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Campers arrive early for Black Friday frenzy

Published:   |   Updated: November 27, 2013 at 09:39 AM

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For the past three years, David Ingram has camped out at the Spring Hill Best Buy waiting for the big Black Friday sale.

This year, he set up his charcoal gray tent at 2 p.m. Sunday and plans to stay until the store starts its annual event at 6 p.m. Thursday.

His tent is decked out with a mini TV and video games. There are plenty of restaurants around where he can eat and use the bathroom.

"It's a vacation for me," said Ingram, 26, who lives in Hudson but prefers the Spring Hill electronics store site because it has an awning to ward off rain. "(I) wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't fun."

Ingram, who does tech support from his home, told his boss he would be taking three days off without pay. He will lose more money than he plans to save on two new televisions and game consoles. But he has too much fun being a concrete camper to mind, he joked.

Ingram said he is usually first in line at Best Buy but was beat out by a few hours this year by John Mohr of Spring Hill, who set up two tents to house his wife Tracy, son Ethan, 10, and daughter Isabella, 12. Cooper, the family beagle, is also roughing it this week with the family.

"They've got a TV that fits our needs and a laptop we want to get for the kids," Mohr said.

Mohr said the annual camp-out has turned into a family rite.

"It's become, like, a little family vacation for us," he said.

Best Buy store manager Bob Just said he hears that from many of the campers. Just helped supervise the arrival of about 30 pieces of steel barricades erected in front of the store Tuesday morning to keep campers and others in an orderly line.

Last year, about 500 people showed up for the Black Friday sale at the store off U.S. 19 and the line extended all the way to Petco.

Just said the store provides campers with electricity and tries to make them feel at home.

"We take care of our customers," he said.

Sgt. John McMurdo, with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, said there will be an increased patrol presence - including the equestrian unit - in shopping centers in Hernando County starting Thursday and continuing through the holiday season.

McMurdo said there will also be portable message boards erected along State Road 50 and U.S. 19 with safety tips, warning shoppers to lock car doors while shopping and keep presents hidden in vehicles to deter robberies.

"We want to remind everyone to just slow down and use a little more caution," McMurdo said. "The roads are going to be crowded."

Black Friday is somewhat of a misnomer these days because so many stores start their annual shopping blitz the day before. So people who sit down to their turkey or ham buffet Thursday may want to finish up the dessert portion quickly to reach the stores in time to usher in the official start of the Christmas retail season.

When out shopping, some people may encounter the Beach Bum, a local disc jockey who plans to attend many of the Black Friday openings in and around Hernando County and the Nature Coast.

He kicks things off from 4-8 p.m. Thursday at the Spring Hill Target while another DJ will be at the Sears at Coastal Way Shopping Center in Brooksville.

(352) 544-5290

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