GENEVA – Jordan Hunter didn't have any big Thanksgiving Day plans. The 18-year-old Geneva resident said his family celebrated with his grandmother over the weekend.
So Hunter figured it was no big deal to spend his holiday lined up with friends, waiting for the midnight Friday opening of Best Buy in Geneva.
"Why not?" Hunter said. "Just to say you did it."
Stores throughout the area were opening at various times for Black Friday, with lines beginning to form at some Thursday afternoon. The crowd at Best Buy was civil, and people were smiling and patient, even the ones who never had gone through the experience before.
Hunter sat in a chair, strumming a guitar, and he and his friends – Ivan Melchor and Dray Louk – had set up a tent. Hunter said they arrived about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, while the store was still open, because they wanted to be first in line.
Hunter said it was the first time he had camped out in front of a store in anticipation of Black Friday deals. Hunter, who will be going away to college next year, said he was drawn by low prices on a big TV, and he wasn't alone.
Geneva resident Stefan Zipf stood a few spots behind Hunter in line, joined by his friend, Schaumburg resident Ephraim Gozum. They are classmates at DeVry University. Gozum wanted the big TV. Zipf said he was just there to keep his friend company. Gozum went to the Geneva Best Buy because he said the lines in Schaumburg were long.
Zipf said he was enjoying spending an unseasonably warm holiday with his friend. For Gozum, there was a small issue – he didn't tell his parents.
"They were calling, asking, 'Where are you?' " Gozum said. "I said I'm at Best Buy, camping out."
West Chicago resident Chris Carey was one spot ahead of Gozum. Carey also was looking for a deal on a TV, a quest that didn't go so well last year. Carey said last year, he didn't get the item he wanted. So he showed up earlier this time, 7:55 a.m.
At least this year the weather was better.
"Last year was really cold," Carey said.
For some, standing in line means breaking up a family gathering. But for others, camping out has become an annual event. Glendale Heights resident Kathy Terpening was just ahead of Carey, and she had company. Her boyfriend, Mike Bucciferro, was there with his sons. Another in the group, David May, said he was there for a Roku streaming player, and he wasn't even looking at a huge savings, either.
"I come for the tradition," May said.
Terpening said it was the fourth consecutive year she had shown up at the store. May said it was a good gathering place, as his grandmother lived nearby. And the lines aren't long at the Geneva store, he said, and people are civil. He praised the store's organization.
Terpening said the experience wasn't as good at other places. But she was happy to be there on Thursday. She could surf the Internet and McDonald's isn't too far away. Plus, she said, a Thanksgiving meal isn't really anything special for her.
"I'm a vegetarian," she said, when asked whether she was missing a turkey dinner. "So absolutely not."