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Black Friday starts early

First person in line headed to store after church Sunday

Posted: November 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Jessica Valdez, right, is the first person in line for a Black Friday sale in Saugus. She is joined on Tuesday by, from left, her brother Benjamin and her mother Veronica Valdez, and friends Nick Shorts, Lyndan Coleman Jr. and Lyndan Coleman Sr. (Jonathan Pobre/The Signal)

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It’s not just Black Friday anymore. Call it Sooty Sunday, Murky Monday or Tenebrific Tuesday.

Whatever the name, the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving bargain hunting has morphed into a week of camping out for deals, and some stores are responding by opening on Thanksgiving day or earlier.

Best Buy in Saugus appeared to attract the most stalwart shoppers in the Santa Clarita Valley on Tuesday.

With their eyes on the latest and greatest deals, a handful of people had already put up tents, chairs, tables and power generators at Best Buy days ahead of what is traditionally the nation’s busiest shopping day.

Best Buy stores throughout the nation reported early deal-seekers at their doors already for Black Friday sales offering hundreds of dollars off.

At the front of the queue on Bouquet Canyon Road on Tuesday were Jessica Valdez and her family. Valdez said she arrived the Tuesday before last year’s Black Friday and was second in line.

That meant she simply had to be at the front this time around.

“I left church early to get here on Sunday,” she said, laughing. “But it’s OK; my pastor understands.”

Valdez was joined in line by several family members and friends, including her brother Benjamin and her mother, Veronica.

For the Valdez family, Black Friday is akin to an annual camping trip. This year is the fifth in a row it has waited in line to be among the first to get some holiday shopping done.

“It’s all about the experience,” Veronica Valdez said. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

In addition to continuing its own tradition, the Valdez family decided to bring along some friends, including Nick Shorts and Lyndan Coleman, both of whom are making their first forays into the Black Friday waiting game.

“They’ve been showing us the ropes,” Shorts said.

Alan Gately, who waited in line at Best Buy with three of his friends, said he was first in line at Best Buy last year. But, since he showed up Monday, he is now relegated to third in line.

The ever-lengthening time line for waiting also affected Robert Estrada and Victor Granados, two 10-year veterans of Black Friday.

Like the Valdez family, the two said they view Black Friday as equal parts tradition and a chance to bond with family members.

Estrada said he takes preparations for the shopping spree seriously. That preparation includes taking a preliminary look at the store to see where the most-discounted items will be.

“I already have my game plan set,” Estrada said. “You can’t just go in there; you’ve got to prepare.”

The National Retail Federation estimates 147 million people will shop nationwide this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

At least two major chains — Best Buy and JCPenney — have been struggling economically and led the push for aggressive Black Friday discounting this year. Best Buy opens at midnight Friday, JCPenney at 5 a.m.

Best Buy Co. reported a third-quarter loss Tuesday, sending shares down 13 percent to their lowest level in more than a decade.



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