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Posted on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

Camping for deals: First local shoppers pitch tents in preparation of Black Friday

By Lizzy Alfs


T'ontaye Jones and Jesse Morris camping outside Best Buy on Wednesday night.

Daniel Brenner |

The first eager Black Friday shoppers emerged Wednesday afternoon in Washtenaw County, staking their place in line outside a Best Buy before it opens early Friday morning.

Ann Arbor resident Jackie Berg and her sons, Jesse Morris and T'ontaye Jones, both 15-year-old Huron High School students, pitched a tent at the Best Buy off Ann Arbor-Saline Road around 2 p.m. Wednesday. Best Buy opens at 12 a.m. Friday morning.


T'ontaye Jones, Jesse Morris and Jackie Berg are camping outside Best Buy in Pittsfield Township to get the first Black Friday deals.

Lizzy Alfs |

The reason: to buy three 40-inch Toshiba televisions for $179 each.

"I heard a lot of people will start camping tonight around 9 o'clock and by morning, the line is wrapped around the corner," Berg said. "If you're going to come and camp out, you might as well make sure you're the first person in line."

Berg said this is their first year camping out for Black Friday, but she said the great deal combined with the good weather forecast made it a "once in a lifetime" opportunity.

"I figure it's not something I'd do every year, but I'd try it out. We'll see how it goes," she said.

The family pitched a tent and they have cards, cell phones, a portable DVD player and an iPod. They also have a battery to charge the electronics.

As for food, Berg said they're all set: "We have lots of snacks. We got some McDonald's and I think we're going to be ordering Jets Pizza from across the street."

"Tomorrow, we'll still get our Thanksgiving dinner. (My family) will be delivering it tomorrow after they eat."

Best Buy, which was bustling with shoppers Wednesday evening, is a popular Black Friday destination. Last year, about a dozen tents were erected at the store by 9 a.m. on Thursday. Hundreds of people were in line by the time the store opened at 12 a.m. Friday.

Best Buy is located in the same shopping center as Kohl's, Big Lots and Dick's Sporting Goods. A security car was circling the shopping center's parking lot Wednesday afternoon.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

What a great country where we are free to choose. Enjoy it while you can. In the coming years we will have no choice of products and services relying solely on government issued products, including food and clothing, and services. After all, the elimination of diversity requires conformity to the statist whim. Conformity to the socialist ideals that are "for the good of the people". Now straighten up comrades the turnip truck is around the corner and coming up the block!


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Glad the conspiracy theorists finally weighed in.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

Blue Law needs to be enforced nationwide. No more tramping on my holiday.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

Sadly, this is a huge trend that is likely to continue to grow over the years. But on the upside, so is the internet and peoples lack of privacy. If you'd like to know more about this family and what their occupation is, just check out any of the social media website (facebook, etc).

average joe

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

If this continues,(sadly) Thanksgiving Day will be called 'black friday eve'......

Wolf's Bane

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Ah, wonderful! The blind consumerism demonstrated by these boys is just heart wrenching to this old capitalist. Shall we give thanks?


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

We try to avoid all of the Black Friday hype. We put up our tree and decorations on Friday and on Saturday, we volunteer to ring the Salvation Army bell to help those in need. I think it is a much better lesson for my son to spend quality time with his family and helping others than the mindless shopping for a "deal".

average joe

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

Excellent way to spend the Thanksgiving weekend. And the lessons learned (& your son isn't the only student.....)will be around long after any cheap TV isn't.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

Where do they go to use the bathroom?

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

At my rental porta john. $5 a visit.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

HB, maybe there's an empty pee-can under the cash register.....


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Find your best deal online and BestBuy will beat it. All you have to do is ask.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

I remember when the meaning of Thanksgiving used to mean giving thanks for such things as having the love of your family and friends, a roof over your head, food on the table, etc......somewhere along the line it's now turned into giving thanks for saving $150 on a crappy flat screen TV made in China! How truly pathetic that as a society we've let these big box retailers hijack our holidays.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

Sheer stupidity! I will shop on the internet. Give me Amazon any time! (Bet this gets down votes!)


