Deal or thrill: Black Friday shoppers turn out in masses

Tina Harbuck
Daniel Roman, left, and Nathan Cook, both of Destin, take one last look at the Best Buy sales paper as they wait in line. Cook was hoping to get a big television.

Whether it’s for the deal or just the thrill, shoppers turned out in droves for Black Friday — some earlier than others.

Rob Fagan, along with his wife Paige and mom and dad, Linda and Robert Fagan, all of Crestview, lined up in front of Best Buy in Destin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday — almost 38 hours before the doors were to open at midnight Thursday.

“I’m here for the 55 inch high def 3D TV,” Rob said. “It’s a 1,000 dollars off.”

This wasn’t Fagan’s first time to stand in line for Black Friday.

“I’ve done it seven years in a row, but this is my first time to be first in line,” he said.

Besides the TV he was looking to take home a 27-inch computer monitor and maybe a tablet or laptop.

The Fagan family was in line almost 12 hours before they were joined by anyone else. And at 6 o’clock Thursday evening, there were only six people in line. But by 10 p.m. the line was wrapped all the way down the front of Pet Smart, Office Depot and Thomasville Furniture and down the side.

“We came to keep each other company,” Rob’s mom said.

His dad, Robert, said they had done the Black Friday standing in line thing a couple of times, “but hope this is the last.”

Although they were in line when most folks were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with their families, they didn’t miss out on the meal.

“We had Thanksgiving dinner brought in from Niceville … we just tailgated,” Rob said.

When it’s all said and done, however, Rob said, “I’m looking forward to watching football and the University of Miami win.”

The Gainer girls of Crestview got to Best Buy about 4 p.m. Thursday and were looking to snag a laptop and TV.

“This is our first time,” Rachel Gainer said. “We’re espresso coffee-ed up and ready to go.

Joining Rachel, Brittany and Angela Gainer was their friend, Louis Hernandez.

“I figured I might as well try it out one time,” Louis said. “It may be the first and last time.”

As for the Houston family of Destin, who were way back in the line, they were not losing heart.

“I’ve done this the last five or six years,” said Melissa Houston, who was joined by daughters Delancey and Rylee and husband Lance.

“It just kind of gets you in the spirit,” of the holidays, Melissa said. “It gets you ready,” Delancey chimmed in.

“It’s like going to a ball game kind of fun,” Lance said.

For Daniel Roman and Nathan Cook of Destin it was their first time to venture out on Black Friday eve.

“This is our first camp out,” Roman said.

Cook was looking to get a TV, laptop or I-pad.

“I want to have a huge TV for football and basketball.” And by 11:15 p.m. he had his voucher for a 65-inch TV.

Haesol Jung drove all the way from Troy, Ala., for a chance at a television.

“This is my second time to do this,” Jung said. “It’s a lot of fun and you get a chance to buy something for a really good price.”

Tracy Dibenedetto of Destin says she spends weeks planning out her shopping spree for Black Friday.

“I even have a back-up plan for things that don’t work out,” she said.

“I got here at 9 p.m., which seems like it was about five hours too late.”

Nevertheless, she was in it for the 50-inch Toshiba television.

Across the street at Bass Pro Shops, where the doors were not to open until 5 a.m. on Friday, Ken Mitchell of Ponce de Leon claimed his spot in line at 7:30 Thursday evening.

“I’m always afraid they’ll run out of stuff,” Mitchell said, bundled up his lawn chair.

He was looking to buy a shotgun and maybe some clothes.

“I’ve always avoided this … I used to be smarter than this,” Mitchell said.

Joining him in line was Trevor Herman of Pennsylvania who was here visiting family.

“I’m here for the smoker,” he said, noting it was about half price.

“I don’t get the thrill … I’m here for the deal,” Herman said.

Midnight Madness and more at Outlets

The Silver Sands Premium Outlets parking lot was three-quarters of the way full by 9 p.m. Thanksgiving. Customers were waiting outside a number of stores that opened prior to Midnight Madness. Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, Saks Off Fifth, and Brooks Brothers opened at 9 or shortly thereafter.

By midnight, the stores and parking lots were jammed, and many customers had to park across Highway 98 and cross the busy road to get to the sales.

“We had to park at Whataburger and walk over,” said Lesley Gustafson, who braved the crowds for the sake of the family members on her Christmas list.

Stores stayed busy through 2 a.m., when traffic died off and the parking lot cleared out enough for clerks to take a breather before a bump in customers at 8:30 a.m.

—By Molly Mosher