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The long wait for Black Friday
Three nights out in the cold for a $199 flat screen TV
Customers looking to take advantage of Black Friday sales are already lined up in front of Best Buy. And some have even brought the comforts of home like televisions and Xbox 360 to help pass the time. Pictured playing Madden 12 are Joseph Vigil and Cameron Peay while Joe Howell looks on. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Cameron Peay already has a leg-up on the typical Black Friday shopping crowd.

Rather than waiting until Thanksgiving night to show up at Best Buy and hope that he secured a good spot, the Lathrop resident grabbed his tent, some blankets and comforters, a pillow and some warm clothes and staked his claim in front of the electronics megastore Monday night.

His goal? To secure a 42-inch flat screen television for $199 and possibly score a few extra goodies at the same time.

And he’s already digging the communal atmosphere with some of the other die-hard shoppers that he’s met since making 934 Perimeter Drive his temporary home.

“This is cool. I like it. I’m meeting all of these new people out here. I’ve only known this guy here for an hour and we’re already heck of close, so this is going to be fun,” Peay said. “I wasn’t even going to come down here but my little brother showed me the ad and I saw that it was a deal that I couldn’t pass up.”

Joseph Vigil, on the other hand, showed up on Tuesday after his girlfriend told him that she wanted a 42-inch TV for cheap. He looked around at some of the prices and it wasn’t until he saw what Best Buy was offering that he decided to make the commitment to spend 48 hours camped out on the cement.

But he wasn’t about to forego all of the comforts of home.

Tucked back in a corner just behind his tent sat a television, an Xbox 360 and a stack of games – all powered through an extension cord ran from a nearby outlet.

He, along with Peay, would be able to pass the time by playing Madden or Call of Duty or any number of games that would take their minds off of the time they have left to wait, or the constant cold.

“We’re going to make this a good time,” Vigil said. “I’m out here for that TV and some other things, and the people are making it pretty cool. I wasn’t going to come down, but I’m here now and I’m going to stick it out.”

While their group represents a growing number of consumers that take to the lines earlier to get the best deals, retailers are taking a page out of the same book.

This year Wal-Mart will start their Black Friday sales Thanksgiving night at 10 p.m. on certain things in the store, and offer up their deals on electronics at midnight. Best Buy, Macy’s and Target will all open their doors at midnight to draw in the early shopping customers and those that don’t mind staying up late on Thanksgiving night.

For Peay, staying in line for a few days won’t be a big deal when he’s watching the Black Friday news reports on his new television – even if it means braving the cold.

“There’s no getting around it – you just have to deal with it,” he said of the temperatures when the sun goes down. “Last night we were throwing the football around trying to stay warm. If that’s what you have to do that’s what you have to do. It’ll be worth it.”