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

Not at all. I'm almost done with my shopping...about 80% of it done online. The rest I would like to get at the unique stores in town. There are fabulous deals online. LL Bean and Lands End have free shipping and gift cards with purchases and an extra 30% off. I get overwhelmed traipsing through crowded aisles.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

'Up' vote on shopping on the internet; maybe a 'down' vote on the hasty characterization--as tempting as it is. Though I agree that internet shopping is preferable to the Black Friday madness, we should probably remember that normal holiday shopping (I think there is such a thing) at local businesses is good for our community. Let's support our homegrown stores during the season, too.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

this gets worse and worse each year. when it is all said and done, other than a handful of bargains, you can probably find similar prices throught the year in various sales or online. these folks need to get a life - being first is not an honor in this case


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

This is such a sad snapshot of American family life. Scarfing down McDonald's and Jets, having Thanksgiving dinner delivered to you as you camp curbside to buy giant TVs, and setting up a virtual alter to all that is selfish and depressing with American culture. They don't mention having any books, newspapers, magazines, or homework. Nothing to read, nothing to engage their minds other than cards. It makes me wonder if families like this devote the same level of energy to things like doing homework, visiting museums, and becoming helpful members of society. Up next: camping out for the best spot on parent-teacher conference night at school?

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Such is the life of the 47%


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

I'm sure you know the answer to your wondering...

dirty irish

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 10:29 a.m.

a 40" 1080p HDTV with only a 60Hz refresh rate. no data listed on contrast ratio. no wi-fi capabilities. it may make your old VHS tapes look better, not much else. cheap is cheap. save your money boys.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

I hope Ms. Berg and others like her will learn that their participation in this style of mass-consumerism comes at a cost to others who would otherwise enjoy a holiday with family and friends. Now they have to work because their employer thinks they can get the Jackie Bergs of the world to camp out and come in the waning hours of Thanksgiving in order to purchase TVs and other electronic equipment that will be replaced in a matter of a few years. Do the employees of Best Buy or Wal-Mart have a choice? Sure they do. They can choose not to work on Thanksgiving, But chances are, that $8.50/hour job they walk away from is their primary source of income, and despite a tepid recovery, it's not like they can walk into another job at the snap of a finger. Merry Christmas.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

There are probably the same TV sets for $150. One that fell off of a truck!

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:50 a.m.

At Tiger Direct you can buy the same TV for $329. At $179 you save $150 dollars for waiting in line. They claim they will have spent 34 hours in line. That works out to 4.41 an hour. A better deal may have been to work at the McDonald's for 7.50 an hour for only 20 hours.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Hear, hear, 1bit! You make good sense. It would be nice if some of the consumerism and marketing would go away, but all any of can do to bring that about is to decide not to participate. I'm in favor of encouraging like-minded people to refrain from the Black Friday descent upon the stores and of then telling store managers afterward that they chose to do so. Maybe we can create a groundswell. As you say, the laws of supply and demand will take it from there.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

AH: Thanks. Although I cringe at "mass consumerism" creeping into one of my favorite family holidays, I take solace in noting that many families are creating a new tradition of at least shopping together (or waiting in line together). And maybe there is something of value in spending 34 hours with your family, even if it is under the auspices of buying a few TVs. Ultimately, the issue here is supply and demand. There has reached a critical mass of people who want to shop on Thanksgiving or at midnight, otherwise the businesses would not want to pay employees to be there. The labor issue is complicated because it really is a one-off type of thing and if they are paid an overtime / holiday wage then maybe it's okay (especially if they ask for volunteers, but I know there's no such thing). If one works at Walmart, there are a lot of better reasons to be unhappy with your job. So, I bemoan the changing nature of Thanksgiving but when I was growing up people used to complain that it had become dedicated to gluttony and sloth. Adding greed to it was probably the next logical step. Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Admiral Halsey

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 7:55 a.m.

1bit, thanks! So many people love to instantly think of all the terrible points of this (and of how good they are at basic mathematics), Who gives a damn? People want to wait in line, let em; the real issue is probably the labor rights of the giant corporations that open at midnight.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 5:16 a.m.

Multiply your $4.41 by three (they are buying 3 TVs). They'd have to be making $13.24/hr, working 34 hours, to make up the difference. Your math only works if you assume all three would be working at $4.41/hr. But they are not working and just sitting around and it probably only takes one of them to reserve their place in line. I'm not a fan of this by any means, but the economics do work out for some people if the deal is right.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

Let's go back to when I grew up in the 60's. After Thanksgiving the holiday shopping didn't start for us until early December. None of these phony and stupid gimmicks to bring us into stores. We just went Christmas shopping and called it a day. Bring me back to those days. Even during the Christmas season all stores closed at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday's. Now those were the days.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

average joe, I always use Christmas and Merry Christmas. I am not trying to downplay other peoples beliefs and will happily wish them well and respect their religious holy days. As for atheist I just wish them well. I am not trying to force my beliefs on them, just enjoying my religious freedom, just one of the many things we all should be thankful for on Thanksgiving.

average joe

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Brian, Joe, & Yapper- I agree with all of your comments, and find it very comforting that there are at least three other people that still refer to the upcoming season as "Christmas". Sadly, this is one word that you won't see in the advertisements or store posters anymore, and at the same time more emphasis is put on 'black friday' events over 'Thanksgiving day'. Does anyone else think that there is a connection?


