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Black Friday starts Thanksgiving night; but lines start even earlier

By Kristen Consillio

LAST UPDATED: 7:08 a.m. HST, Nov 25, 2011

San Diego tourist Peter Ataie spent two days of his Hawaiian vacation waiting in line at Best Buy in Iwilei to save a couple hundred dollars on an LCD TV and two laptops.

Ataie was among the thousands of crazed customers who lined up as early as Tuesday to make sure their shopping lists would be fulfilled at deep discounts. 

"Yeah, it's not right to be doing my vacation time in a line, but I would've done the same back in San Diego," he said. "The economy's been really sad of course, we don't have (the same) income as we had a few years back. I'd rather sacrifice two days for spending less money."

An unprecedented number of retailers opened on Thanksgiving night to lure shoppers. For the first time, Toys R Us opened at 9 p.m., Wal-Mart started its Black Friday sale at 10 p.m. and Best Buy, Macy's and Target opened at midnight.

The line at Best Buy, which circled the block and wrapped around the Costco gas station, was about 20 percent longer this year. The store opened at midnight; five hours earlier than last year, according to store manager Shawn Troup.

Topping the door-buster deals was a 42-inch LCD television for $199. There were also deep discounts on laptops, iPads and cameras.

"It is the most amazing thing when those doors open up and you've got your mind and goals set up and you're rushing towards that TV," said Ataie, adding that the savings is worth the "torture of not going to the bathroom or eating good food" for two days. 

This year's deals, which included more video game products, attracted a younger crowd, including nine-year-old Theresa Alcaide of Salt Lake who stood in line for six hours with family at Best Buy for a coveted iPad 2.

Meanwhile, an estimated 600 people lined the streets at Toys R Us in Aiea by 8 p.m., according to spokeswoman Deborah Sharkey.

Kale Rego, 23, of Waianae was the first in line. 

"I get plenty money for blow this year," said Rego, who arrived at 6:30 a.m. Thursday for the second year in a row, and planned to spend $1,500, up from $300 last year. "The economy is kind of going back up a little bit and plenty more kids came into the world in my family."

Ala Moana Center was bustling with discount shoppers anxiously waiting to get into the popular retailers such as the Disney Store, Victoria Secret and Bath & Body Works. Many even came with young children and babies in tow.

By midnight, the line at Wal-Mart on Keeaumoku Street began to circle the block.

"We knew the lines were going to be crazy," said Downtown resident Keaka Garay, 45, who arrived at Wal-Mart at 1 a.m. "I decided to just show up after the crowds had already dispersed and it was worth showing up late rather than standing in line for hours. This is a tradition that we've carried on for years and family and friends still think we're insane. I have to agree with them sometimes."

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