By Erika Wurst Ewurst@stmedianetwork.com November 24, 2011 10:22PM
Updated: November 22, 2012 10:14PM
Alarm clocks all across the Fox Valley will buzz early Friday morning as thousands of shoppers trade some shut-eye for super sales.
Cars will flood the streets around midnight and presumably into the wee morning hours. But for some, the quest for the best bargains began long before any Thanksgiving turkey was served.
It was Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. when Aurora resident Pamela Williams secured her spot in line at Best Buy’s Aurora location.
“We stopped at (Best Buy in) Oswego first, but there was already a line,” she said. Making a beeline toward Aurora proved to be the best move Williams made all day.
On Thursday evening, just seven hours shy of when the glass doors would open, Williams smiled giddily from her spot at the head of the line. Behind those doors, she said, were big bargains, and worth every hour spent bearing the bitter weather.
“It’s my first year being No. 1,” Spratt said. “It feels good.”
Williams’ spot assures her that a 42-inch flat screen TV will be hers for the taking at just $199 — a savings of nearly $300. It was the same deal that drove dozens of super savers away from the kitchen table and into long lines.
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Twin sisters Lorina Quintanilla and Corina Reyna were bundled up in chairs as they claimed the second spot in line. The two arrived just seconds after the Williams crew.
“We’ve been playing football, and bags,” said Quintanilla, of Aurora. She and her sister even made a getaway to Golden Corral, where they enjoyed a turkey feast.
Others dined on Dunkin’ Donuts, White Castle and McDonald’s instead of mashed potatoes and gravy. They took turns warming up in cars, using the port-o-potty, and making fast-food runs. The rules for reclaiming one’s spot in line, however, remained a topic of controversy throughout the day.
Aurora resident Ruben Bonilla showed up with his friends at the Best Buy location around 7 a.m. Thursday morning. When pies were freshly baking in ovens, and cheese plates were set out on dining room tables, Bonilla was baring the cold. So, he was disgruntled, to say the least, when he saw a man slide into an empty chair around 5 p.m.
“This is the first time we’ve seen him all day,” Bonilla said. “I’ve been freezing since 7 a.m. when all I had to do was sit down a chair and go home.
“I hope you enjoyed the (football) game, dude,” he said confronting the man.
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Bonilla’s wasn’t the first bout of confrontation that boiled up among those in line.
The police were called around 2:15 p.m. Thursday to break up an argument among customers concerning spots in line. No one was charged, but the incident proved to be a headache for some.
“This is my first time shopping on Black Friday, and I’m not doing it again,” Bonilla said. “Too much waiting, and too many crazy people.”
If you ask Aurora husband and father Angel Santana, the drama-filled wait is worth the payoff. Santana arrived in line at Best Buy around 3 p.m. Wednesday and was accompanied by his children and wife.
“Our son wanted to spend the night with his dad,” Crystal Santana said. “I let him fall asleep and picked him up around 11 p.m. so he could sleep at home. He was so upset when he woke up in the morning and he wasn’t in a tent.”
The boy’s father was less enthusiastic about his campout but decided that his patience would be worth the pay off.
“I’m going to buy two TVs, so I’m getting paid about $600 to wait in this line,” Angel Santana said. “In my mind, it’s worth it.”
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While there was little holiday cheer among Best Buy shoppers, down the street and Michael’s crafts, the spirit of the season was coming to life through one store employee.
“I love (working on Thanksgiving),” she said while switching out price tags on holiday decoration displays. “It gets me in the spirit. It’s that time of year finally.”
A line of shoppers waited outside the craft store in anticipation of its 4 p.m. opening. This was nothing new to employees who see it happen every year.
“It gives people something to do after an early meal, and leaves the boys to watch football in peace,” the Michael’s associate said. She, like many Thanksgiving Day shoppers and retail employees, gave up her turkey dinner for something more practical.
“I had to be to work at 2 p.m., so I just ate McDonald’s chicken,” she said.