For Some, Black Friday Is an Urban Adventure

The annual ritual — and for many, social event — known as Black Friday was well under way, with many of the predawn shoppers already heading home for a long bargain-hunter's nap.
Marcus Yam for The New York Times

From left, Norma Delgado, Anette Mero and Damaris Mero pushed their items forward while waiting in line to pay, during Black Friday at the Toys R Us in Times Square. More Photos »

Better-than-expected weather in much of the country helped draw out crowds, but even in the Northeast, where cold rain and sleet dampened several states, shoppers were not deterred.
For some, the day was as much an urban outdoor adventure as it was deal-hunting. By 5 a.m. Friday Derrick Love and David Martinez, both 22, had spent nearly 48 hours camped on the sidewalk outside a Best Buy in Oakland, Calif.
"There's no other day of the year you could get away with this," said Mr. Martinez, who works at a movie theater and intended to buy discount Blu-ray DVDs.
Mr. Martinez and Mr. Love got a little help, and lots of encouragement, during their Black Friday pilgrimage.
Store employees came out to greet them Wednesday morning when the two, who grew up as neighbors and have been friends since infancy, showed up with borrowed tent and blankets.
Soon after their arrival, Best Buy installed two portable toilets in the parking lot for their use. Someone then came by and gave them a pizza. During the day on Wednesday, shoppers peeked into their tent and asked to have their photos taken with the two holding up one finger, indicating their place in line.
When the temperature dropped at night, police officers checked to make sure they were O.K.
"They wanted to make sure we were still alive," said Mr. Love, who works as a security guard and planned to spend $349 on a Toshiba laptop that usually sells for $600. Mr. Martinez snuck home to his parents briefly on Thursday night and brought back paper plates piled high with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. They ate Thanksgiving dinner under the street lights as the line of shoppers swelled into the hundreds behind them.
"We're on a huge adventure," said Mr. Love. "One day I'm going to tell my grandkids about this, how we were the first."
Across the country, Tony Li, a 22-year-old student, was the first person in line at a Best Buy in Patchogue, N.Y. Despite a chill rain, the line for the 5 a.m. opening stretched down the street.
Mr. Li said he had been waiting, sleeping in his car and playing poker to pass the time since 9 a.m. Thursday. He said he planned to spend up to $5,000 on TVs and computers for himself, his friends and his family.
"It's fun for me because this is what I do on Thanksgiving," he said.
Many stores and malls reported that there were more customers, and longer lines, than last year.
Lindsay Evans, 22, a student who lives in Bohemia, N.Y., started shopping at nearby outlet malls at midnight. She said she would go home after she had bought DVDs as presents at Best Buy.
"They did a lot of advertising about the morning sales so that's what brought me out," Ms. Evans said. "This is my last stop, then I'm going to bed."
Many people in line said they planned to buy gifts, but that was not the case for Julio Jaber, 25, a driver from Patchogue, who was there to buy a 55-inch TV.
"It's for myself," he said, shaking his head. "For somebody else? Forget it."
At 3:30 a.m., in the parking lot of the Perimeter Mall in Sandy Springs, Ga., near Atlanta, Wallace Kennedy was trying to get his second wind.
Mr. Kennedy, 25, an audio-visual technician, was attempting to catch some sleep with his feet hanging out the window of his white Chevy Impala, while his wife Neijma, who is seven months pregnant, reclined in the passenger seat.
It was already their third stop, after Old Navy and Wal-Mart. They had a trunk full of plastic shopping bags containing clothes, board games and an ice-cream making kit.
Ms. Kennedy said she liked the ritual of early-morning shopping, but Mr. Kennedy said he had never done this before.
"There's got to be a better way," he said, after giving up on sleeping in the car. "We've been up all night. We're trying to get the best deals."
Fueled by potato chips, tea and cigarettes, they planned to stop at Target for deals on Wii video games.
They want to get all of their Christmas shopping in time for Mr. Kennedy to go to work. Ms. Kennedy planned on heading to bed — she could feel her baby kicking. "She's not used to being up this early," she said. "After this, we're done."
By 3:50 a.m., about 75 people were gathered at the entrance to Macy's inside the Perimeter Mall. Once the store opened, one sleepy man ran into a glass window, thinking it was a door. He was uninjured, and declined to give his name, but said, "It's too early."
Three teenage girls were among those waiting — Fiorella Puccio, 19, a college student; and Lorena Puccio, 19, and Paula DaSilva, 16, both high school students.
They were toward the back of the crowd, but they knew what to do.
"You run and grab whatever you can and then you see if you even want it," Fiorella Puccio said. "I do this every year."
They were looking for shoes, boots and other winter clothes for themselves. Christmas shopping will happen another day.
They are veterans of this type of shopping, laughing at the people jostling to be at the front of the line. "Everyone gets inside in a second anyway," Fiorella said.
A few miles away, in Atlanta, at Lenox Square mall, the Apple Store was one of the earliest to open in the state, so people drove from across Georgia. There were about 75 people in line just before the store opened.
The first in line — Jose Aguiar, 50; his son Tiago, 20; and two of Tiago's friends — drove 45 minutes from Kennesaw, Ga., and arrived at 2 a.m.
The store opened at 5 a.m., and by 5:02 a.m., they were at the front of the check-out line, with an iPad and four iPods. It cost $1,533.

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