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Shoppers Brave the Elements for Black Friday Deals

Flat screen TVs, computers and game consoles top the list of items coveted by Best Buy campers.

Neither rain, nor heat nor cries of “you’re loony” will stop Black Friday shoppers from getting the deals they want.

That was the theme at Best Buy in Clearwater on Wednesday, as dozens of people in tents lined the sidewalk in front of the electronics retailer in advance of the biggest single shopping day of the year. 

Even weather fluctuating between 80-degree heat all week and showers on Wednesday didn’t dampen the spirits of diehard deal finders, some of whom had almost noble reasons for doing what they were doing.

“My wife is nine months pregnant and she needs a TV for the bedroom, so I’m here for the $199 42” flat screen deal,” said Clearwater resident and Black Friday rookie Dan Knauss.

Knauss is also out to grab a PlayStation 3 game console for the children of a friend who recently passed away. His intentions make his sacrifice all the more tolerable.

“I’d much rather be with my family than sitting outside a store, but my wife understands why I’m doing it. I just hope she doesn’t have the baby while I’m here!” 

But Knauss, who began camping out last night, will barely have time to miss the comforts of home in comparison to Tracy Hegwood.

The 52-year-old military member was the first in line at the chain's  when she set up her tent last Friday afternoon, nearly a full week before the Black Friday festivities were set to begin.

Like Knauss, Hegwood is a novice when it comes to the day after Thanksgiving shopping craze, but she was also willing to do it for her family.

“I’ve never done this before, but my son and daughter-in-law wanted the flat screen TV and the Canon printer/scanner for $25,” the Holiday resident said through raindrops Wednesday afternoon.

“They have three kids so I’ve been camping out for them. My daughter-in-law relieves me in the morning so I can go home and shower and rest for a while.”

Hegwood’s daughter-in-law, Holly Beeson, is a Black Friday veteran who is thrilled her mother-in-law decided to get in on the action this year.

“I’ve been doing this for six years. I actually opened a Black Friday bank account to save up for this day,” Beeson admitted. “She (Tracy) got the excitement of it from me, and I’m glad she decided to do it this year.” 

Asked what the reaction has been to her Black Friday ritual, Beeson said she’s heard it all.

“People stop by and say, “we’ve got guts” or “we’re just loony”. But with three kids and other family members to buy for, I’ll do anything to save a dollar.” 

As for the officials at Best Buy, they are fully supportive of their fanatical shoppers.

"I love them," Customer Solutions Manager Drew Tharaldson said of the campers. "It's a tradition that started years ago, and it's pretty cool."

"We give them vouchers for the items they want, so they know they're going to get what they lined up for," Tharaldson said. "They're first in line for a reason, so they should get what they want."

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