AUBURN — There's early, and there's Michael Charest.
The Auburn man plunked his chair in front of Best Buy at 10 p.m. Wednesday, watching workers stock shelves and turn out the lights for the night. He watched the sun come up. He watched the sun go down. And there he still sat, waiting for 12:01 a.m. on Black Friday.
He was after a 42-inch, flat-screen TV more than half off. A gift to himself.
"I think I nodded off for 20 minutes to a half-hour," Charest said Thursday. "I'm going 24 to 30 hours with no sleep. My brother saved me a Thanksgiving meal. I can eat tomorrow."
His sister-in-law, Carolee Charest of Auburn, had joined him in front of the store at 1 a.m. At 4 p.m., she was sipping hot chocolate, her first drink since getting in line. She hadn't wanted to worry about bathroom breaks.
"I do this every year," she said. "I'm usually at Kohl's."
They were in good company, celebrating Thanksgiving in lawn chairs perched on pavement, fighting back a brisk chill, anxious for big deals. Lines had formed in front of Best Buy and Walmart by midafternoon.
Carl Laliberte of Leeds arrived at Walmart at 10:30 a.m., a little earlier, he conceded, than he had to. He thought the doors were set to open at 10 p.m., not midnight.
"My daughter relieved me for an hour and a half to go have Thanksgiving dinner," he said.
Laliberte said he'd printed out the sales circular days before. He had the store map memorized. He was after electronics for others and jeans, if they had his size.
"It's a sacrifice by being here so you can make other people's wishes come true," Laliberte said.
Celia Yates of Lewiston, second in line, arrived at 1:30 p.m.
"I'm getting a computer for my grandkids so we can Skype," she said. They're 3 and 4 and live in Fort Riley, Kan. "That way, I get to watch them grow up."
Some would-be shoppers wore sleeping bags. Some clutched coffee. Frank Demers of Auburn, sixth in line at Walmart, realized his rookie mistake: "I don't have the map; no gloves, no chair. This is my first Black Friday."
He planned a quick trip home with his brother holding his spot.
About 20th in line at Best Buy, Krissy Berg of New Gloucester pitched a deer blind, a narrow, camouflage-covered tent.
"We have hand-warmers, foot-warmers, Wi-Fi," she said. "We didn't want to be bored."
Joseph Hutchins of Oxford, third in line, had only one gripe: No outhouses. Last year, he said, Best Buy set one up in the parking lot. He got in line with his son at 8 a.m., waiting to shop for a TV and an iPod.
"I've been doing Black Friday since Walmart was on the opposite side of the street," Hutchins said.
Charest was out for the first time for Black Friday sales. He'd made a few Starbucks runs for coffee and sat in his truck every so often to warm up. He killed time shopping online with his phone to go after other bargains.
"I love doing this," he said. "It's almost over; we're home-stretch right now."
Less than eight hours to go.