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Early Birds Get the Camcorder

November 29, 2003|William Wan | Times Staff Writer

Best Buy presented Rebecca Arzate with a challenge she couldn't refuse: how to get hold of one of only 10 Samsung Hi8 camcorders going on sale for $129.99 when the consumer electronics store opened at 6 a.m. Friday.

So Arzate devised a plan: She scouted out the Porter Ranch store a few days ahead, drew a map, set her alarm for 4 a.m. and recruited a small army of family to help.

There were her teenage son and daughter, and two nephews for sheer numbers. Even her 55-year-old mother came along to park the car while everyone else made a dash for the line outside an hour before the doors swung open.

Still, the Arzates stood far from the head of the line that stretched 500 people long. "It looks pretty bad right now," Arzate said to her 14-year-old daughter, Vanessa. "We came all ready this year too."

Just then a Best Buy representative walked down the line handing out tickets for customers to reserve the most popular items. Without missing a beat, Arzate requested one for the Samsung camcorder.

Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy Co. usually offers eye-popping post-Thanksgiving "door-buster" sales, and this year was no different. In addition to the camcorder special, Best Buy offered early-bird deals at all of its locations on DVD players for $19.99 and 27-inch RCA televisions for $149.99.

At some Southern California locations, customers waited for 90 minutes before reaching a cashier.

That's why Arzate was a woman with a plan.

Three hours after entering the store, Arzate and her brood emerged victorious, weighed down by a load totaling $750 -- $250 short of the family's annual holiday budget.

Among their nettings: a $19.99 DVD player, two PlayStation games for $49.99 each, a $19.99 two-way radio, a five-speaker home theater system for $69.99 and the discounted camcorder, which normally sells for $229.99.

The camcorder is to record video of Arzate's youngest son, Danny.

"He's 4 years old and just learned the Pledge of Allegiance," she said.

"He says it so perfect that I have to get it on video. That kind of thing is worth the money."

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