Ron Burwood walks out of GameStop in Augusta with a PlayStation 5 just after 7 a.m. Friday. He had arrived at 7:30 Thursday morning and waited 23 1/2 hours to purchase one of only two PlayStation 5 consoles at the store. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — Josh Dravo and Ron Burwood took no chances to be the first in line at GameStop at the Marketplace at Augusta on Black Friday.

Dravo of Burnham and Burwood of Oakland set up camp in an ice fishing tent at 7:30 a.m. Thursday in order to get a PlayStation 5, which released earlier this month, but have been difficult to get because they sell out quickly both online and in stores. The game console retails for $499, but resale prices have doubled and tripled that amount.

Dravo and Burwood had food delivered through Thursday and Friday, and Darvo’s mother actually brought in a plate from their Thanksgiving dinner.

“We had a game plan coming in,” Dravo said. “I heard there might only be two here.”

Setting up camp is a normal activity on the night before Black Friday, but this year is a bit different due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Many stores opened later than usual and, evidenced at many stores in Augusta, many shoppers stayed home.

Augusta GameStop manager Tyler Brown said around 2 p.m. that some people left the store disappointed as some of the more popular items, like the aforementioned PlayStation 5, were limited in stock and demand was pinched by more people staying home during the pandemic. While the store opened up a bit later than is usual for Black Friday due to the pandemic, Brown said it was “a pretty awesome day.”

At Walmart, a couple dozen people were lined up at each door early Wednesday and social distancing may have created an illusion of a line longer than it was. This is a far cry from the winding lines that have wrapped almost around the store on pre-pandemic Black Fridays.

One of those in line at Walmart was Mark Stevenson of Auburn. Stevenson joined the line at Walmart after holding a place in line at GameStop at 10 p.m. Thursday. Stevenson, like Darvo and Burwood, was also hoping to get his hands on a PlayStation 5.

“If you’ve been watching the news, the PlayStation 5 is the hottest console on the market,” he said. “When they release online, people buy bots to purchase them (automatically). Somebody like (me) … can’t get those due to the bots.”

Mary Lucas of Solon, left, and Dorothy Knox of Cornville were first to enter Kohl’s on Friday as it opened at 5 a.m. in The Marketplace at Augusta. They said that they’d arrive two hours earlier and had spent the first hour waiting in their vehicle before standing outside. Last year, when most stores opened at stroke of midnight, there was a larger crowd of shoppers. Some stores still opened at midnight, but larger ones like Kohl’s and Walmart waited to open at 5 a.m. The longest line was at GameStop, which didn’t open until 7 a.m. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Over at Kohl’s, Mary Lucas of Solon and Dorothy Knox of Cornville had been in line since 3 a.m. Friday. Both said it was a relative late start compared to other years, and they didn’t know so many stores would be open on the day.

Lucas said it didn’t feel the same as past Black Fridays.

“It’s bizarre,” she said. “Before we’d be in line and somebody would be coming over selling coffee and hot cocoa, and none of that is going on this year.”

Behind them in line, Isabella Emerson of Sidney said it was probably the best year of any to do Black Friday shopping due to the small lines. She was the third person in line at Kohl’s when she arrived at 3:30 a.m.

“I’m just taking advantage of the no line,” Emerson said.

Rickey Nye of Waterville said he drove to Augusta’s Walmart for his first time out on Black Friday because it’s bigger than the one in his hometown. He said it seemed a lot different from previous years, but shopping hasn’t changed much for him.

Josh Dravo, center, zips up himself and Ron Burwood in an ice fishing tent at 5:45 a.m. Friday at GameStop in The Marketplace at Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“Wear the mask and wash your hands,” Nye said.

Jayda Dunn, part of Nye’s shopping group, said she thought the line would get longer as the day progressed. She recalled last year that the line was “really long” as they drove past Walmart in Augusta.

 Kennebec Journal photographer Joe Phelan contributed reporting to this article. 

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