Black Friday becomes 'decades-old' tradition for two Gastonia men

For Grady Jackson, camping outside on Black Friday is a tradition going back 16 years.

“I’m getting my dad a TV for Christmas,” Jackson told FOX 46. “And I guess I’ll get some new headphones for myself.”

On Black Friday, bargain hunters bust down doors looking to score deals on deeply discounted items at the top of many holiday wish lists.

But this year is different.

Jackson and his friend set up a tent outside of Best Buy in Gastonia on Monday. By early afternoon on Thanksgiving, they were still the only two people in line behind a gray steel fence.

“It’s drastically changed over the last couple of years,” he said. “Usually, you would have to be here by Monday to even be in the top 20 to 30 people. And that’s when the best deals were.”

For Jackson and his best friend, waiting in a four-day line, that they are the only ones in, is about more than just bargain hunting.

Camping out on Black Friday has been a tradition for the duo, who say online shopping has killed the thrill of waiting days in line for a deal.

“It used to be lined up around the block but now it’s dwindling down,” Jackson said, who says in years past he made friends with other bargain hunters who braved the cold and skipped Thanksgiving dinner.

“People don’t want to do the cold,” he said. “It’s just part of [the experience] for us.”

More and more shoppers are finding Black Friday deals on their phones from the comfort of their living rooms. Many stores, like Best Buy, put their Black Friday deals online days ago.

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This weekend 165 million people are expected to shop, according to the National Retail Federation. About 25 percent are expected to shop on Thanksgiving.

For Jackson and his best friend, waiting in a four-day line, that they are the only ones in, is about more than just bargain hunting.

“We come out. He’s married with kids. I work six days a week. We don’t get as much time as we like to spend together,” he said. “We were in Boy Scouts together. So, we just like to make time to spend it together.”