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Black Friday in Modesto area: Afternoon traffic could be troublesome

1:24 p.m. Update: Been hearing a little scanner traffic regarding, well, traffic near the Vintage Faire Mall.

Then just go to this Tweet from J.D. Langley a few minutes ago: "Wow. The traffic around the mall area is insane! almost 15 min to get from Standiford/Sick to Pelandale/Salida Blvd."

So, don't say we didn't warn you.

Recalling last year, there was a huge jam around the mall as morning turned into afternoon.

Keep that in mind as you plan the rest of your day.

11:53 a.m. Update: If you're looking for a Kodak CD82 digital camera listed for $69 at Wal-Mart, you won't find one at the Sisk Road or Turlock stores.

Monica Sliva of Turlock went to the Sisk Road store, hoping to buy two about an hour ago, and found they were sold out. She called the Turlock store. No dice.

"Everything I wanted at Wal-Mart was sold out," she said.

Surveying the store a few minutes ago, she said: "It's like an earthquake happened."

She said even a few toys and a basketball she was going to pick up were gone.

She had an idea for retailers. Either buy more product in anticipation of Black Friday, or have stuff go on sale at different times of the day, especially for those people who have to work.

11:48 a.m. Update: McHenry Village had a light crowd at mid-morning. Chris Hansen, manager of Valley Sporting Goods, said his store tends to get busy later in the day and does not have the kind of frenzy seen at big-box retailers.

10:48 a.m. Update: Apparently, Tuolumne County isn’t the quiet hamlet some think it is.

Jim Hildreth, the former city councilmember, arrived at the Wal-Mart in Sonora thinking he’d have an easy time picking up an inexpensive laptop. Certainly, there wouldn’t be too many frenetic shoppers at 6:15 in the morning.

Wrong.

“I couldn’t believe the streams of cars exiting, and I arrived at 6:15," he said. “There were flat screen TVs, televisions large items coming out. The parking lot was 85 to 95 percent full.

“There also were a lot of charge cards. I thought, ‘Wait a minute. Don’t we have 12 percent unemployment?’ "

Hildreth was looking for an inexpensive HP laptop, but was told there were none. He asked for a raincheck, and they said no chance.

He then went back to ask someone about online, and the salesperson said they did have some Acer laptops in the back for less than $300. He snapped one up.

He said not only were the shoppers the real winners today, what with all the bargains. He also pointed to the sales tax the city will reap.

10:24 a.m. Update: Monica Sliva of Turlock has been shopping all morning at Vintage Faire Mall, and had a good reminder to customers: Watch what’s being rung up.

“If you don’t know what 25 percent, 40 percent or 50 percent off is, and you’re not watching what they’re ringing up, you’re going to be paying more,” she said.

She said she went into one store and the price at the register came up for more than what was listed on the floor. The person at the register would not honor the lower price, so she left.

Sliva said JC Penney is an absolute zoo. She said there are 15 people waiting at each register, but said the customer service is excellent.

“I’ve been really impressed,” she said. “They’re working really fast. I feel for salespeople but they were laughing and joking and really nice with the customers.”

A former Macy’s employee, Sliva said Macy’s at the mall wasn’t nearly as busy. She did go into buy something, however, and it came up at the cash register as costing more. The salesperson saw where the item came from, and honored the lower price.

The lesson for today, and throughout the shopping season?

“People need to watch out,” Sliva said.

8:46 a.m. Update: Just talked to officer Ryan Mayfield with the Modesto Police Department, and he says traffic is clear on the streets of Modesto. The California Highway Patrol Web site shows no accidents in and around Highway 99.

The National Weather Service is forecasting rain for the Modesto area early this evening, if any falls at all.

As for the Vintage Faire Mall, our reporter says the parking lot is beginning to fill up. Traffic around the mall is OK at this point, he said.

Monica Sliva of Turlock (see above) said she was impressed by the Modesto Police Department presence knowing that 'Tis the season for theft.

9:28 a.m. Update: Shoppers were using the Twitter social networking site to let others know what they were experiencing.

What are we hearing?

From Gary Duffey of Modesto at 12:25 p.m.: "Ten minet drive to mall to pick up Ange turned into 40 min. I'm stayin my a-- home today. Its scary outside!"

From Simon Ladesma of Riverbank at 11:38 a.m.: "Mom just handed me a terabyte external hard drive (apparently there was a pretty good Black Friday deal somewhere - I think at Best Buy)."

From Le'Le' Ortiz of Merced at 10:08 a.m.: "Sad. Black friday here and bookstore parking lot is empty. These are the best gifts in here"

From Tisha M. Hughes at 9:28 a.m.: "standing in line to eat at mimis in modesto. resturant full."

Janelle Lyons of Modesto said her party waited outside the Riverbank Best Buy beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday: "(We) got our Sony laptop and video camera! Left there at 5:45! Fun fun!"

