The early bird gets the discount

Bargain-hunters make a dash for deeply discounted items at the Wal-Mart and Target stores in Union, N.J.

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By Keisha Lamothe, staff writer

Bargain-hunters were ready to shop at the Wal-Mart in Union, N.J., after the doors opened at 5 a.m.
Caution tape was placed around a door after one shopper broke it while trying to push through a mob of people.
Cars quickly filled up the parking lot at the Target in Union, N.J.

UNION, N.J.( -- Even though the sun was hours away from rising, bargain-hunters at a Wal-Mart store in Union were fully awake and ready to shop.

Wal-Mart employees patiently waited inside of the store, looking out to the mob of shoppers who eagerly awaited for its 5 a.m. opening.

"Let's go!," one shopper shouted at the employees, minutes away from the store's opening.

As soon as the clock hit the hour, shoppers clamored in excitement and rushed through the doors. The line that once wrapped around the store, suddenly turned into a disorganized array of people trying to squeeze through.

"There are so many people," shouted another shopper. "It's the same every year."

Others decided to jump out of the line and run toward the door. At one point, the line stopped moving because so many people were trying to go inside at once. This discouraged some shoppers from even entering the store.

"This is ridiculous," said one bargain-hunter. "It's not worth it. I'm not going to walk through that. I'll just come back later."

One anxious shopper even broke the sliding door and cracked the glass at the entrance as he pounded through.

Although Wal-Mart's crowd seemed smaller than last year's, the crowd was still massive. The sale lasted between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., but only the earliest shoppers could get their hands on door-buster items, which were gone within minutes of the store opening.

"We need more! Stock 'em up," shouted one angry shopper who went toward the electronics area to find out that there were no more printers in the aisle.

Roger Teixeria, a bargain-hunter on the prowl for a flat-screen TV, was disappointed when he finally reached the electronics area.

"There was absolutely nothing by the time I got in," Teixeria said. "This is not exactly my scenery," he said as he looked down at his shoes, which were scuffed by people who ran over him to get to the back of the store.

"I will never, ever do this again."

Within minutes of the store opening, customers picked up Polaroid 42-inch LCD TVs for $798 and Magnavox DVD/VHS players for $69. Other hot items included the a Dell computer set for $598, Bratz Passion 4 Fashion Makeover dolls for $10, and Emerson 19-inch LCD HDTVs for $198.

Not too far down the street, shoppers waited for Target's 6 a.m. opening. The line was a little more organized with help from Union police. Like the Wal-Mart shoppers, bargain-hunters ran straight toward the electronics area after the store opened.

Many shouted for the Guitar Hero III game set, at $85 each, while others waited to get their hands on a Sony PlayStation Portable, which came with five free PSP movies. Other items stacked in shopping carts included a Trutech 19-inch widescreen LCD HDTV with a built in DVD player for $199 and a Olevia 37-inch widescreen LCD HDTV, on sale for $549.

Unlike Wal-Mart, the toy area was not too crowded. But customers still flocked to the area, grabbing Fisher Price Little Mommy Newborn Twin sets for $30. A few feet over, shoppers picked up Chefmate 12-cup coffee makers for $4.50 in the home appliances area.

Even though bargain-hunters may have sought different sale items at both stores, they all seemed to have similar thoughts of slushing through crowded areas - as many people could be heard saying, "This is crazy." To top of page

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