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Shoppers Camp Out For Black Friday at Best Buy

Black Friday bargain hunters in Sarasota have a strategy all to their own.

Jason Tutt is a man on a mission.

Since 9 p.m. on Monday night, he has been waiting in line outside the Glengary Shoppes Best Buy in order to take advantage of the Black Friday sales. That timing put him in squarely in position at the very front of the line.

“Every year it’s a tradition for me,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for eight years, and I’ve been number one in line for five out of the eight years.”

The term “Black Friday” originated in the 1960s and was used to mark the day that kicked off the Christmas shopping season—the day after Thanksgiving. The word “black” is a throwback to the days when accounting ledgers were kept by hand. Black ink in the ledger referred to a business making a profit, and red ink indicated a loss.

Since the '60s, Black Friday has been big business for retailers, sometimes even saving the sales year for them. And every year, the sales seem to get bigger and the lines outside the stores longer. Best Buy, where Tutt was camped out, always seems to have a long line out front well before the day after Thanksgiving, and it starts forming earlier each year.

“For every few hours the stores open early, I come 12 hours earlier,” Tutt said.

Best Buy is always packed on the busiest shopping day of the year, with good reason. According to a website devoted specifically to ads, stores, deals and general information about Black Friday, www.BlackFriday.com, the newest tech and electronic gadgets are always the hot sellers.

BlackFriday.com claims that the most popular tech items this year are: Tablets and eReaders, HDTVs, Laptops, Smart Phones and Audio/Video items, which would include the brand new Wii U, iPods, MP3s and DVD and Blu-ray players.

Tutt says that he has some specific items in mind he is looking to purchase from Best Buy, and suggests that anyone who camps out in anticipation of Black Friday know exactly what they want.

“There are two Lenovo laptops selling for $187 a piece that are usually $300 and change,” he said. “And there’s a 50-inch LCD TV for $399 that sells for at least $500.”

Besides the thrill of the hunt, those types of savings are the big draw for hitting the line well before the sale begins. Kayla Butler isn’t sure if she’s going to be waiting in line this year, but said that two years ago, she and her friend took her brother’s big tent and some lounge chairs and joined the Best Buy line on Thanksgiving night.

“I wanted a Sony Vaio laptop and I got it, with a total savings of around $300,” she said. “It was so worth it, because I use it every day. I would definitely do it again, just because it was actually fun.”

Butler said she and her friend met some people from Tampa in line and they put all their chairs in a circle, sat around and played music. She even still talks to the people she met that night. That sense of community with like-minded people sharing a common goal and limited distractions is something that Tutt confirmed. He pointed across Glengary Street at the home of someone he knows.

“Last year, we ran a 350-foot extension cord from that house, and on this wall we had a projector screen,” he said. “We were playing Wii on the wall.”

They also cook their meals together on grills, and if they need to take a break, say for a restroom visit inside the store or at IHOP, their line neighbors are pretty understanding.

So if you have the stamina, and a home-based business, like Tutt does, waiting in line for some super savings doesn’t sound like a bad idea. The people in line are like pioneers of the old west. Sleeping together, eating together and communing while waiting for the hunt to begin. The only difference is these pioneers are armed with tablets, laptops and smart phones. Happy hunting.

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