About 6 a.m., Quincy Quarles said: "The mall is packed. The lines this morning were crazy." In message a little later, he said: "Some (people) look crazy. They should of stayed home. Wow!!!!!"

From Sabrina Valderrama of Modesto: "WOW i am never doing black hell friday again!!!!!!!!!!! atleast i got what i wanted"

From Elizabeth in Merced: "I'm not into Black Friday - I hate lines & I love sleep - but if you are, I hope you have a great time & save lots of money."

The Bee is monitoring the tweets of shoppers in Stanislaus County. To better get our attention, include either @modbee or #bfmo in the text of your tweet.

8:40 a.m. Update: Our reporter at Vintage Faire Mall said he was surprised by the number of infants in strollers being pushed around so early in the morning.

Tiffani Kowalski and Ron Fideldy of Lathrop decided to leave their 7-month-old with “grandma.”

“We didn’t know how crazy things would be,” Tiffani said as they took a break from shopping at Cinnabon.

They admitted not to being “morning people,” but couldn’t pass up taking advantage of the great prices.

“We’re out here today for the deals,” Tiffani said.

The crowd at the mall at 8 a.m. was described as “pretty good-sized, but not overwhelming at all.”

8:13 a.m. Update: The hot item at Target, at least in Riverbank, was the Westinghouse 32-inch flat panel television that was on sale for $246.

A lot of the people near the front of the line said they were zeroing in on that.

Well, here's the bad of Black Friday.

Stefanie Fore of Oakdale, who was among the first five in line, had that at the top of her list.

Before the doors opened, a security guard and Target employee walked the line imploring people to be orderly and to walk, not run. ( Click here for video)

Fore entered the store heading for one of the TVs, which were stacked on a pallet.

Fore followed directions, but apparently, by the time she got back to electronics, people behind her took a different route, running along the way.

She had her hands on one of the last TVs before a man snatched it from her, she said.

"It's OK," Fore said a few hours later. "There were people running and pushing.

"He probably needed it more than me."

Fore seemed just fine settling for some stocking stuffer purchases.

Joey Miranda, a 20-year-old from Modesto, works at the Riverbank Target.

He also came in search of that flat panel TV.

Any insider deals? Not a chance, he said. He had to wait in line like everyone else.

He made off with one of the last ones.

"I was a little skeptical," he said.

He said he didn't see too many people outright running, but there was some definite "power walking."

7:50 a.m. Update: Our reporter just headed up to the Vintage Faire Mall, and said the parking lot is about three-quartrers full.

He said he took the Standiford Road exit off Highway 99, and said the left turn lanes to get on Sisk Road were virtually empty. There was no problem getting into the parking lot.

He said there were a number of people already leaving. All stores at the mall were open by 6 a.m.

So, if you're heading up that way, now might be a good time.

Meanwhile, at the Riverbank Target opening at 5 a.m. ...

Terrie Brown of Oakdale, along with her 11-year-old grandson, were the first in line.

It's the first time in her 30 years of going out on Black Friday that Brown had reached No. 1.

Brown and Timmothy got in line after Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday at 5 a.m.

Her hope was to snag one of the Westinghouse flat panel TVs that Stefanie Fore (see above) missed out on.

"It's a tradition," she said of going out on Black Friday.

Brown said she once waited seven hours to purchase Cabbage Patch Dolls, which were all the rage in the early 1980s.

She said that over the years an earlier start is a must. She said she used to show up at stores at about 7 a.m. on Friday.

She spent the time Thursday night and Friday morning talking to her grandson. They both left at 9 p.m. for a couple of hours. Timmothy took a nap for a couple of hours in the parking lot.

"I thought it was pretty fun," he said, minutes before Target opened.

Well, it wasn't all fun. Terrie Brown said a man drove up in a truck at about 7 p.m., and blew a bunch of diesel smoke on them, then hooked a U-turn and flashed his lights at them for awhile.

So, did Brown get her TV?

"Well, I started going in and I was walking," she said. Then people started to come up from behind me and started to run. I have a bloody finger and a bruised finger, but I have my TV.

"I had a finger inside the box and they were trying to grab it from me. But I waited 12 hours, so I was going to get it. It was fun."

After Target, it was on to Wal-Mart and K-Mart.

Elsewhere ...

There have been reports of a "madhouse" at the Ceres Wal-Mart and one person who had already hit Target by 6 a.m., and was headed to Wal-Mart.

Toys 'R' Us in Modesto opened at midnight.

And if you had been over there, you would have thought Orchard Supply Hardware also was open.

Its parking lot was jam packed, but apparently, it was filled with shoppers heading over to Toys 'R' Us.

Check back on this story throughout the morning. It'll be updated with the latest news around Modesto stores, along with stories, photos and videos from Black Friday.

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