Black Friday shoppers set up camp outside Best Buy store in Medford

Promised bargains and frenzied crowds drive shoppers' zeal
Miguel Ortiz, 14, first in line, stands near his tent in front of Best Buy Wednesday in Medford. Mail Tribune / Julia MooreJulai Moore

A small tent city of Black Friday shoppers cropped up beneath Best Buy's blue and yellow sign as early as lunchtime Tuesday, all hoping to score electronics at bargain-basement prices the moment doors open at midnight Thursday.

The crowd of stalwarts with caches of extra jackets, snacks and electronic distractions provided a show for passersby, some of whom snapped photos.

"It's like a drive-thru safari out here," said White City resident Andres Tavarez, 21, who camped at the store entrance with cousin Joseph Tavarez, 20, and friend Ryan Silva, 21, also of White City.

"People think we're kind of crazy. They drive by and take pictures of us, so I like to take out my camera and do it to them, too. I don't care, though. Last year we were 16th, and we barely got our TV. This year, we're eighth and ninth, so we cut our time in half even though we're waiting twice as long."

For those who had secured the lucky spots in the Black Friday line, the sideways glances and snickers rolled off their backs. The payoff, after all, would be electronic devices up to half off.

In his second year, Andres Tavarez said he had his sights set on a TV, laptop, cameras and various items for family members who had no qualms about capitalizing on his sidewalk campout.

"We actually came Monday night to see if anyone was here but there wasn't anyone, so we waited," he said.

"My mom told me there were a couple tents so we figured let's get down here fast."

Holding the sacred first spot in line, 14-year-old Miguel Ortiz of Medford had a long list of items he hoped to use to turn a profit, ranging from laptops and TVs to cameras and other gadgets.

"I was planning on coming Monday, but I didn't feel like staying an extra night," he said, zipping up his tent.

"My dad doesn't like me being out here by myself, but I wanted to do it. I did it last year and just got some stuff for myself. This year I plan to get a little bit of everything and sell it on Craigslist."

Neither the White City group nor Ortiz gave a second thought to missing turkey dinner with family.

Said Silva, "We put our money together last year and got some chicken for dinner at the Fred Meyer deli."

Ortiz said his family arranged holiday plans around his entrepreneurial efforts.

"My mom decided to change Thanksgiving to Friday so I could be there," he said with a smile.

"When I did this last year, they brought me Thanksgiving dinner."

Trail resident Frank Akers, second to pitch a tent at the store entrance, said his payoff for braving the cold would be Thanksgiving delivery and a happy spouse.

"Last year I sat around the corner and didn't get anything I wanted," Akers said.

"My wife will bring me dinner so I can stay out here and get her a TV and a camera. I don't know which camera, but my wife knows exactly what she wants and she has a list for me."

The Tavarez cousins and Silva acknowledged that the experience has turned into a bonding of sorts among bargain seekers.

For most, the wait was almost enjoyable. Campers had a stash of snacks to share and passed the time playing on laptops and cellphones, with the camaraderie an added bonus.

"It's fun to do this," said Andres Tavarez.

Nodding toward Silva, he added, "We actually met him when we were sitting out here last year."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.


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