Crowds gathered in record-setting frigid temperature as early as Thursday morning waiting for central Maine area stores to open at midnight for Black Friday shopping sales.

The temperature plunged into single digits in central Maine overnight Thursday into Friday morning, setting two weather records in Augusta. The National Weather service confirmed that Thursday had lowest-ever high temperature in November — 14 degrees — breaking the previous record of 25 degrees, set in 2008. The low temperature of 4 degrees was also the lowest-ever low temperature in November, breaking the 9-degree mark set in 1978.

While a lot of the action was centralized at the Marketplace at Augusta, shoppers also were waiting patiently in the cold at Crossing Way.

Chris Turner, of Gardiner, was first line for the Best Buy store on Crossing Way. He said he started the line at 7 a.m. equipped with a space heater to keep himself and others warm.

“I’ve already gone through two propane tanks, but I’m trying to keep everybody warm,” he said just before midnight.

He was the only person in line at Best Buy until 3 p.m., when Marc Lizzotte, of Benton, joined him. Lizzotte, waiting in line for Black Friday shopping for the first time, was keen on a 43-inch Toshiba smart TV, marked down from $329 to $129. Instead of looking for a large quantity of deals, Lizzotte opted for a more tactical approach; he reserved the TV around 10:30 p.m. to buy it when doors opened at midnight.

“I keep it easy and focused,” he said. “The TV is what I wanted and the TV is what I got the coupon for.”

On Saturday, a number of shoppers will come out during normal business hours to take advantage of Small Business Saturday. The Kennebec Journal reported that local businesses were starting to prepare for a rush in business earlier this week.

A National Retail Foundation study estimated that 164 million people will shop over the five-day weekend around Thanksgiving, including Cyber Monday. About 71 percent of respondents said they would shop on Black Friday and 78 percent said they would shop on Small Business Saturday.

Turner, who has been the first person in line at Best Buy for five years in a row by his count, was in the market for video games and expected to spend $200.

“(I’m here for) the discounts you get on games; usually video games are $59.99, and you can get them for $30 on Black Friday,” he said

The Marketplace at Augusta held a “Rock the Night Away” promotion starting at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and ending at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. There were carolers, a food truck and photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Marketplace also gave away hand warmers, ear muffs, scarves and gloves and set up a mobile warming center to combat the cold.

Ellyne Fleshner, director of Regional Marketing for WS Development, told the Kennebec Jounral earlier this week that people come to the event for the partylike atmosphere. WS Development operates the Marketplace.

“The event draws from is the whole state,” Fleshner added. “Then there’s a lot of people who come from New York and Vermont and from across the border in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.”

Naquela Knox and her mother, Heather Owen, arrived right as doors opened at Kohl’s in Augusta for the first stop on their sixth-annual mother-daughter shopping trip. The pair was mainly interested in doorbusters, including the Nintendo Switch video game console and a children’s toy kitchen set. After a quick stop for stocking stuffers at Five Below, the duo planned on getting some sleep before heading to Target when it opened at 7 a.m.

Nicole Pullen, of Bowdoin, and Deborah Barlow, of West Gardiner, decided against waiting in line this year, opting to join the rush at Kohl’s right at midnight.

“We don’t wait outside; it’s too cold,” Pullen said. “We used to, and it’s not worth it.”

Pullen said she and Barlow enjoyed finding bargains and people-watching at Black Friday. Both mothers said the kids were back at home, and she was enjoying a break from her maternal responsibilities.

“We just get to be crazy and tired and make fun of people,” Pullen said. “We don’t get out much without the kids.”

At a busy Walmart store in Skowhegan on Black Friday, shoppers were entering the store with empty shopping carts and exiting with ones loaded with all kinds of merchandise.

Connor Mahon, of Carlow, Ireland, and now of Skowhegan, and Brianna Philbrick, of Skowhegan, were stocking up on household items, taking advantage of Black Friday bargain sales.

“We’re new to the area, so we have to buy a bunch of items anyway, so we’re just taking advantage of Black Friday sales,” Mahon said as the couple exited Walmart.

“It’s all for us,” Philbrick added with a laugh. “None of it is gifts.”

They purchased a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner, windshield wipers, a large hand-tool set and a Magic Bullet blender to make smoothies.

“We like it here in Skowhegan. People are friendly,” Mahon said.

Just behind the couple leaving the Skowhegan Walmart was William Dreckmann, of Manchester, New Hampshire, who, with his wife, is visiting their daughter in Skowhegan

“We picked up a couple of things for Black Friday,” he said. “We got some jeans and a bath mat, and different things like that — Christmas presents. We like this Walmart.”

Ty Friend, 17, of Madison, was at the Skowhegan Walmart, too, doing a little Black Friday shopping.

“I got some stuff for my mom, my dad, everybody else,” he said. “Trying to get it all done in one day on Black Friday. There’s a lot of chaos, but it’s fun. Good deals. Good people.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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