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Black Friday: Lookie-loos and fragile friendships in Torrance

Black Friday crowds gathered at Wal-Mart and Best Buy in Torrence
The crowds at Wal-Mart, often a reliable setting for Black Friday insanity, drew about two dozen onlookers in Torrance just before the doors were set to open at 10 p.m. Thursday

West Los Angeles resident Sarah Gacina, 36, stood watching, amused, with her husband and a friend. They said they had planned to buy some stocking stuffers but woefully underestimated the dedication of the thousands of other shoppers who had arrived before them.

"I really misunderstood the dynamic here," Gacina said with a laugh. "We're going to go get a glass of wine instead."

At a Torrance Best Buy store Thursday night, the mood was less convivial. Tyler Randall, 24, said he had been in line since noon Wednesday and had made friends with those around him as they waited in line for the Black Friday sale to begin. Not so much with passersby, who he said had taunted him and his fellow bargain hunters, yelling at them to get jobs.

Many shoppers at the store were irritated at people toward the front of the line who had saved spots for others. Randall and others were busy calling Best Buy’s corporate offices to complain.

"People are going to come here at the last minute and get all this stuff," Randall said. "Tensions are rising. People have gotten sick, people have gotten hungry, they've run out of supplies. It rained on us at one point."

Wet weather and the line jumpers left first-timer Gustavo Berumen, 17, with pain in his back and the conviction to never shop Black Friday in person again. In 2012, he said, he plans to search for good deals online.

But this year, the Lomita resident said he wanted to land a $300 15.6-inch Intel Pentium laptop for his mother -– a computer he wouldn't have otherwise been able to afford.

"Look at this line wrapped all the way around the building," he said. "It just goes to show how desperate people are. I don't blame them ... No one has any money."

Nearby, Gisela Avila, 24, had spent the night wrapped in blankets in a lawn chair, not far from the parking lot, where portable toilets were set up. She said that instead of working on a Spanish paper due Monday, she had been waiting in line since Wednesday.

She said she had her eye on a 42-inch Sharp LCD high-definition television for $199, marked down from $499, to replace her current 15-inch TV.  

For Thanksgiving dinner, she chowed down on chicken and mashed potatoes from Ralphs. Her mother supplemented the meal later with turkey.

"I sacrificed to be here," Avila said. "My family thinks I'm crazy."

RELATED:

Black Friday: Pepper-spray attack adds to holiday-shopping violence

Black Friday: In Burbank, strategic shopping and some self-made NBA

-- Hailey Branson-Potts and Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Shoppers outside a Best Buy in Lakewood on Black Friday in 2010. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

 
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