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

I remember stores being closed on Sunday during the early 70's. Something called blue laws. I refuse to be any part of this mayhem called "Black Friday." It should be called either "Green Friday" for all of the cash spenders (smart choice) or "Plastic Friday" for everyone who is about to max out the Credit Cards and be up to their eyeballs in minimum payments for the next 3 or 4 years. In my family we have an agreement. The kids get one toy or device depending on age and many checks to spend after Christmas. Adults get together for some good laughs. A no gift agreement between adults is in place. This makes the whole process stress free, and keeps the true meaning and spirit of Christmas along with the Holiday Season real. My five siblings and their families have nothing to do with this mayhem either. It's totally ridiculous, way to time consuming and expensive to be shopping for almost 30 days.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

I also remember those times Brian. We also didn't have the Christmas displays in the stores until after Thanksgiving, unlike now when they start popping up before Halloween.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 2:52 a.m.

I camped out at REI last year. . .got a great deal on some killer camping gear


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 2:21 a.m.

34 hours in line to save $240. That's less than minimum wage, even for the teenagers. Hello?

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:58 a.m.

A great lesson in Obamanomics.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

I'd love to know Ms. Berg's occupation.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.


Admiral Halsey

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:49 a.m.

AMERICA! This would be pretty fun with some pals, and it looks like they're having a ball so far, but boy what a concept.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:39 a.m.

Camp Take A Number?

Laura Jones

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

So sorry for people who are forced to work Thanksgiving day due to others greed.

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

"We may be forced to work the schedule the boss lays out if we wish to keep the job." And if you don't like it, then it's time to go find a different job.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

Ms. Jones, I'm not sure why you're accusing people (it's not clear exactly who) of greed. The necessity of remaining competitive in a tough environment probably forces retailers to open earlier and stay open longer, because it's what consumers demand. If the retailers go out of business, owners and employees alike lose (and so, ultimately, do customers). As for the consumers, well, maybe it's greed, but I'd be a little reluctant to throw that term at people who may be doing their best to get gifts for their families within a budget. Again, you might recall that times are hard for a lot of folks. Yes, there's some frenzy about the Black Friday thing that doesn't sit well with me, either, but I'm equally put off by the imputation of bad motives to people by others who can't possibly have any direct knowledge of what's going on in those people's heads (or lives). Maybe I'm still reacting against the recent horrible election season. It was certainly full of that kind of thing.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

"Forced' and "wish to" don't go together.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

Suspect - We may be forced to work the schedule the boss lays out if we wish to keep the job. There are those of us who do wish to stay employed, you know.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

This is America. Nobody is forced to work any place at any time.

Honest Abe

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

You can have black Friday. I will still get the same deal, if not a better one, without all the nonsense.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

I remember seeing a television report years ago about shoppers camped out at a Best Buy in Madison Heights. The first guy in line had been there in his tent since Monday afternoon of Thanksgiving week. The reporter asked him, "Does waiting in line for days cause any difficulty for your job or family responsibilities?" Long pause, then finally the guy replied, "My what?" He is my god.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

I remember years ago we relented to having a television in our childs room. We went to ABC on Black Friday at 8:30 in the morning and given a card for a 24 inch television for $80. The original value of the television was $200.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 4:30 a.m.

I got a TV from Best Buy on Black Friday 3 years ago. It was at about 9 pm. It was about $400. And it was 40 inches. I felt no need to camp out a day and a half before; I probably wouldn't have saved that much. Although I do admit, $179 is looking a lot better than what I paid years ago. Oh well. Time is currency in my view.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

I wish all the workers who work Black Friday would go on strike.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

This get dumber and dumber every year. Mindless mass-consumersism over actually enjoying a holiday with friends and family...pass.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Middle America 8:08 AM on 11/22/2012 "This get dumber" : | LOL, thank you for pointing that out. I couldn't look dumberer.

Middle America

Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

"This get dumber" : |