AUBURN – Seth Chabot of Buckfield was first in line to get into Best Buy for the 5 a.m. opening Friday. At 4:45, he had been there for 12 hours, waiting to get one of the Sony laptops on sale for $399, more than half off.

Braving the cold with blankets and hand and foot warmers, he was one of thousands who hit local stores looking for Black Friday bargains.

Store managers reported that electronics – computers, television sets, global-positioning satellites and video games – were the big sellers.

Lines outside and in were the norm at the stores that opened early, beginning with Kohl’s and JCPenney at 4 a.m.

At Wal-Mart, which opened at 5 a.m., lines went back as far as Burger King on the far side of the parking lot, said store manager Dale Brann. “So far it’s a great turnout,” he said as shoppers pushed out loaded carts.

Like other retailers, Wal-Mart encouraged shoppers to scope out merchandise online on Thanksgiving Day. “That created a lot of excitement,” Brann said.

Nationally, experts predicted higher fuel costs would mean less Christmas spending this year, but that was not the case locally.

Shoppers said they were spending about the same as last year, but hoping to get more by hitting stores during promotional sales. On Friday, they arrived at stores in festive moods, with sales fliers in hand.

At Wal-Mart, Susan Fortier of Lewiston shopped with her mother, Gill Desmarrais of Lisbon. Fortier got up at 1:30 a.m. to get her husband a GPS.

“I haven’t done this since the Cabbage Patch days in the ’80s,” she said.

At Best Buy, Chabot wasn’t the only one who spent the night in the cold.

Kelli Hebert said she arrived at 11:30 p.m. the night before. Her husband arrived at 4:45 that afternoon. The two took turns standing in line.

“We always do Black Friday. It’s just fun, and kicks off the Christmas season,” she said, bundled in ski pants and a winter jacket. Her goal was to get a laptop at a bargain price.

Twenty minutes after the store opened, checkout lines were long, winding through aisles making it difficult to find the end. That’s where staffer Justin Wyman of Stratton came in: His job was to hold a bright bunch of balloons. “I’m actually an auto tech, but today I’m the end of the line,” he said.

At the electronics store, where male shoppers seemed to outnumber females, some were at the cash registers within two minutes of the opening.

After paying for his items, Chabot’s arms were full. Spending the night in line was worth it, he said.

“I got every single thing I wanted.”


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