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Kristen Daum, Published November 28 2009

BRRRR TO BLUR: Bundled-up shoppers line up early before racing to grab best deals

It’s almost like an emergency room triage: Determine what’s most important, get to it and move on to the next item on the list.

That’s the mentality of many shoppers annually on Black Friday, and they take on a variety of techniques to make their shopping excursions successful.

For some, it’s standing in line hours – and sometimes days – in advance of stores’ opening on the day after Thanksgiving. Others use tricks like walkie-talkie communication to cover more distance during the early rush of stores.

Through traffic, crowds and long lines, early-morning shoppers Friday were after those big deals that come on one of America’s busiest shopping days of the year.

With high-value electronic items being some of the most popular items first off the shelves, LaRayne Longtine of Fargo arrived at Office Depot around midnight Thursday to secure her chances at purchasing a $299 laptop.

“It’s our first time being first in line, but we have a little tradition of Black Friday shopping,” Longtine said, as she was bundled in layers of blankets in the 30-degree weather around 5 a.m.

Longtine said her Black Friday secret is to plan ahead, map out locations and “get there early, and try to keep everybody else at bay. They kind of sneak up on you.”

The doors at West Acres shopping center opened to patrons at 2:30 a.m. in advance of the first stores opening a half-hour later.

Winnipeg residents Jacquie Johnson-Weight and Susan Johnson were among those staked out in front of Bath & Body Works by 2:45 a.m.

“We don’t have Bath & Body Works in Winnipeg, so I think 90 percent of the clientele were Canadians,” Johnson-Weight said. “It’s very well-known back home, so everybody gives you their lists and you buy for them. … It’s crazy but it’s fun.”

The sisters teamed up with other family members throughout West Acres to maximize their shopping experience Friday morning.

“We have someone in line and we both have walkie-talkies, and then one person shops and the other person comes. We keep switching off,” Johnson said. “Good deals everywhere, it’s so worth it.”

Other shoppers said they scrutinized newspaper ads and Web sites to find the best deals – but not every shopper gets the item they’re after.

West Fargo resident Carol Morales said she came to Sears early Friday with plans to buy a TV – but missed out on the deal because she was placed in the wrong line.

“It is chaos,” Morales said. “You have to have your eyes wide open.”

Black Friday can be the busiest day for foot traffic in West Acres, West Acres Marketing Director Tracy Clow told WDAY Radio.

But it’s not necessarily the busiest sales day – which traditionally comes the weekend before Christmas, Clow said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541