend days in line in a tent, and some idiot wants to cut in front of you.” He said the moments before doors open is always pandemonium.
With anxiety levels high, and people pushing and shoving for position, tempers can flare easily.
This year, Best Buy is passing out wristbands to the people camped outside Wednesday. Those with wristbands will be allowed to enter the store first on Black Friday.
Despite the long days and being exposed to nature’s elements, the campers outside of Best Buy say they are making best of the situation. Many of the campers have formed friendships, watching movies together on their laptops and portable televisions, said Serrano.
“You’ve got to make it fun, or you’ll go crazy,” said Serrano. “But then again, we might be crazy anyway.”