Local shoppers assemble early, race the aisles at midnight
At 11:45 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, Angie Kasel, 26, of Adams, stood outside Best Buy South at the midway point in a line that stretched around the building. She had not moved since 8:30 p.m. because, according to her calculations, she stood to save nearly $700 on the combined purchases of a TV, an XBox, and a dryer.
Inside Best Buy, Jason Makoutz, general manager, stood on a counter and addressed his employees, who were assembled in the entrance of the store.
"All your dedication, all the turkey you didn’t get to eat yesterday — comes to a head today. The line is huge, the longest we’ve seen it in years... Please, take a minute, take a deep breath, it’s all going to be OK. Enjoy the day, it’s awesome."
This kind of pep talk is becoming more and more common on Thanksgiving night, as a greater number of retailers in Rochester and around the country opened at midnight on "Black Friday."
Employees at Best Buy showed up to work as early as 11:30 a.m. Thursday to prepare for the midnight rush.
Shoppers too are starting their quests for cheaper holiday gifts. Some, however, go to extremes.
Nathan Stahl, 23, of Austin, started standing in line at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. His motivation: "My cousin needed some help," he says.
Just nine minutes before Best Buy's midnight opening, Makoutz stood on a pillar in front of the exit door and explained the rules to the shoppers amassed in front of the door.
"No mad rushes, no beat-downs, no one getting trampled and dying… Get in line, be respectful," he said.
Precisely at midnight, Stahl was the first person admitted through the doors. He missed Thanksgiving dinner and endured hours in the cold, but he had no regrets, "It was worth it — 100 percent worth it. I sacrificed all of it for the kids," he says.
Thirty minutes later, across the parking lot at Target South, the line was still snaking around the building. Inside, the electronics aisles were crowded and word spread that the store was sold out of TVs.
Ben Pollock, 20, of Hayfield, is the new owner of a 40-inch plasma television.
"We waited in line for about three hours and we were still about the 100th people in," he said. "It was a mob and we sprinted to (the electronics department), and the person in front of me grabbed the TV I wanted, so I had to settle for this, but I’m OK with this."
Back at Best Buy, Gavin Sparks, 14, of Rochester, described yet another method of Black Friday shopping: "We just came really late and just waited for the entire flow of people to come in first."