Hundreds wait outside Eastgate store for Black Friday kickoff

UNION TWP., Ohio - In spite of Thanksgiving's unrelenting rain and then Fridaymorning's below freezing chill, thousands of Tri-State residentsmade it out of the house to start their Christmas shopping on whatretailers refer to as "Black Friday". That's when many say theirbooks are finally going from red(losses) to black(profits) thanksto the start of the Christmas shopping season.

As early as 3 a.m. Friday morning, stores like Kohl's onHarrison Avenue off I-74 opened to anxious shoppers. Clothing andhome accessories haven't been big sellers in recent Christmasshopping seasons, but that may change based on how many peoplewaited until Kohl's opened its doors.

At the Eastgate Best Buy store, the line was down the front ofthe store and around the corner by 4 a.m. Friday morning, an hourbefore the store was officially to open.

Hundreds had taken their place in line, including some in tentsand sleeping bags that started out waiting for computers, TVs andother electronics specials as early as Wednesday.

The good news is that most of those earliest of early bird BlackFriday shoppers appeared to get what they came for. Best Buypersonnel were out a half hour before the 5 a.m. opening to handout tickets/fliers to people who were waiting for particularlimited sale 'door buster' items like an HP laptop computer for$499 or 42-inch plasma high-definition TVs for $369.

In addition to having Union Township Police stationed at thestore, Best Buy also let only several dozen people in the store ata time for the first half hour. That was to make sure there wouldbe no mad rush on particular items and to make sure store personnelcould handle all the shoppers in the store at once.

By 6 a.m., the waiting line was completely gone. All theshoppers were inside the store looking through items or standing incheck-out lines, which were all open Friday morning.

Kim Strange headed up one entire family of Black Friday shopperswho stopped by the Best Buy store. She and a half dozen of herfamily say they turn Black Friday shopping into a sport. In fact,they all were wearing specially made t-shirts underneath theircoats that touted their Black Friday shopping prowess: Shop or gohome was the theme of the shirts.

Strange says she found shopping from 10 p.m. Thanksgivingthrough Friday morning enjoyable. Without revealing what gifts shehad bought, she told 9 News that she had found just abouteverything she was looking for, but wasn't through yet even aftershopping for eight straight hours.

However, it should be said that by 5:45 a.m. we saw as manypeople walking out with nothing in their hands as those carting bigscreen televisions to their cars or carrying bags of newly boughtelectronics.

The question now: Will the frenzy of shopping at this Best Buyand throughout the Tri-State this Friday signal a better thanexpected Christmas shopping season for 2010?

Some analysts say retail Christmas sales could increase thisyear for the first time since 2006. Others say they suspect thatwhile more people will spend serious money this Christmas, manyfamilies are still trying to be frugal about purchases and mayactually spend less than they did last year.

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