Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Early birds already camping out for Black Friday bargains

Lorie Davenport, 43, of St. Petersburg set up camp outside the Tyrone-area Best Buy nine days before Black Friday, determined to be first in line for the sale. She rotates shifts with friends and spends time online, doing crossword puzzles and napping.


Lorie Davenport, 43, of St. Petersburg set up camp outside the Tyrone-area Best Buy nine days before Black Friday, determined to be first in line for the sale. She rotates shifts with friends and spends time online, doing crossword puzzles and napping.

ST. PETERSBURG — Lorie Davenport really wanted to be first.

Related News/Archive

So much so that she set up camp in front of a Best Buy store a full nine days before Black Friday.

That put her at the head of a line of bargain hunters expected to curl around the building by Thanksgiving night. Davenport, who lives 2 miles from the Tyrone-area store, is also holding a spot for her husband, daughter, other family members and three friends. And that's not counting Isis, her chihuahua Pomeranian.

Sitting in a beach chair outside a tent sporting a Florida Gators logo Thursday, Davenport, 43, reveled at her prized spot.

"This is our sixth year," she said. "Usually we come six or seven days ahead and we've never been first. We just have a hooting time."

Friends and family think they're crazy. Passers-by launch into you-wouldn't-believe-it phone calls. They gawk. They honk. Some whip out cell phones to snap pictures. Others stop to talk.

"We get just as much of a kick out of it," said Tina Thain, 42, who takes the night shift with her husband, Dennis, 48. "It's like going to a people zoo. You're sitting there having a conversation on the sidewalk and people are driving by and thinking you're crazy. It's really no different from sitting on the front porch."

The tradition began with Davenport's daughter, Amanda Linton, and Thain's daughter, Amber. That first year, the best friends from Boca Ciega High School wanted MP3 players and begged their mothers to let them hang out outside Best Buy to snag bargains.

"We wanted to go by ourselves," recalled Linton, now 22 and the mother of 3-month-old Madison.

"Of course, Lorie and I decided that we weren't going to let two 16-17-year-old girls go stand out on the sidewalk three to four days by themselves," Thain said. "We had a really small tent. We were definitely not prepared. It got cold. I had zero sleep."

Now veterans, the small party — minus Amber, who is in the Navy — is outfitted with a large tent, blankets, pillows, coolers and fold-up chairs under a canopy.

Davenport, who takes the day shift, said she spends the time surfing the internet on her smart phone, texting and updating her status on Facebook for family in Michigan. She's eagerly awaiting the newspaper ad to see the specifics of what will be on sale.

Thanksgiving is covered, she said.

She and husband Ryan, 39, a postal worker, will celebrate with family. They will deliver hot dishes to the Thains, Indiana natives with no relatives nearby, who are content to spend the day outside Best Buy.

"Last year, one of my staff members, he brought us dessert," said Thain, a supervisor at Macy's credit and customer services in Clearwater. "They all think I'm crazy, too, but they get a kick out of it."

Store manager Drew Newman said much of the preparation for Black Friday will take place the day before Thanksgiving. Employees will arrive at 2 a.m. on Friday and the doors will open at 5. At about 3 or 4 a.m., they will start handing out tickets for the big items, he said.

Thain said she and her husband hope to buy a speaker system for the wide-screen TV they snagged last year. A Blu-ray DVD player is also on their list. The Davenports are hoping for an iMac, Blu-ray player and movies. Ryan Davenport confided that he'd also like a bigger television in the realm of 55 inches.

"Last year, we spent over $3,000, but we saved $3,000 to $4,000 as well," his wife said.

"Usually I'm home by 10 o'clock. Then I go home and I sleep. It usually takes me a day and a half to recover from this week. … We might retire it after this year. I'm a nana now," the first-time grandmother said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

Early birds already camping out for Black Friday bargains 11/18/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 19, 2010 7:44am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America


    Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach."

     Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach," ranked Siesta Beach in Sarasota as the No. 1 beach in America.
[TImes file photo]
  2. Tattooed 'Joker' accused of pointing gun at Miami traffic

    Bizarre News

    MIAMI — Police in Miami-Dade County have managed to arrest the Joker without Batman's help following reports of a green-haired man with tattoos on his face pointing a gun at traffic.

    This photo provided by the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department shows Lawrence Sullivan, who was arrested in Miami-Dade County, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, and charged with carrying a concealed firearm. Police say the self-described "tattoo model" was pointing a gun at moving vehicles. [Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department via AP]
  3. Deputies: Two men, teen intentionally set fire, left it to burn within Weedon Island Preserve


    ST. PETERSBURG –– Two men and a teen face charges after deputies say they deliberately started a fire within Weedon Island Preserve last month.

    Adam Grote, 19, left, and Brandon Kholos, 20, along with a 17-year-old, face charges after deputies say they intentionally started a fire on April 15, 2017, that burned about six acres on Googe Island within Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Police chief: Manchester searches turn up valuable info in concert bombing


    MANCHESTER, England — Home searches across Manchester have uncovered important items for the investigation into the concert bombing that left 22 people dead, Manchester's police chief announced Thursday, while other British authorities complained bitterly about information leaks blamed on U.S. officials.

    A police officer at the scene at an address in Nuneaton, England Thursday May 25, 2017 where they arrested a seventh suspect in the investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing. British police have arrested a seventh person in connection with the Manchester Arena bombing. The man was held Wednesday after police carried out searches in the English town of Nuneaton, which is about 161 kilometers (100 miles) south of Manchester. [Joe Giddens | PA via AP]
  5. Joe Henderson: Only unanimous jury vote justifies extreme act of execution


    A ruling last week by the U.S. Supreme Court on Florida's death penalty law didn't generate a lot of chatter, but don't let that fool you.

    A jury recommended execution for Dontae Morris of Tampa by a 10-2 vote in one of his murder trials. The recommendation was unanimous when he was tried in the shooting deaths of two Tampa police officers.