Best Buy Doorbuster

Best Buy was running a number of Doorbuster sales this morning: Including a Panasonic 42" Plasma HDTV for $999, a Toshiba 50" Plasma HDTV for $1699, Westinghouse 32" LCD HDTV for $479, Hewlett-Packard Pavilion Notebook for $379, and Nintendo’s new hard to get Wii for $249 — and lots of DVDs for $2.99 and 4.99.

Since I’m on NY time and we’re an hour behind in Chicago, going to the store with my nephew at 4:45am to pick up a Nintendo Wii was no big deal – back home, I’m normally up an hour already.

As Mrs. Big Picture likes to say:  "Its not shopping, its economic research!"

We pull into the parking lot — and we’re stunned! Hardly any spots at all. The line starts at Best Buy, goes across the entire front of the strip mall — Best Buy, Ultra, Pier One, PetCo, and a few other stores — wraps around the side of the building and turns around the back!

My guesstimate is there were 500 to 1000 people waiting to get in. The store was very well managed, with good crowd control, well organized inside — it was like a maze the way they snaked everyone thru various departments, and to the registers. It was also fully staffed; these kids should get combat pay for working Black Friday at 4:45am

Of course, there were no Wiis (SUNDAY AM UPDATE: we hear thru Brad’s sources Wiis will be available Sunday AM, something my nephew swears me to secrecy on).

I pick up a buncha flix ($2.99: Groundhog Day, Ice Age, 50 First Dates; $4.99: Man on Fire, Fight Club, Crash). These are the same price as rentals, so I don’t terribly mind buying these in the soon to be defunct DVD format. Alas, my DVD buying is coming to an end, as I await to see which HD format — Blu-ray or HD-DVD — will be the winner.   

Its too bad I only had the Razr with me, and not the digital camera. For some reason, Verizon seems to be backed up with traffic, and the snaps I sent to myself are trickling in slowly — I’ll update this as the rest of the mod scene comes in later today (UPDATED BELOW):

Inside Scene, 5:05am

Front of Building
(Best Buy is at the far right on your screen — near the car w/brights on —  4 stores down)


to the left of Pier one are another few stores, then the line turns around the corner: 

Side of the building

Even the Media is here

Front Parking Lot

Next economic research stop for us: Land’s End.

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  1. LAWMAN commented on Nov 24

    Wifey went to BestBuy at 3:00 AM today and was number 210 in line. The woman in front of her had tried to go to an outlet shopping center which opened at midnight, but could not get there…people were parking 1/2 mile away on a busy interstate and walking to the outlet.

    Methinks this is going to be a decent holiday shopping season.

  2. Junebug commented on Nov 24

    Yeap, same story here. I just came back from the local BB and saw the line snake all the way around the building just to get in. Seemed to be a lot more foot traffic this year than last.
    After I saw that line, I said forget it, and went back home to sleep.

  3. Craig commented on Nov 24

    Okay Barry, I’m with you on the DVD deal……

    What’s the take of this crowd on HD DVD?

    Will Toshiba’s cheaper/less capacity format win over Sony’s more expensive/higher capacity format?

    This sure seems like a replay of VHS/Beta. I’m waiting too…..

  4. WW commented on Nov 24

    So what is the outcome of the research project?

    1)People have loads of dough to spend on Xmas
    2)People have no money, thats why they have to queue for many hours to save 50$ on BB
    3)People are trying to buy those Wii and Playstations to resell them on ebay for a small margin to make a few bucks on the side, money they need to pay their debt

    Ad DVD : I think they will come up with a system that can read both formats next year. Thats what everybody works on.


  5. scrooge commented on Nov 24

    anyone who gets suckered into the black friday hype is pathetic.

  6. ECONOMISTA NON GRATA commented on Nov 24

    Dolllar taking it in the cojones today. Looks like the ice is starting to crack (no pun intended). I thought that we might make it through the new year into 1Q07, but it’s not looking good.

    Starting to feel like Buenos Aires around here.

    Best regards,


  7. Chief Tomahawk commented on Nov 24

    Gosh… I’m sorry to see people didn’t read my post on Tuesday. One could have gotten the great deal, slept in and avoided the crowds… Oh well, live and learn!


