Hot start to shopping frenzy
Black Friday seems to start earlier every year.
For Jacob Garness of Hayfield, the biggest shopping day of the year started at 1:45 p.m. on the sidewalk in front of the Best Buy in south Rochester.
Hoping to pick up good deals on a laptop and some TVs, he pitched a tent with a space heater and camped out to claim the first spot in what grew to be a line of about 350 that stretched all the way around the corner.
After 15 hours on the sidewalk, a grinning Garness led the charge into the store when general manager Jason Makoutz opened the door at 5 a.m. The crowd filed in under the watchful eye of police.
Before the 6 a.m. opening of the Menards south store, cars vainly circled the parking lot looking for spaces, and about 450 to 500 people shivered in a long line.
When the store opened and the line started filing in, latecomers who had just pulled up and jumped out of warm cars caused a minor uproar by making a run at the door.
Menards managers earned a loud cheer from those in line when they blocked the late-minute dashers from pushing their way to the front.
"These people have waiting in line. You need to wait. It's only fair," store officials shouted to the crowd.
Within minutes, shoppers were pushing out full carts — including one with a space heater.
Retailers weren't the only businesses to roll out early-hour special deals for early hours this morning.
The Rochester McDonalds on South 48th Street gave away Coca Cola flashlights to the first 300 people who ordered at the drive-through, starting at 3 a.m. From 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., drive-through customers were eligible to win cash prizes.
In Austin, sisters Jennifer McNally and Stephanie Allen stayed up all night shopping.
"We were at Walmart at midnight, and at Younkers at 3 a.m.," McNally said. "We got what we wanted there."
Later the two were at Target to buy a video gaming chair, advertised at half its regular price. By the time they reached the area, the chairs were gone.
"It was too cold out; we wouldn't wait in line," Allen said.