Shoppers camp outside store to get early bargains

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Getting the jump on Black Friday
Chrysta Mathes (right) of Riverview cooks bacon for herself and Matthew Rupert of Gibraltar Nov. 23 in front of Best Buy, 16221 Ford Road, as they, along with four other shoppers, wait for Black Friday sales to begin. Best Buy opened its doors at midnight Nov. 24.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – As the mad dash for the best deals on Black Friday began, a group of shoppers got a head start.

Six people from communities including Detroit and Gibraltar were camped out about 10 a.m. Nov. 23 at Fairlane Meadows’ Best Buy, 16221 Ford Road, some waiting in line since Nov. 15.

“We’re crazy,” said Riverview resident Chrysta Mathes, who was there with her husband, Justin. “It’s the whole experience. If it wasn’t cold, we could be out here for weeks.”

Detroit resident Victoria Blake agreed, though she said she sympathizes with store employees. Blake has waited in line for Black Friday deals since 2007.

“It’s kind of bad for the employees,” she said. “But it’s better for us because it cuts back six hours that we have to waste.”

Stores have started to catch on to the furor, she said, by limiting the amount of items for sale.

“They tell you what the limit is,” Blake said, “so you’re not wasting your time standing here.”

Gibraltar resident Tiffany Kimes said the driving rain Nov. 22 made for a rough night, but the shoppers pulled through. Plans for the camp-out including grilling bacon and a planned Thanksgiving Day dinner complete with turkey. Blake said she has, in the past, hosted Thanksgiving dinner on Black Friday at her house.

“We’re going to deep-fry a turkey dinner,” Blake said. “I’ll give up Thanksgiving for a sale.”

In addition to the turkey and bacon, Kimes’ boyfriend, Gibraltar resident Matthew Rupert, a soldier with the U.S. Army Reserve, brought with him to the parking lot campsite field rations leftover from his return in April 2010 from deployment in Iraq.

Camper Justin Mathes said two other Best Buy locations were sold out of the items they were looking for: a 32-inch television set for $200 (regularly priced at $380) and a computer for $500 (regularly priced at about $800). Blake said in previous years, the line has stretched to the end of the store, up to a few hundred feet away.
Other stores are just as hectic, if not more so, they said.

“Toys-R-Us is crazy,” Chrysta Mathes said. “The (Best Buy) in Taylor went all the way around the store to the end of the street.”

Even though they encountered some hostility from store employees, who they said were rude, the shoppers remained undaunted. They said they even called Dearborn Police, who said they were allowed to camp there.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Kimes said.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at