    Well this is a bit out-of-place, but I figured I’d pass along the info if anyone can make use out of it…

    Best Buy has a doorbuster Friday of a 50″ Toshiba hdtv plasma for $1,699. It’s posted to their web site under “7 Hour Specials” ad on side.

    Not wanting to be trampled or have to get up at 4:30 am for the right to risk enduring such, I went to a Best Buy yesterday to check out the set. Looks good. It debuted in 4/06 and is due to be replaced with a new model 4/07. Salesman said it has a lifetime of 20,000 hours. Perhaps the biggest negative is the power draw: at 580 watts it’s roughly 5 times what my Sharp crt requires. And no picture-in-picture capability.

    That said, here’s my special info: the deparment manager said one can buy ahead of the sale (ie meaning today) at the regular price $2,399 and provided they schedule for a delivery, bring in the sales receipt during the sale hours Friday morning and get a credit back for the $700 difference. Apparently Best Buy has to guarantee 5 Toshibas at the special price for the sale… buying on delivery locks in one’s purchase and gives time for Best Buy to get the tv. The Best Buy I went to had 6 in stock as of yesterday, with the 6th one being the display.

    If you’re in the market for a 50″ hdtv, it may be worth your time to stroll by Best Buy today. Or, print out the listing off the Best Buy web site and take it to a competitor to price match.

    Posted by: Chief Tomahawk | Nov 22, 2006 9:27:23 AM

  8. scorpio commented on Nov 24

    i was just in Buenos Aires. kinda nice.

  9. whazzmaster commented on Nov 24

    Not a usual commenter here, but I had to add my on-topic experience from this morning. Went over to BB at 5:30a this morning to try and get a 50″ Toshiba and it looked like a bomb had gone off. My dad and I walked in and there was a stack of 32 and 50″ flat screens next to the front door. We stopped and wondered aloud, “So, uh, do we just say we want one or what?” The lady next to us (a larger lady in a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt and sweatpants) informed us “They’re all sold, I waited in line 18 hours and got a ticket. If you don’t have aticket you’re out of luck. These (jerks hand to indicate stack behind her) are all sold and waiting to be picked up.” Uh, ok Best Buy, apparently these TV’s didn’t go on sale this morning at 5am. Apparently all the tickets were gone 12 hours ago. Thanks for wasting my time. I’m going back to sleep.

  10. GerryL commented on Nov 24

    This is off topic but I found it to be pretty funny. There was an economist on CNBC this morning that was positive on the economy for next year. One of the reasons he stated was because oil prices would be lower because he expects a warm winter. I guess with the great success economists have had with predicting the economy they are now focusing on predicting the weather.

  11. ECONOMISTA NON GRATA commented on Nov 24

    Gee, what ever happened to the pony….? I guess the pony got the same fate as the milk man… I was one of those lucky kids that wrote a letter to Santa asking for a pony and got one. My parents were not rich by any stretch of the imagination and it was a real sacrafice for them. I’ll always remember my father for his good will. It’s just one of those lost pieces of the Americana puzle that I miss sooooooo much. The good will, that is…

    Best regards to all,


  12. Michael C. commented on Nov 24

    Why the heavy promotions this year? Does it mean anything at all?

  13. DavidB commented on Nov 24

    consumerism is the new religion and unless you are committing sacrifice to it you are not really considered an adherent….whether you can afford it or not

  14. blam commented on Nov 24

    OT – musings

    Looking in the rear view mirror – have been wrong for so long. I don’t think I’m necessarily wrong about stock overvaluation, I still think they’re 40 + % overvalued. I think my big miss was monetary policy. I simply have been unable to believe that the world governments would pump so much liquidity into the world economy. Now that the US Treasury (goldman) is in control, the money supply really appears to have gone out of control (if the info posted here is to be believed).

    I guess fear of the bubble collapse is a benign justification for profligate money creation. On the other hand, feeding the money into circulation through the crime families to speculate in the futures and equity markets seems like a self defeating idea.

    I don’t know how long it will continue and have no plans to buy equities for a long time. I also have no plans to bet against the US Treasury (goldman) at this time.

    Three external pushes on stocks today. (9:30,10:26, 11:57) The invisible hand ?

