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Shoppers bust doors, hunt bargains, find deals as Black Friday launches holiday buying season
Area retailers report smooth day of selling, with TVs the most popular item
Ricardo Becerra, and girlfriend Maryana Hernandez have the first two spots in line Thursday afternoon at Best Buy as they wait for the store to open. A few minutes after the store opening Becerra and Hernandez walked out with the televisions they wanted.

Black Friday is either an exhilarating way to score a deal or an overwhelming disaster of traffic and digging through bargain bins, depending whom you ask.

The Belk department store at Lakeshore Mall had a nearly full parking lot when Grace Morrow, the manager on duty for Black Friday, got to work. She arrived an hour and a half before doors opened and didn’t have too much trouble on her shift.

“It was so nice and smooth,” Morrow said.

The Belk Boots Outpost, a separate store a few spots down from the women’s section, was very close to selling out the night of Thanksgiving.

“Most of the boots are gone,” Morrow said Friday evening.

Sears manager Norris George said the retailer’s Black Friday went swimmingly, too.

“It was awesome,” George said. “Deals were going in and out of the doors, customers were smiling, employees were high-fiving each other.”

Their $199 dishwashers were the most popular item, though specific numbers were not available by Friday evening.

While Lakeshore Mall’s shoppers seemed to have enough parking spaces, the lines were so long at some of the shops at the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville some had to park their cars on the lawns. Nike, Coach, The North Face and Kate Spade all had 30-minute or longer lines even after midnight.

Raven Charest 18, and her boyfriend Garrett Gladden, both of Cleveland, skipped the long lines in Dawsonville and came to Gainesville’s Best Buy for their big Black Friday jaunt. The store opened at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving, but they got there about an hour and a half before the store opened.

While they were in line, a Best Buy employee passed out tickets, each representing what the person wanted in the store.

“That way people didn’t fight each other over the TVs,” Gladden, 21, said. “You got a ticket, you got a TV.”

The couple came specifically for one item: a $200 49-inch Toshiba TV. They were lucky enough to snag one.

While the couple said this year was a breeze, Gladden said he had a not-so-pleasant experience two years ago trying to buy a tablet at Target.

“It was hell on earth,” Gladden said.

Edgar Vasquez, 22, showed up to the store at 3 p.m. to make sure he got his. When he got there, around 20 people were in front of him in line.

“The line got really long after I got (to Best Buy),” said Vasquez, a Gainesville resident.

He was also able to get one of the TVs before they sold out.

Another couple, Ricardo Becerra and Maryana Hernandez of Gainesville, were prepared for the worst when they set out to get the same TV from the same location. Becerra got there at 9 a.m. to ensure he would get one.

“We were expecting a lot more people,” Becerra, 20, said. “No one was here when we got (to Best Buy).”

Before he made his game plan, Becerra consulted the internet.

“I compared (Best Buy’s) deals with other stores,” he said.

Becerra and Hernandez were able to score the TV they came for without much fuss.

“It was pretty stress-free,” he said.

Once they had two TVs in their arms, they headed off to spend the rest of the holiday with their families.

“I’m just ready to go eat now,” Hernandez said. By the time they were leaving the store at 5:30 p.m., all the Toshiba TVs were gone.

General manager Adam Dutton said the 48 on hand went fast.

“They were sold out before we even opened,” Dutton said. “It was definitely the most popular thing we had.”