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Mantecans plot their Black Friday strategy
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Karla Layden is looking forward to being one of the first people in line when the big-box retailers open their doors Friday morning.

It is, she says, the only time that it’s commonplace to enjoy shopping so much that you’re willing to stand in line for hours in the brutal cold – all in the name of scoring the best deals.

“We’re probably going to head to Best Buy this year. They’ve always got great buys for the Black Friday sales,” said Layden. “I know that there is going to be a big group of people out there, but we’ll just have to bundle up, bring hot chocolate, and get there before they do.

“This is something that our family takes very seriously.”

While the economic downturn has impacted Black Friday sales in recent years, early indications are that things are going to get somewhat back to normal this year when thousands of people descend on major retailers like Kohl’s, JC Penney’s, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and a host of others offering doorbuster prices on everything from flat-screen televisions to video games.

The Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto will open their stores when the clock tonight hits midnight – giving those who want the earliest jump possible on holiday shopping the chance to get their foot in the door the day the sales begin. Other retailers like Sears – whose K-Mart stores are open today and will open Friday morning at 5 a.m. – started pre-Black Friday sales to help get people into the mood of spending money during the holidays.

Other shoppers, like Manteca’s James Renfro, says that he wouldn’t join the crowds during a Black Friday rush even if he was guaranteed a flat-screen television for free.

“That’s just something that I’ve never been into,” said the 42-year-old Renfro. “I always complain about not getting enough sleep, so getting up on a day that I have off at 2 a.m. just to stand in line for four hours doesn’t seem all that appealing to me. My wife has done it, and had fun doing it, but there’s no way that you’re going to get me out there to something like that.”

Merchants, on the other hand, are ecstatic that people are gearing up for what has become a national obsession.

“We’ve got to be there around 2:30 a.m. to fill the orders that have come in the night before,” said Judy Sonke – who owns the Manteca Sears location with her husband Jerry. “Then we’ll go outside and figure out who got the first and make sure that those people get the first crack at the special discounts. It’s really a big event for us as a business, and it’s kind of fun to be there and chatting with people who go all out when it comes to their Christmas shopping. It’s a tradition for some people, and we’re grateful to have customers that want to shop at our store.”