Christi Armstrong has been the first person in line on Black Friday at the Toys R Us in Robinson three years running.
This year was no exception. She arrived at the store at 1:15 p.m. in anticpation of the 8 p.m. Thanksgiving opening. She missed having a holiday dinner, but didn't mind at all.
Her annual Black Friday shopping trip is her special time.
"I have quiet," she said. "I come here, and I don't have to answer any questions at all. It's so peaceful.
"It's one time a year that's my time."
She plotted her shopping expedition out Wednesday night, as she did rounds of the store. She mapped out where everything was that she wanted and made a plan.
"I know exactly what I want and where it is."
At the Wal-Mart in Robinson, there were no parking spaces anywhere. Making the process more difficult was that the top of each aisle was blocked off, eliminating the possibility of pulling through and going up the next one.
Cars were lined up in the lot, one after another attempting to do three-point turns to get out of the lane and seek parking elsewhere. Even though traffic throughout the Robinson shopping area was still pretty light around 8:30 p.m., the backup there made up for it.
As of 7 p.m., there were about 130 people in line at the Toys R Us.
David Henchell, of Verona, said the line was much smaller than in years past, despite much warmer temperatures.
"This is wonderful compared to the last few years," he said.
This is the fourth year he has gone out.
Mr. Henchell characterized the crowd as calm. Last year he saw a couple fights break out over Zhu Zhu pets.
He arrived in line with his 16-year-old daughter, Mariah Michaelson.
They planned to buy an iPod Nano and video games. None of the gifts will be distributed until Christmas.
About 7:40 p.m. store manager Dale Smith, along with four employees in red shirts, emerged from the store with tickets. They were to hand out the small white slips of paper marked with individual items to the shoppers in line.
As they walked past the hundreds of people gathered from the front doors of Toys R Us all the way along to the front doors of the closed IKEA, they shouted things like, "iPod, black or white. PS Vita, Call of Duty package," and "I have Power Wheels."
Shoppers from deep in the line who couldn't hear what was being described, shouted, "What is it?" And Mr. Smith calmly answered, "I'll be down," before making his way deliberately from person to person.
In the seconds before 8 p.m., Mr. Smith shouted into the store, "You guys ready? Here they go."
And at 8 p.m. on the nose, the shoppers entered, orderly and friendly. It might have helped that only 50 people were allowed in at a time.
And a 78-year-old security guard named Frank was stationed at the door to keep the peace. He planned to be there until 1.
att Purviance was the first shopper to emerge from Toys R Us after the doors opened.
In less than five minutes, the Steubenville man got what he was looking for. But even though Mr. Purviance was in and out quickly, he wasn't done. His wife was still inside shopping.
First Published November 23, 2012 4:30 AM