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Stores, shoppers poised for Black Friday bargain rush

Plus: Tips on how to shop smarter on Black Friday
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The early shopper will be getting plenty of bargains again this Black Friday. For Auburn’s Robert McMicken, that will mean arriving at Best Buy around midnight on Friday with a folding chair and plans to be dressed warmly in preparation for a wait in line before the 5 a.m. opening. Best Buy stores are one of the nation’s signature Black Friday retailers and last year, the store in North Auburn had more than 500 shoppers waiting in line as doors opened. The bargains are tantalizing, with a Hewlett-Packard laptop selling for $197 and Garmin portable global positioning system units being offered at $99.99 at Best Buy. As is the case with most other stores, many Black Friday store specials are limited in number those who are queuing up early have the best opportunity to save. McMicken said his shopping list for Black Friday includes a Nintendo DS system, tabletop computers, a couple of laptops and Blu-Ray discs. “I was volunteered by my wife,” McMicken said. He added that he’s taken part in previous door-buster events to snap up rock-bottom price bargains. McMicken said other favorite stops include Target and Staples. Joana Brush, Best Buy store manager, said customers in line would be given tickets for the items they’re planning to buy. The tickets will be given out for stock on hand and provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Best Buy is handing out the tickets before the store opens for purchase of select products to ensure the safety of both staff and customers. At Auburn’s Target, the corporation is keeping the Black Friday sale items and prices tightly under wraps. Ed Cudmore, store executive team leader, said all the doorbusters will go online Thursday. Shoppers can expect electronics, appliances and toys to be offered at low prices. Last year, about 100 people were waiting in line for the Target Black Friday opening at 6 a.m. This year, the North Auburn store is opening an hour earlier, at 5 a.m. “Once they see the ad, we should see a large group,” Cudmore said. Lines have already started forming at Target – but for another reason. About a dozen people were waiting outside the Auburn store’s doors Wednesday morning on the chance that the wildly popular Zho Zho hamster-like toy would be in stock. Cudmore said there were none available at the store. While Target will open its doors and let customers rush in during its traditional door-buster sale, it will be handing out maps to show where the doorbusters are located, he said. Not everyone is enamored with the idea of an early morning trip to the store on the day after Turkey Day. “To me, it’s ridiculous,” said Target shopper Shirley McRoberts on Wednesday. “I know there are good bargains but to get up at 3 in the morning? No!” Many stores that will be open for regular hours on Black Friday are also anticipating an influx of shoppers. Home Depot in Auburn is keeping mum on its special Black Friday discounts. “But there are some smoking deals, especially on hardware and appliances,” assistant store manager Marty Henshaw said. Normal store hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. This will be the first Black Friday for Home Depot in Auburn, which opened last February. Henshaw said it’s important for customers to understand that the Black Friday bargains will be “while supplies last.” “Business could be probably 10 times as busy as a normal Friday,” Henshaw said. “If the grand opening last February is any indication, this is going to be big.” ------------------------------ Fast facts: Tips for successful Black Friday shopping -The cool look: Dress warmly if you’re going to wait early Friday in line. Temperatures are predicted by the National Weather Service to drop into the high 30s in Auburn. -Beat the heat: Wear layers so you can doff some of that outerwear into a store shopping cart and avoid roasting while you scoot around snapping up those values -Arrive early: Some people eat Thanksgiving dinner then start lining up as early as Thursday afternoon -Checklist a must: Make a list of what you want, including things like brand, model and color and ask store staff for help in finding it -Scout out: Visit the store in advance to get familiar with the layout and know where everything is Carpool with family and friends: Parking can be hard to find -Pack a snack: Little pick-me-ups can keep energy levels going at Black Friday speed -Top 10 list: Prioritize what you want the most -Keep smiling: In case you end up on local news coverage -Be patient: Keep cool, calm and collected. It’s holiday shopping season and crowds are huge -Have fun: Entertain yourself in line by bringing a portable gaming device or make friends with others in line Information: Bestbuy.com