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Some sacrifice to get bargains

WILKES-BARRE TWP. – While most people were home enjoying turkey, football and a cozy fireplace, Frank Makaravage was camped out in front of the Best Buy grilling hot dogs, sipping on hot cocoa and counting down the hours until he could get his hands on a $400 HP laptop for half the price and a camcorder on sale for less than $200.

The Wilkes-Barre man and his nephew, Pat Belusko of Hanover Township, arrived at the Arena Hub Plaza at 3:15 p.m. Thanksgiving afternoon. They came prepared with a two-man dome tent, hand warmers and nourishment. He staked out a piece of the sidewalk just to the right of the front door.

Makaravage is a Black Friday veteran, though he said it’s the first time he’s ever been first in line and the first time he came to shop looking like he was on a camping trip.

He said he was determined to get the laptop and camcorder, even if it meant braving 14 hours of wind, rain and hot dogs. He came prepared to sell hot dogs, hot chocolate and hand warmers to others in line but he was so happy he was first in line and guaranteed both items on his wish list that he decided to share his bounty for free.

“I was in a good mood,” he said. “I even threw in mustard and ketchup.”

They might not camp out and they’ve never been first in line, but for Sara Swaditch and her mother, Susan Bellomo, Black Friday is all about tradition and camaraderie. They have the routine down to an art.

“We made our Dunkin’ Donuts stop. Coffee, doughnuts then Kohl’s,” said Swaditch, of Wilkes-Barre. Then the two head to Toys R Us and JC Penney. Bellomo drives in from Flemington , N.J., to spend the holiday weekend with her daughter, and they look forward to the deals and the mother-daughter bonding.

But those deals aren’t what they used to be, Swaditch said.

If anyone can verify that it’s fellow Kohl’s line mate Beth Ritz, of South Wilkes-Barre. Standing second in line, just one spot ahead of the mother-daughter team, Ritz has been to every Black Friday at this Kohl’s since the store opened six years ago. She said she loves the retailer but agreed that this year’s “doorbusters” were disappointments.

“I don’t think there’s really a lot of good deals,” Ritz said, though it didn’t deter her from her annual trek to Kohl’s.

“It’s like an addiction,” Ritz said. “It’s fun and you get to meet great people. We have a good time here in line.”

Sarah Ross, of Dallas, said she also laughed at the people camping out or waiting in line for hours to save a few bucks, but this year she became one of them.

“It’s not as boring as I thought it was,” said Ross while she blew on her hands to keep warm while waiting in line at the Best Buy. “I’d rather be home in bed, but my friends wanted to make a day of it. Shopping, a movie, some lunch. So I gave in.”

And what was it she was waiting in line since 3 a.m. to purchase?

“Nothing. I’m just here for moral support and to help carry some stuff.” And in return she gets to select the movie they’ll watch at the Cinemark theater at Montage.

“Its between the ‘Twilight’ one or the George Clooney one (‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’). Maybe both, depending on how much they make me carry,” she said with a laugh.

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