Decked out in goose-down jackets, Sorel boots and long johns, hundreds of Central Albertans stood in line overnight and then headed into the stores on Boxing Day.
Jerry Hopkins was the first in line at Future Shop in Red Deer. He and his brother Chris Hopkins arrived at midnight, wearing multiple layers of clothing.
Jerry had a pair of boots that were good to minus 100 C and a goose down coat that covered two thirds of his body.
“It’s a good coat. It’s probably more expensive than the TV I’m buying today,” said Jerry, around an hour before the store opened at 6 a.m. on Saturday. Temperatures were as low as minus 20 C early Saturday morning.
Jerry was there to pick up a 50-inch plasma TV for what he calls his “man cave”, also known as the rec or rumpus room. His brother Chris was there for moral support.
Chris joked that he was bribed to come, with Jerry picking up tickets for them to go to the Calgary Flames versus Vancouver Canucks game.
Chris was home for Christmas from Vancouver, where he now lives.
The change in temperature was pretty dramatic for him.
“In Vancouver we panic whenever we see the white stuff,” Chris said.
By 5:15 a.m. on Saturday in Red Deer, there were around 50 to 60 people in line outside of Future Shop and staff members were taking people’s orders long before the store opened and passing them numbers to ensure shoppers received the items they wanted.
Not far away at Best Buy in Red Deer, the line-up had at least 80 people in it by 5:20 a.m. They were looking through flyers, shuffling their feet back and forth to stay warm or slurping down coffee.
Red Deer friends Steffan Adam and Josh Yaskowich were at the front of the line at Best Buy. They had arrived at 10:30 p.m. Christmas Day to be the first ones in the store.
Adam’s TV broke during a move in December and he wanted to replace it, while Yaskowich was interested in a new PlayStation 3. Adam said they stayed warm during the night by “skanking,” dancing in a ska-music style, and doing a little air boxing. Some of the staff at Best Buy gave them hand warmer packets and Adam stuffed four into his boots.
Yaskowich wore steel toe boots, which he said he wouldn’t recommend anyone do. He said next time he’d wear wool socks and Adam said he’d bring a scarf.
Keith Wegner, of Gull Lake, was in line in front of Best Buy with his wife Annette and sons Jacob, 9, and Aidan, 15. The family arrived at 4 a.m., but Annette and Jacob stayed in the van keeping warm until the last minute. The family members were interested in everything from computer speakers to a camera and PS3 games.
Staff at Best Buy passed out sheets for certain high demand items to those in line before the store opened. When the doors did open at Best Buy at 6 a.m. the line up of 400 to 500 people was long enough that it went as far as the sidewalk at the end of the block and wrapped onto the road in front of the Motel 6.
Other stores also opened early on Boxing Day. Wal-mart and Old Navy opened at 6 a.m. and Zellers opened at 7 a.m. Bower Place Shopping Centre and Parkland Mall were both set to be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Visions Electronics in Red Deer had around 50 people lined up out front around a half an hour before the store opened at 7 a.m.
Ray Raguindin, of Red Deer, stood waiting at the door by the side of the store starting at 3 a.m. hoping to pick up a high definition Monster Cable. He was taking turns warming up in the truck with another friend in the line-up.
Cody Ford, of Red Deer, arrived around 10 minutes after Raguindin. He wanted a car starter and a 32-inch LCD TV. He said to save a couple of hundred dollars the wait outside was all worth it.
At Dot’s in downtown Red Deer on Saturday it was still pretty quiet in the morning. Many of the stores and cafes close by were closed for the day or not opening up until lunch time.
Jesse Campbell, a sales associate at Dot’s, said they’ve had a Boxing Day sale on for the past two weeks, with as much as 50 per cent off on some items. That sale continued, along with other markdowns, on Saturday.
She expected to have some customers drop in to the store by the afternoon, especially the diehards looking for a good deal.