  15. fiat lux commented on Nov 24

    I drove past a CompUSA in San Mateo on the way home from dinner last night, and the line had already started forming at 9:00PM.

    Utterly crazy, the lot of them.

  16. kurth commented on Nov 24


    Don’t think of HD-DVD/Blueray as VHS/Beta. It’s more like DVD-A and SACD. Although the tech and media companies want consumers to go out and buy the very latest it’s mostly audio/videophiles interested in the media. By the time the general public gets involved, and before either format can “win” both will be commoditized. You may still end up replacing your library, but you’ll have a “choice.”

    Reading the EE rags it’s pretty clear that there are already reference designs sampling that can do both new HD formats (and an off brand is already available). The rest is software so I think we’ll see dual mode players before the prices really start to drop… and then who would be crazy enough not to get a dual mode? In fact they’ll also play standard DVDs so you’ll be able to buy gradually.

  17. me commented on Nov 24

    Did my own research. Started at BJs. I figured that with no sales they would not be crowded. I was right. then off to Target. Empty, less people than a normal Saturday morning.

    lastly to Walmart. Totally empty and they had a 32 LCD $598 and a 42-inch Plamsa $998. I even saw the guy stacking them spill a truck load of them on the floor.

    When checking out I asked the cashier if it was crowded. She said no, they opened at 5 same as last year and at 7, two hours later, they were 7 grand behind last year. She said everyone is shocked.

    This is BIG RED country where repugs won with 70 percent of the vote in the surrounding districts.

    Pictures on TV in Atlanta showed Mall parking lots half full as opposed to the usual much illegal parking and towing.

  18. ECONOMISTA NON GRATA commented on Nov 24

    OT: But amusing. From the Housing Bubble Blog….. :)

    From Vanity Fair. “This new architectural catwalk of ‘high-design,’ ‘high-concept,’ and ‘high-priced’ condo buildings doesn’t only fail to fit the vernacular of New York, it looks like a clearance sale from Europe and the Middle East.”

    “‘Real estate is being marketed like fashion,’ an excitable young bedroom broker to the rich and famous told me in the back of his stretch limo. ‘Architects are the new couturiers.’”

    “It’s a strange and lonely calling, that of the lifestyle salespeople for New New York. They wander the empty corridors like the friendly undead. All the undead Realtors are desperate for you to know the oddest things. They all begin with the ceiling height.”

    “Salespeople haunt the empty apartment, spinning a life made of brushed steel and 12 shades of Indian marble. After a time, the repetition of this lifestyle blends all the apartments into one apartment. They all have minute, $100,000 kitchens that no one will ever toast more than a bagel in, which is just as well because there’s nowhere to sit and eat anyway.”

    “There’s an overriding sense of impermanence. This is a fashion choice. No one will buy one of these gloomy spaces and say, ‘I want to have kids here. I want to grow old and die here.’ This is simply an investment opportunity with sleepover possibilities.”

    “Whatever these New New York lifestyle brokers tell you about the sales and occupancy of these buildings, they’re lying. They want you to get aboard this vertical trailer park because they want you to have a cool, imported, classy, unique lifestyle.”

    “All the salespeople believe the brochure. In truth, there is a swamp of unsold apartments. I’m told that many of the ones that are spoken for are speculative investments. They’ll stay empty for long weekends, through the summer and ski seasons. These blocks are constructed to be ghost towns echoing with the hum of unappreciated climate control.”

    “Their gyms will have Fox News silently terrifying the unexercised machines. Their entrance halls, with their slinky, ergonomic space, will doze as the elevators wink.”

    “This building boom isn’t a great expression of design and architectural excellence. It’s a massive speculation to relieve bankers of their bonuses, and bankers’ money is sterile. It buys peace and quiet and second-rate ideas.”

    “New York is a city that was built out of risk and danger, with much more poverty and failure than riches and success. Fund managers kill the thing they crave. They want to buy their way into excitement and that old promise of the New York vista, but they drive it out and make it extinct.”

    “The final, unpalatable, zero-tolerance truth is that hedge-fund managers, bankers, cynical architects, and insecurity-exploiting designers are far more damaging to the unstylized life of a city than all the junkies, prostitutes, panhandlers, urban cowboys, bag ladies, homeless, and graffiti kids they replace.”

