Shopping Loca: Black Friday on the Monterey Peninsula
November 23, 2012
Daniel Vazquez is a veteran of Black Friday shopping. For the last 10 years, the Seaside resident has camped out nights before the biggest shopping day of the year to get great deals on electronics.
On Thursday evening, he had only three hours longer to wait until midnight when Best Buy opened. Some member of the Vazquez family had held their spot at the front of the line since 5am on Wednesday morning.
“It’s worth it,” he says with a laugh. This year Vazquez was looking to get a 40-inch Toshiba flat screen television for under $180. “It’s the only time of the year for a good deal.”
While he was also waiting to get a laptop, Vazquez admits the best computer deal he got was five years at Best Buy in San Jose. He walked out with a laptop and a desktop computer—complete with monitor and printer—for under $500.
About 70 people past Vasquez, a woman from San Jose drove down after her Thanksgiving dinner. She arrived at 6pm and was waiting for the same television deal.
“We got a 40-inch last year for $300 and we want a second one for the family room,” she says. “When times are tough, you have to try and save money and look for a deal.”
An hour before, Wal-Mart in Marina started its Black Friday deals.
Although the store is open all day, sales associates started lines inside for the heavily-discounted large televisions and Blu-Ray players customers were waiting for.
“We are trying to get away the hard opening in attempt to prevent customers being trampled,” says a manager named Scott who asked not to print his last name.
As they entered the store, customers were handed a map outlining where the biggest sales were. Each aisle with an item was marked with a gold balloon that rose high over the aisle.
Inside, shopping carts were flipped over and wrapped crudely with caution tape to cordon off the items before they were available for purchase at 10pm. Customers received a ticket for the item and have to wait in line. It was first come first serve.
One Marina resident was waiting for a 51-inch Samsung flat screen. It was less than $500.
“I’m tired of my boyfriend and his friends playing video games all the time,” she says. “He has been scoping out this particular television for weeks. All I want to do is watch The Walking Dead!”
The earliest customers walked out of the store around 8:20pm with full carts. Cynthia Hyatt of Salinas had 13 folding kid’s scooter for $13 each and a pile of Barbies. It was all to donate to the Salinas Fire Department for a charity drive.
A dad wheeled out three kid’s bikes as he led his wife who had a cart full of toys.
“We have triplets, so we have to get good deals on things for them,” he says. “The time was worth the saving.”
A Marina man was waiting outside. It was too hectic inside for him.
“I’m waiting for my wife and my credit card!” he said.
As Scott helped his employees direct people to registers and to discounted items, he commented that so far, the night had been going very smoothly. Customers—and employees—were both being well-behaved.
When asked about massive employee walk-outs across the country to protest low wages, Scott says management had talked with sales associates.
“We inform our associates that it is ultimately their choice,” he says. “We tell them we are here if they need to come talk to us.”