BANGOR, Maine — For the throngs of Black Friday shoppers, it’s all about strategy, big-ticket items and tradition.
At the front of the line outside Best Buy in Bangor, the first people in line said they showed up at 7 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, set up their chairs and waited. The group immediately behind them, however, didn’t show up until 4 p.m.
Chris Smith, 26, of Worcester, Massachusetts, was in town visiting his father and decided to get some shopping done while he was here.
“I’m going to try to go for the big ticket, probably the TV first,” Smith said.
One of the more popular deals of the day for the early shoppers was a 49-inch Toshiba television for $150, down from a $499 retail price.
Many people in line ordered pizzas to be delivered around dinner time, some sharing with others in waiting. Smith said he passed his eight hours waiting on his phone and by chatting with his neighbors in line.
Why all this waiting when other deals will be available online later, especially on Cyber Monday? Some shoppers said they felt better bargains were available in person, while others have just come to enjoy the experience.
“Well, that takes the fun out of it,” Wesley Bearce, 18, of Lincoln said when asked why he didn’t just shop online instead of wait in line for hours.
More than 400 other shoppers queued by opening time. Many were lightly dressed, as the temperature was mercifully, unusually warm for late November, hovering just under 50 degrees.
Just minutes before the Best Buy doors opened at 12:01 a.m., Michelle and Rose West, sisters from Halifax, Nova Scotia, walked to the back of the line. They had just completed a 7½-hour drive to get to Bangor, and planned on stopping at several stores over the next 48 hours.
Michelle West had her eyes on a $300 Apple watch, much cheaper than any deal she’d found in Canada.
“We just don’t see these kinds of big sales up there,” she said.
Maine law requires that any store over 5,000 square feet must be closed Thanksgiving day, meaning big-box retailers can’t open before the stroke of midnight Black Friday. Retailers in other parts of the country have taken to opening their doors Thanksgiving night.
Stores in downtown Bangor are countering with deals of their own on Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday in an effort to draw shoppers away from the malls and big-box stores.
For example, Epic Sports is offering 25 percent off winter gear and apparel, and restaurants are offering lunch deals, coffee and cider to fuel weary shoppers.
More details about both of those events are available on Facebook.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.