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Bargains bring campers out early for Black Friday

Jennifer Sprouse • Nov 22, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Kevin Blankenstein went camping Wednesday. He reached his site about 3 p.m. and proceeded to set up his tent, which included memory foam padding and lots of blankets and pillows.

Instead of sleeping in the woods though, he woke up Thursday morning in the parking lot of Best Buy, 3222 Peoples St., after staying overnight to be first line for the store’s Black Friday midnight sales.

“I’ve never gone Black Friday shopping, so it’s like my first ... experience and I wanted to go off with like a big bang,” Blankenstein said. “I’m getting a TV and blu-ray player.”

He said when he first arrived at the store, he was all by himself and decided to text some friends to hang out with him during his wait.

“They all arrived all at once. We just all hung out. Everybody brought me some food,” Blankenstein said. “My parents got me some movies from Best Buy, so I’ve been watching some movies.”

He said customers approached him to find out his reasons for camping out.

“I think it’s fun. I love camping out ... just being outside, but I’ve never really camped outside ... in the city before,” he said. “I really wanted to be first in line. It’s going to be exciting to be in front of all of those people.”

Blankenstein said this Thanksgiving was already going to be a little unconventional because his brother is in California with the Science Hill High School band.

“We’re going to do Thanksgiving when he gets back,” he said.

While he is waiting to grab hold of some of the deals from the Black Friday sale, when asked about the perks of being the first in line, Blankenstein beamed, saying simply “bragging rights.”

By around 10 a.m. Thursday, Blankenstein had been joined by two more tents, but beyond that there was not a crowd.

Mark Stokes and his wife, Amanda, occupied the third tent, which they said they bought at Kmart across the street before coming to set up around 6:30 a.m.

“We’re pretty much waiting until, I guess, 10 o’clock. They hand out numbers tonight and we’re going to try to get the 40-inch TV they have,” Stokes said. “We’re going to go look for the tablet also.”

He said a few people had stopped by to look around, but predicted the line would not start to form until 1:30-2 p.m.

Stokes said that while they may risk their spot in line by leaving for a few hours to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with their family, he said it’s been a fun experience.

“I guess it’s something else to get into on the holidays,” he said.

While Best Buy opened at midnight for shoppers, Target stores opened even earlier at 9 p.m. There were no campers at the store in Johnson City, 2116 N. Roan St., at mid-morning on Thursday. But those who did show up later in the day were greeted by a shopping cart barricade leading from where the line would start in front of the store.

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