Shopping for bargains and taking home friends

Staff writerNovember 28, 2013 


A shopper shows his joy with thumbs up as he is one of the very first few people to go in for Thanksgiving Day bargains at Toys "R" Us at the Tacoma Mall on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013.

LUI KIT WONG — Staff photographer Buy Photo

Many shoppers looking to take advantage of Thanksgiving bargains missed out on their turkey and trimmings Thursday.

Not Arnold LaGambina of Spanaway.

His wife, Donnette, had the bird in the oven at 5 a.m. so LaGambina could have his turkey dinner before heading into Tacoma to queue up outside Best Buy at 1:48 p.m. — four hours, 12 minutes before the store opened.

His quest: To score a free Samsung smartphone being offered with a two-year service contract.

“My wife’s the best,” LaGambina, 49, said a bit sheepishly as Donnette stood nearby.

The LaGambinas were among hundreds who gathered outside South Sound retailers for Black Friday Eve specials Thursday.

By midafternoon, crowds were outside the Target on Union Avenue and the Toys R Us near the Tacoma Mall. People lounged in lawn chairs, surfed the Internet on smartphones, read books, sipped at water bottles and did some old-fashioned social networking.

“Making friends is what we’re doing,” Arnold LaGambina said as he motioned to the people immediately in front and back of him in line.

One of the biggest groups was outside Best Buy, where more than 75 folks had lined up by 4 p.m.

Angel Membrilla was at the head.

The 20-year-old Tacoma resident arrived at the store at 5 a.m. toting three sandwiches, a blanket, a portable gaming device and his cellphone. Membrilla said he wanted to be first in line to ensure he got a Dell Inspiron laptop computer that was going for about $200.

“It was a good deal for the laptop,” he said. “It usually retails for, like, $500.”

Membrilla wore a T-shirt with “Security” printed on the front, hoping Best Buy employees might be tricked into letting him in early.

No dice.

So he passed the time “making friends, going online and playing games,” he said.

One of the friends he made was Melissa Hogfoss, 28, also of Tacoma.

Hogfoss was second in line but got to sleep in, arriving at the store about 9 a.m.

She wanted a 39-inch Insignia TV on sale for $169.99, even though she already stood in line outside Best Buy to buy a television two years ago.

“This one is for a different room,” Hogfoss said.

She also had her eye on a Kindle Fire, a Blu-ray player and other merchandise being offered at a discount.

“After this, I’m done,” Hogfoss said. “I hope I don’t have to come back here next year.”

She said she wasn’t bummed about missing Thanksgiving dinner.

“My family doesn’t live here, so it’s no big deal to me,” Hogfoss said.

But one was left to wonder whether Thanksgiving is celebrated at all in the Hogfoss clan. At one point, she talked by phone with her mother and sister who were in Fargo, N.D., lined up outside – wait for it – Best Buy.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644

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