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To get best buy takes patience--and a tent

November 21, 2012 12:10 am


Cindy Hataway (left) and son-in-law Justin Gamble check out the tent set up by Davis and Jorden. lo1121BestBuycampPC1.jpg

Jorden Shelton, 15, is camping out at Best Buy with family friend Patrick Davis, awaiting Black Friday. lo1121BestBuycampPC3.jpg

Pat Davis and Jorden Shelton have been camping out outside the Best Buy store at Central Park since 5 p.m. Monday to be the first shoppers in line on Black Friday.


Patrick Davis likes to be the first in line at Best Buy on Black Friday.

To score that spot this year, he pitched a four-person tent in front of the Central Park store at 4:30 p.m. Monday and plugged in his Honda generator.

This is the fourth straight year that Davis, a self-employed business owner, and his adopted family, the Sheltons, have claimed the head of the line at the Fredericksburg Best Buy.

"People ask if I'm really here for Black Friday and tell me, 'You're crazy,'" he said.

Crazy about deals, perhaps. Davis and the Sheltons say they saved almost $1,500 on Black Friday last year by snapping up door-buster bargains. These included a 48-inch flat-screen TV for $179 that was an early Christmas gift for the Sheltons' son, Justin, who is currently stationed in Afghanistan.

"My big thing is saving money on big-ticket items," said Sharon Shelton, who does the books for Davis' Patsco Mobile Locksmithing and for his stints as an independent cab driver. "I'm not going to get [these prices] any other time of the year. They'll only have four or five of that item. If you're not first in the door, you'll have to buy them at the next higher price."

Camping out in front of Best Buy is a tradition for Davis and the Sheltons. It started about 10 years ago when she got up before dawn on Black Friday to snap up some deep discounts at the electronics store.

The line was wrapped around the building by the time she got there, and the earliest arrivals already had been handed the limited number of tickets for the deals on her list.

Shelton asked people standing at the front of the line for the secret to their success, and was told that they'd camped out in front of the store the night before.

The next year she decided to camp out as well, and her son and some of his football-team buddies at James Monroe High School kept her company.

"The kids loved it," Sharon Shelton said. "They got to stay up late and sleep in a tent in Central Park. They thought it was a lot of fun."

The sidewalk in front of Best Buy typically sprouts a number of tents in the days leading up to Black Friday. Most are regulars who look out for each other and enjoy joking about which place they've scored in line, she said.

This year, Shelton decided Davis and her other son, Jorden, a ninth-grader at James Monroe, needed to get there even earlier than usual because she'd heard that lines had started forming last Friday at some Best Buy and Walmart stores in other states.

Jorden will likely spend part of the time while they wait playing video games and watching TV inside Best Buy, and Shelton will bring her son and Davis Thanksgiving dinner before joining them Thursday evening to wait for Best Buy's midnight opening.

"We like Best Buy because they're so organized," she said. "You get in line, get a ticket, and you go in and pay for it and leave. People aren't stomping on each other."

Shelton said having stores open earlier on Black Friday this year is nice because she can go home after getting the items on her list, and not have to take her nearly 80-year-old mother shopping until 8 a.m.

By then, she said, "Everyone will be done with all the nuttiness."

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

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