    My best regards,


  19. DavidB commented on Nov 24

    that was sheer poetry econ

  20. cm commented on Nov 24

    Barry: What do you mean by “soon to be defunct DVD format”?

  21. Jason commented on Nov 24

    Sales volume was nice on the doorbusters, I went home after we got the initial rush down. But I don’t know about the margins on those items…

    Yes. It would be nice to get a bonus for Black Friday. But I went into overtime before Friday, so it adds up…

    Why give a holiday bonus on Thanksgiving, when most people are in turkey-induced comas, and not Black Friday, when people go bonkers?

  22. dryfly commented on Nov 24

    It was also fully staffed; these kids should get combat pay for working Black Friday at 4:45am

    My son was on the front lines working retail at Mall of America – he left before dawn and isn’t home yet. I hope he is okay.


  23. german sense commented on Nov 25

    Right, we should go up at 4 a.m. for buying 2 DVDs…

    Right now, Germany is changing the opening rules. The´ll be completely free 0-24pm 6/7, in most of the country + a couple of sundays a year.
    I came some years ago in Germany, and as a single young professional, I was mad at the stores closing at 6pm during the week and saturday afternoon.

    Since they extended it to 8pm.

    Now I am still no bad paid staff ata big store, but I completely changed my mind: why should a single mother work through the night because some workaholic cannot stop working and has to buy his underwears at 10pm?
    And at the end, not a single underwear more is sold, right? or is someone wearing 2 underwears at once, one he bought in the morning and the other in the evening? It is just a zero sum game between big stores.
    But the free market religion forbid to put any legal limit for the sake of the staff, and to be satisfied with just the competition about prices, offer, location, service…
    It has to be also about who can make the working condition of his staff the worst (but God forbid to compete in reducing the pay of the top managers).

    Sorry, I myself go up at 4 am. too sometines, but only for the mountain trek.

  24. Jason commented on Nov 25

    I’m a third shifter, myself, in retail. I like it, it allows me to have my days free to help my grandmother.

    But, at the same time, it limits what I can do at night for fun…

    Trade offs…

  25. german sense commented on Nov 25


    google for medical study about long term consequences of beiing a third shifter.
    I know, nobody want to work in retail so long, but it loooks more and more like the future of many…

  26. cm commented on Nov 25

    german sense: The closing hours were 18:30, not 18:00. Re is more stuff sold, yes, but I’d say rather marginally. I wouldn’t expect many more underpants being sold when people can shop at night, as typically you don’t need them here and now. That’s different for food and drink, and stuff you would buy on impulse. If the store is closed, or closing soon, you can’t have it or will reconsider, and typically will forgo it as the urge wears off.

    Back when I was living in Germany, store closing hours were a large practical problem for me as I didn’t have stores on my route from work, and my work schedule was slightly off because of commute issues. The issue was compounded by the fact that my spouse and me are both picky and preferred to buy particular things in various different stores. Many a Saturday I had to get out of bed earlier than I wanted to buy groceries (and of course stores and neighborhoods were always a zoo at that time). But I survived, and not too badly.

    In the end, the sacrifice extracted from retail workers will give shoppers some more breathing space, but will not lead to much improved sales. People will have more opportunity to buy things and not stand in front of closed doors, but that comes with more opportunity to comparison-shop …

    If German retail wants US-style sales numbers, they have to lobby they government to print more currency and relax lending guidelines. And make sure oil and commodities are traded in Euro.

  27. Barry Ritholtz commented on Nov 26

    Interesting debate last nite as to how heavy the promotions are —

    IMHO, they seem to be very heavy and very early. Some in our group thought they were only modest.

    Any thoughts?

  28. NotAPro commented on Nov 27

    Actually did some x-mas shopping on Saturday. I already own a plasma TV, and hell they’d never put the one I have on sale anyway. :)

    I would agree that the pricing has been quite aggressive. Picked up a nice lamb skin jacket for $178, which I thought was a decent price, buttery soft leather. Went into a few Body Shop/BBB stores. Everything seemed to be greatly over priced…but maybe that is generally the case for cosmetic products.

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