Black Friday in Bel Air

Friends Jennifer Piper, left, and Lauren Alampi begin to unload their carts after taking advantage of the deals late Thursday night at the Toys 'R' Us store in Bel Air. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Patuxent Homestead / November 25, 2011)

From the Toys 'R' Us line that stretched to Barnes and Noble on Marketplace Drive, to the campers at Best Buy at the Harford Mall Annex, this year's Black Friday shoppers in Bel Air were as dedicated as ever, lining up Thursday well before some of the bigger stores opened between 9 p.m. and midnight.

The men of the Tangri family, Vidur, James and Mukesh, started their Thursday just after midnight outside of Best Buy, 24 hours before the store was scheduled to open. Although their day started in a tent, by 9 p.m Thanksgiving, the tent was packed and they were ready to start their first Black Friday shopping frenzy.

"It was good," Vidur Tangri said. "It was awesome [and a] good experience."

They couldn't have made it, however, without their self-proclaimed assistants, Neelam and Swati Tangri. The women came to Best Buy every two hours, bringing food and drinks.


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Missing the Baltimore Ravens game, the team's first on Thanksgiving, was not a problem for the group, who were streaming it live on a tablet computer.

Watching with them was Robert Whetzel, who set up camp, in his case a bed of blankets, at 1 a.m.

Like the Tangri family, Whetzel was there for the TV and Blu-ray player, among other electronics.

He wasn't planning on coming out so early, Whetzel said, but then he reconsidered.

"I saw their tent and got scared," he said of the Tangri family. He, too, had a tent originally, brought by a friend who forgot to bring the poles. Whetzel joked that through the night he thought he might lose a toe to the cold, but it was worth it.

Missing Thanksgiving dinner wasn't a big deal for him, as he had two separate friends bring him leftovers.

"It was a trade-off, but the TV is a really good deal," he said.

If he got all the items he wanted, Whetzel said he planned on spending about $3,000 total. Justin Rawls, who stood near the back of the line, which was around the block and stretched to the post office, was only planning to spend $200 on a Samsung home theater system.

This was his first year lining up for Black Friday bargains, Rawls said, and the second for his brother, Terry Rawls. The shopping was "somewhat planned," Justin Rawls said, and if he couldn't get the home theater system at Best Buy, he planned on going to Walmart or Target.

The women at the front of the Toys 'R' Us line didn't start their day quite as early. Stephanie Gregory, first in line, arrived at the store at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, with Jen Bennett and Courtney Johnson coming around 2 p.m.

Gregory was aiming for the tablet and has been going Black Friday shopping for the last four to five years. Decked out in Ravens gear, she was sad to be missing the game but was keeping up to date on it through text alerts.

Joining Bennett was her mother, Terri Gibadlo, who had traveled to Bel Air from Georgia.

"I came all the way from George to stand in line," she joked. "This is on my bucket list, to do Black Friday with my daughter."

Her daughter was planning to get a variety of things, including video games. Lining up for Black Friday is something she always does, Bennett said, because there are "too good of deals to pass up."

Bringing up the end of the line, at the time, Stephanie and Jaysen Santiago didn't have any items in mind for their Toys 'R' Us Black Friday shopping and came "just to see what's on sale."

They were also doing Christmas shopping for Stephanie Santiago's sister. For her, Stephanie Santiago said, it's also "just fun."