And They're Off! Black Friday shoppers already in line

Self-described campers, Diana Jimenez and Christy Karras are going to put those skills to use.

The 23-year-old Modestans were the first to line up at Best Buy on Wednesday afternoon, nearly 36 hours before the popular electronic store on Sisk Road opens at 5 a.m. to what likely will be hundreds of frenzied Black Friday shoppers.

"I can't make as much as I can save," said Jimenez, who works full-time at United Rentals and also is a full-time business administration student at California State University, Stanislaus.

Karras, a student-teacher at Johansen High School, is there for "moral support."

Jimenez, in need of a laptop computer, saw an ad on Monday about an HP computer regularly priced at $1,999 going for $699. With her boyfriend away camping over the Thanksgiving weekend, she figured "I might as well go shopping?"

She also plans to buy a printer and a universal remote, among other things.

Karras, who has been friends with Jimenez ever since their days at Virginia Park Elementary School in Ceres, wants to buy a camera.

Jimenez said her mom was disappointed she wouldn't be there for Thanksgiving dinner. Jimenez had planned to bring stuffed mushrooms and asparagus.

"Now she's going to bring me food and support," Jimenez said.

The two had chairs, sleeping bags and other camping gear, including lanterns. There also were cupcakes, soda and games.

Karras was correcting a stack full of papers from her Johansen students, while Jimenez checked her phone and chatted with curious passers-by.

The two plan to have subs for a few hours so they can go home, shower and "use a real bathroom ... instead of a porta-potty."

Customers entering and exiting the store on Wednesday night stopped to ask the same question: "What are you waiting to buy?"

Jimenez and Karras were joined in the fenced-off area along the storefront by 16-year-old Leonardo Lomeli of Westley, and his uncle, Homberto Castro, 32, of Grayson.

The two want to buy a Sony PlayStation 3, a Nikon camera, a GPS navigation system and some games.

Lomeli has spent the last two Wednesdays/Thursdays before Black Friday at the Wal-Mart in Ceres. This year, Best Buy offered more things to his liking.

Most of the chain retailers in the area are opening anywhere from 4-6 a.m. on Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

Lomeli said once the doors open, "you've got to be quick."

Jimenez said she's been online reading forums about protocol when the doors open, and just wants to make sure she has in hand the proper tickets distributed by the salespeople.

Karras? Well, as a former Best Buy employee, she knows the drill. She used to be the one on the other side of the sliding glass door as it opened to the masses.

"I used to hate it when I walked up and saw all those people," she said.

What do their friends and family think?

"They all say we're crazy," Jimenez said.