CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — A full 10 days before Best Buy opens its doors for special Thanksgiving sales, Jonas Allooh was in line.
On Monday, he pitched his 10-man tent just to the left of the front doors and fired up his gas generator and space heater.
“This is the first time I’ve been first,” the 28-year-old said.
By the next day, he had company.
Tony Regec – who was first in line last year – set up a second tent.
Regec “came earlier than he had planned to because he saw the other tent was here,” said Regec’s parents, Ed and Janet of Akron, who were holding down the fort while their son made a run for more supplies.
Expect other squatters to join them by week’s end.
“We’ve got a little community here,” Allooh said.
Store manager Josh Parker said the bargain hunters are a little ahead of schedule. He’s used to seeing the tents go up in anticipation of Black Thursday sales, but usually just a week early.
Still, he doesn’t mind.
“It builds excitement for us,” he said. “It’s kind of the culture of our business.”
Parker said employees will check on their temporary residents from time to time.
“We don’t want anything bad to happen to them on our watch,” he said. “But they’re professionals. They know what they’re doing.”
Indeed. In addition to a generator and space heater, Allooh’s home-away-from-home has a bed, a microwave oven, a laptop computer, a TV and a game console.
Regec’s digs will be suited up similarly by the time he’s done, his parents said.
Allooh expects to have plenty of company. Nine other friends – some of whom have been part of this Thanksgiving tradition longer than he has – are in on the deal and will be with him when the sale commences at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
He said the store requires one person to be present at the tent at all times, but that the tent reserves a space for 10 in line.
“We’ll play board games and keep pretty active,” he said.
Allooh said he recently graduated from a college program and is currently unemployed, so he’s free to handle the third shift alone. He slept pretty good Monday night, he said, though it takes some getting used to the bright parking lot lights keeping his tent somewhat illuminated.
“The biggest problem is people coming through here in the middle of the night, honking,” he said.
But he’s never heard of safety being an issue, and as the line grows, everyone will look out for each other, he said.
Ed and Janet Regec said they and son Tony will be joined by a few family members on Thanksgiving. In the meantime, they’ll make food runs to him and relieve him for showers and breaks.
In 11 years, the Regecs said their son estimates he’s saved “tens of thousands of dollars” on electronics and other Black Friday purchases at the store. The deals come in handy for the father of five, they said, and since he’s a sound engineer for a rock band, he’s got the spare time during this slow season.
For themselves, the retired Regecs have their eyes on a new TV for the kitchen. They purchased a new 40-inch set for the living room last year and saved a few hundred dollars.
Allooh is also interested in a TV as well as a new monitor for his desktop computer. Best Buy’s sales are already online so he’s had the chance to look them over.
“All in all, if you added up everything (the 10 friends) saved last year, it was a couple of thousand dollars,” he said.