Cold shoppers seek hot toy deals

Toys R Us' flagship New York store draws a huge crowd looking for bargains on video games and Dora.

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By Catherine Clifford, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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Shoppers standing outside of the Toys R Us store in Times Square, New York City, waiting for the store to open at 5 a.m.
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The video game section of Toys R Us had a line wrapped around with customers waiting to pay nearly as soon as the store opened.
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Shoppers busy picking up smaller toys in the Black Friday morning rush.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The hot pursuit of discounted toys and video games kept lots of shoppers waiting in the cold, dark night on Black Friday.

Deals on a Playstation 2 combo, a $50 gift card to go with a black 16-gigabyte iPod nano, a half-priced talking Dora the Explorer and the newest Elmo doll were motivation enough to have excited shoppers bursting through the front door of Toys R Us in the heart of New York City.

The line outside of the flagship toy store in Times Square started forming at 9 p.m. ET Thursday night, eight hours before the store's doors opened at 5 a.m. Friday.

Ryan Bailey, 20, from New York City, was the first shopper in line at 9 p.m. Thursday night. She arrived at 1 a.m. last year for the doorbuster sale and the line was already very long.

After checking the sales online, Bailey had a shopping list included a Nintendo Wii, an Elmo doll and a pretend kitchen.

Preston Livingston, 44, from Bronx, N.Y., was the second in line. He arrived at 9:05 p.m., just after Bailey. Livingston said the reason he got in line so early was, "I want to get a good bargain, and I hope they don't run out."

In an effort to lure in shoppers, Toys R Us offered 150 doorbuster sales - 100 in a printed circular and an additional 50 which were announced online, said Toys R Us spokesman Bob Friedland.

The ads seemed to work. The line to get into the store was down the street and around the block by the time the doors opened.

Before 5:30 a.m., there was already a line wrapping around the downstairs video game section as customers waited to pay for their video games and gaming accessories.

Other popular items included the new Elmo Live, and the life-sized Dora doll, which was offered at 50% off at $59.99.

Most shoppers - regardless of what item they were looking to purchase - emphasized the fact that in the current economy, getting a good deal on presents for the family was essential.

"I am looking for more sales," said Ramona Duclerc, 30, of Bronx, N.Y., "I am not trying to buy less, just spend less. Kids don't understand about money or a lack thereof."

Duclerc said she knew about the bargains the toy store was offering because of ads in the newspaper and past experience.

Another doorbuster shopper said that the weak economy was going to mean fewer presents for her kids.

"I am not going to buy as much as I did last year," said Nikia Hall, 27, of Staten Island, N.Y. "They will still have a good Christmas, but they are going to notice."

Another shopper, however, said that the economic downturn was not hurting his holiday spending. The weak economy "did not affect anything," said Troy Williams, 26, of Manhattan. "I have been saving and doing things like that so it did not really affect me."

One shopper who attends the Toys R Us doorbuster sale every year said that the Black Friday discounts were a disappointment this year.

"The prices could have been a little better. They could have had more things 50% off instead of buy two, get one free," said Karey Glover, 25, of New York City.

The economic slowdown has Marlene Washington, 45, of Staten Island, N.Y., thinking more about paying down her debt and using coupons.

"I think everyone is being frugal. I am surprised to see some of the big-ticket items actually being bought," Washington said.  To top of page

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