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Shoppers camp out for low prices

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    People were already lining up Wednesday to get the best deals on Black Friday at Best Buy’s Iwilei store. (Clockwise from left) Clara Jhun, Joseph Diaz, Andrew Aguirre, Bruce Stewart (in chair), Alian Anjum, Nicholas Speights, 11, his brother Ryan, 8, and their dad, Adam, play a card game of Uno on the sidewalk next to the store entrance as store customers come and go.

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Friday is still days away but people are already lining up to get the best deals on Black Friday sales at Best Buy’s Aiea store on Wednesday. There were some empty chairs and a couple of people to hold their places in line for those planning to return to the Best Buy in Aiea for the Black Friday sale.

Ewa Beach brothers Nicholas and Ryan Speights, ages 11 and 8, huddled together with about half a dozen strangers to play a board game while waiting in line for the once-a-year Black Friday deal on the latest 50-inch TVs.

“This is our first time going to Black Friday,” said Nicholas, who planned to camp Wednesday in the wind and cold in sleeping bags fronting the Iwilei Best Buy store with their father, Adam Speights, a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. “We’re moving our Thanksgiving over to Friday. Our father’s in the Air Force so we don’t really see him that much. It seems fun right now because we’re going to play (the board game) ‘Risk’ in a little bit. It’s exciting for now. Let’s just see how it goes tomorrow.”

Ryan added, “I wanted to come because I wanted to spend time with him.”

Adam Speights said there was nothing he found online comparable to the in-store-only-special TV going on sale Thursday for $179.

“I enjoy what we’re doing over here, just talking story,” said Speights, originally from rural Louisiana.

Kinau resident Norman Dias, 65, was the first in line at noon to make sure he could snag two TVs.

“It’s a steal,” said the first-time Black Friday shopper who planned to eat his Thanksgiving meal in line. “I know it’s worth it … because the price, you can’t beat it. My granddaughter will be so happy to have a big-screen TV. I never did have a big-screen TV so I’m excited for that. It is thrilling. You’d be crazy if you don’t pick up this deal.”

Kalihi resident Andrew Aguirre, 30, has been waiting in Black Friday lines on and off for the past 10 years.

“I do it for the fun,” he said. “It’s just fun to meet new people. We all kind of share similar interests. You’re all there for a common interest and you kind of all bond over that even if you’re completely different. You sacrifice one family and gain another.”

The biggest shopping weekend of the year is expected to get 69 percent of Americans, or 164 million people, to lighten their wallets, according to the National Retail Federation, which recently surveyed 7,439 consumers about their shopping plans.

Black Friday, traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season, has evolved in recent years, first creeping into Thanksgiving, then becoming a weeklong and now monthlong event, which retailers say has diluted the excitement of the once-large crowds.

“Now that every competitor’s opening earlier and earlier, people are planning out their shopping sprees,” said Melissa Green, assistant manager for Toys R Us near Pearlridge Center, which started its Black Friday sales on certain items on Sunday. “Now people can shop more versus having to go stand in line and wait for the one day it opens up. It makes it (less) exciting but it does help with the crowd control. Not everyone’s rushing in at one time.”

Green is anticipating more than 100 people will wait in line at the toy store, much fewer than in previous years.

“We’ll still get a line but not as extreme. It used to be at least 500 to 800 people in line back in the day,” she said. “It’s not as big as it used to be anymore. I miss that excitement and that rush. You used to come in and see that big line; now you don’t.”

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