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Posted on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Shoppers tell all: Which deals make Black Friday worth the hassle?

By Lizzy Alfs


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

Daniel Brenner |

Shopping on Black Friday takes some serious commitment.

Lines are long, hours are strange, stores are packed and most importantly, it now overlaps with Thanksgiving Day.

But still, thousands of Ann Arbor area shoppers formed lines, some as early as Wednesday, hoping to snag the best deals on hot ticket items and get holiday shopping done early.

So what makes the Black Friday hassle worth it?

“If I end up getting a (40-inch Toshiba TV), yeah, I’d be really excited because it’s a really good deal,” said Black Friday shopper Jody Vogel, who got in line at the Best Buy store in Pittsfield Township six hours before it opened.


The first Black Friday shoppers in line at the Target store off Ann Arbor-Saline Road.

Lizzy Alfs |

“To be honest, I’d rather be at home with my family, but for the prices, it’s worth it,” she continued.

Vogel wasn’t alone: hundreds of shoppers at Best Buy, Sears and Target were looking to buy discounted TVs.

The Toshiba TV deal at Best Buy is what drew Jamie Berg and her two sons, both 15-year-old Huron High School students, to the Pittsfield Township store 32 hours before it opened. They pitched tents, ordered Jets Pizza and kept busy with electronics and cards.

At the Sears store in Briarwood Mall, only the first six people in line received a ticket for a 50-inch Toshiba TV for $299. After the tickets were distributed at 7 p.m., dozens of disappointed shoppers left their places in line to check out other stores.

Other high-in-demand items included an iPod touch, Nintendo 3DS, Barnes & Nobles’ Nook, tablets and laptops.

“I’m buying an iPod touch for my son. It’s $195 everywhere, but at Target a $40 gift card comes with it. Best Buy is a $50 gift card, but I’d rather stand in this line and it opens earlier,” said Sarah Harris, one of the first people in line at the Target off Ann Arbor-Saline Road.

While discounted electronics certainly drew the crowds, many shoppers were purchasing children’s gifts for the holiday season.

At 7 p.m., an hour before the Toys “R” Us store in Arborland Center opened, hundreds of people waited in line for the best toy discounts. Meanwhile, security guards kept a close eye on the line and parking lot.

In her second year of participating in Black Friday, Samantha Hensler said she had one gift idea in mind: “Barbies. All Barbies.”

Hensler’s four-year-old daughter loves the dolls, and she said the discounted prices were enough to bring her out to the store two hours before it opened.

“It was crazier last year; this is not as bad,” she said. “It’s weird, because it’s warmer out.”

The die-hard Black Friday shoppers that camped overnight on Wednesday were lucky to have unseasonably warm weather the past two days. But by 9 p.m. on Thursday, pouring rain caused those still in lines to get drenched.

Kimberly Rafko, the first shopper in line at Toys “R” Us, said it was a $40 dollhouse that caught her eye. After Toys “R” Us, she planned to head over to Target for movies and other toys.

“I’m usually front in line, so I checkout sooner and get out of the chaos,” Rafko said. “But really, I enjoy doing it. I think it’s fun.”

For many shoppers, the deals are the reason they wait in lines for hours, but tradition and camaraderie play a roll, too.

“We’ve all become friends here,” said Kim Fietz, a shopper in line at Sears. “We’ve shared some laughs and shouted things back in line to joke with people.”

Jamie Roberts, a shopper at Target added: “I’ve been coming out on Black Friday for 10 years. I’ve made friends and had a lot of great times.”

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


Ben Petiprin

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 : 3:39 a.m.

Since we no longer manufacture anything, I wonder how much of the U.S. economy is made up of Black Friday and other holiday feeding frenzies. If large numbers refused to participate, it could really shake up the power structure. Or at least make them take notice.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

was DISGUSTED by the feverish pitch of unfettered consumerism at Toys R Us last night. Truly disturbing, this American humanity of ours. Families streaming out of the store with at least one and often two carts stuffed full of cheap plastic and 5-second instant gratifications.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

I launched Black Friday to from the comfort and convenience of my home.The computer and my fingers bought it all for me.


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Who was the wag that opined, "A fool and his/her money is soon parted?"


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Paul, wasn't that P.T. Barnum?

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Not how I meant it, but I see the mistake. It should say: thousands of Ann Arbor area shoppers formed lines, some as early as Wednesday.... Only about a dozen came out Wednesday. Thousands were there by Thursday! Thank you :)


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Wolf's Bane........Considering it said " lines " which would cover all stores in the area and it said Ann Arbor " area " ( sorry, but Ann Arbor is not the only place in the county ) I don't see much of a exaggeration here


Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

which only proves that fools are born everywhere.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Nov 23, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

"thousands of Ann Arbor area shoppers formed lines as early as Wednesday" Yeah right. Exaggerate much?