Make us your home page
Instagram

Camping out for Black Friday has become tradition for some

John Urso and Leo Tarver, both 14, play with laptops and video games in their tent outside Best Buy in Tampa on Tuesday.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

John Urso and Leo Tarver, both 14, play with laptops and video games in their tent outside Best Buy in Tampa on Tuesday.

TAMPA — A dozen Black Friday shoppers lay in wait, kicked back in multicolored lawn chairs and sprawled out on air mattresses outside the electronics store.

They have been there for the better part of a week, but these committed customers are hardly roughing it.

Some watch flat-screen television inside their tent. Some play video games or listen to music on state-of-the-art headphones. One man conducts his technical support business straight out of his tent on a laptop computer.

For most, camping on the concrete outside a Best Buy has become as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey and pumpkin pie.

"It's awesome being out here," said Ray Solomon, 30, who is camping outside Best Buy, 1725 N Dale Mabry Highway, for his eighth consecutive year. "I know all these guys because we've all done it before. I see them every year. It's like our own little community."

Solomon, who set up a tent built for 12 people, is camping with two friends. They share the space with his flat-screen television, surround-sound system and video game console — relics of Black Fridays passed.

His friends go to work during the day while Solomon, who runs his business from his laptop, minds the tent.

With a 24-hour Walmart and McDonald's just steps away, the campers don't want for much.

Jared Freedland, 21, isn't as seasoned as some of the other campers. But as he spoke excitedly about the laptop and television he would save hundreds on at week's end, it was clear: Freedland is hooked.

"It's like a tradition thing," said Freedland, a University of South Florida student. "It's fun."

Freedland's mother, Barbara Freedland, didn't agree. She stopped by Tuesday to see how her son and campmate Rick Hilton were faring.

"I think this is so stupid," she said, eyeing her son's dirt-caked flip-flops. "It's disgusting."

But it's catching on.

Across the bay, a group of teens were starting their own tradition outside a Best Buy on 22nd Avenue N in St. Petersburg.

Sammy Xaypharath, 16, Thomas Thanthima, 14, and two other friends have been taking turns living on the sidewalk since Saturday.

The St. Petersburg High students stash food and other supplies in a small tent. It's less comfortable here: A store employee offered to let them use a bigger tent to sleep in. They call their worrying parents constantly and fend off daily taunts from customers.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely, Xaypharath said.

"I don't want to wait in line," he said. "We want to make sure we are first."

Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386 or on Twitter @Marissa_Jae.

Camping out for Black Friday has become tradition for some 11/20/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  2. Rick Scott appoints longtime ally Jimmy Patronis as Florida CFO

    State Roundup
    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  5. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.

    Corporate

    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.