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Some people really enjoy the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. Others, not so much. In this photo from Thanksgiving last year, Kelli Flory, of Clearwater, pulled two carts full of gifts for her three kids at Toys R Us on Tyrone Boulevard on Thanksgiving Day. MONICA HERNDON | TIMESTampa Bay Times

Some people really enjoy the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. Others, not so much. In this photo from Thanksgiving last year, Kelli Flory, of Clearwater, pulled two carts full of gifts for her three kids at Toys R Us on Tyrone Boulevard on Thanksgiving Day. MONICA HERNDON | TIMES

I've never been a Black Friday shopper, though I've reaped the benefits of those doorbuster deals for years.

My mom is the queen of finding a good deal. Remember the shopping craze behind the Furby? Yeah, my mom elbowed her way through the crowded stores that year to make sure my brother and I each had one under the tree. When all she found was empty shelves in Toys "R" Us, Walmart and Target, she bought the creepy electronic toys off a guy who was selling them at a marked up price in the mall parking lot. (Remember, these were the days before eBay.)

A few years later she was out at the crack of dawn to get my brother an Xbox. In high school, I remember going with her to Circuit City to get our family's first flat-screen TV. When I walked into the store with her, I was quickly swallowed by the mass of people trying to squeeze their way in, so I retreated. I slept in the car until she had somehow managed to crawl out with the TV in her cart.

"Flat-screens were so expensive back when they first came out, " my mom said when I called her to talk about her Black Friday exploits this week. "That was the only way to get one at a good price."

As a reporter, I've written about Black Friday for three different newspapers in Florida. This is my fourth year going to the malls, interviewing die-hard shoppers who camp out in front of stores with their family and friends, and those who come up with calculated plans to hit five or more stores in one night. It takes a certain kind of shopper to truly appreciate the experience and sense of adventure Black Friday has to offer. It's definitely not for the faint of heart.

There are a lot of people out there who don't get it. They advocate for stores to stay closed and for families to spend time together instead. For a long time, I was on that bandwagon. I hate the long lines and the crowded parking lots, and I'm not even there to shop.

But with more than 135.8 million people planning to shop in some way over the holiday weekend, Black Friday is clearly still relevant. The people I interview who shop on Black Friday — when it's cold or it's raining, when there are long lines or it's a really awful hour in the morning — are happy to be there. Most of the time, they're with family. No one complains. They're usually excited to get that gift they picked out for their husband or girlfriend or daughter.

"I knew you wanted one, so I wanted to get it for you."

That's what my mom told me, when I asked her why she went to such lengths to get me a stupid Furby.

Shoppers, snap it and share it

Are you planning to shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday?

If you head out either day to shop, please snap photos of anything interesting or funny and post them on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TampaBayShops.

For instance, if you happen to use your phone to record a fight over flat-screen TVs, or take a photo of a creepy holiday mannequin, or notice long lines or great deals that you think people would find helpful, or see anything else funny or interesting, share it with that #TampaBayShops hashtag and it will pull into a special live report you can find at

Then follow along and see what other Tampa Bay shoppers and Tampa Bay Times reporters covering holiday shopping are saying and photographing. We promise it will be good, snarky fun.

The live report will be up at tampabay.com all week and weekend long.

Black Friday week store opening hours

Today

8 a.m.: RadioShack

3 p.m.: JCPenney

4 p.m.: hhgregg, Old Navy

5 p.m.: Toys "R" Us, Best Buy

6 p.m.: Walmart, Target, Sears, Kohl's, Macy's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Bealls, Sports Authority, Five Below, Tampa Premium Outlets, Tyrone Square Mall

7 p.m.: Kmart

Black Friday

5 a.m.: Westfield Brandon mall, Westfield Citrus Park, Westfield Countryside, Lowe's, GameStop

6 a.m.: Staples, Bed Bath & Beyond, Tyrone Square Mall

7 a.m.: Sam's Club, Big Lots, BJ's Wholesale

8 a.m.: Nordstrom (some stores open later), Best Buy (reopens), the Shops at Wiregrass

9 a.m.: Costco Wholesale

From the trenches of Black Friday: Furbies, flat-screens and falling asleep in the car 11/25/15
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2016 Tampa Bay Times


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