Getting a jump on Black Friday deals
Black Friday starts a bit earlier every year, but for the Best Buy in Delafield it actually started last Friday - a whole week in advance.
Mike Franke of Waterford, and Mike Estrada of Waukesha are just two of the people who lined up last week. Warren Hornik of Hartland joined them on Sunday.
"We were first in the state, second in the country this year. California beat us by a day," Franke said.
Franke - first in line - was waiting for a 50-inch LED TV for his living room, 40-inch LCD TV for mom, a laptop for his wife, PlayStation 3 for his kids and a tablet. He'll be spending about $1,200, but saving around $1,400.
Hornik is getting a new laptop for his teenage daughter, a student at Arrowhead. He might get a TV.
Estrada needs a new TV, too.
"My son said our old TV exploded. It was like out of a cartoon. He said sparks flew out of the side, and smoke came up from it," he said.
They describe themselves as self-sufficient.
When we visited with them on Tuesday, they had a satellite set up so they could watch TV. They have heat, electricity, a generator and a DVD player. They had blankets, air mattresses and memory foam. They also trade places every once in a while, with each other or with family members, so they can take breaks, shower, use the bathroom, eat and work out. The store has also worked with local law-enforcement officers ensure the safety of their campers, especially after business hours.
"We'll have a potluck here (on Thanksgiving). There are three of us that have done this for two years now, so our families come out and bring our meals. We set up a table out here. … I never knew any of these people (outside of Black Friday). We met in line two years ago, and we just kept in touch on Facebook and now we meet all the time," Franke said.
The potluck had a Wisconsin twist to it last year. In addition to the turkey trimmings, they also ate bear and venison.
And maybe it is a Wisconsin thing.
When other folks use their free time to go hunting, a lot of Black Friday shoppers simply choose to go camping instead.
"Are (the other stores') campers so nice? Maybe. Maybe not," said Best Buy general manager Greg Banes. "I think that the people out here help each other out, and while there's a little competition - you know 'I'm first in line' - outside of that, I think that our line is really well handled. And the people in line help each other out. They almost police themselves."
Franke thought there would be around 2,000 people in line when the doors opened at midnight Thursday.
Banes said they typically make three-quarters of a million dollars on Black Friday and expect to see between 500 and 700 customers during their first hour alone. It's a busy day for any store, but especially for Best Buy and their long-standing vendors.
"I really want everyone to enjoy their Thanksgiving as much as possible. If they choose to come out to the stores they know they can always ask for the local leader if they have any needs or wants, and we'll take care of it," Banes said, "That is important to me, for them to understand that I'm not just a Best Buy employee. I like to have fun with the local community as well."
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