A line of people wait for Toys R Us to open on Thanksgiving evening in Medford. - Julia Moore

Shoppers line up for black Thursday in Medford

Forget Black Friday, the truly bargain-hungry consumers were lined up during dinnertime on Thanksgiving Day for a first grab at low-priced items.

Miguel Ortiz set up his tent in front of Medford's Best Buy on Tuesday at 9 a.m. to ensure he would get what he came for.

Ortiz, 15, ditched class at North Medford High School so that he could be first in line at the store for the second year in a row, he said, with a signed excused-absence slip of course.

Black Friday, today, marks the day when retail businesses are supposed to go "in the black" for the year — that is, finally make a profit during the holiday shopping season.

Ortiz had a few gifts to scratch off his list, he said, but he was there for mostly a different purpose — making money.

Ortiz's strategy is simple: buy cheap and sell the items back to consumers on Craigslist at a just-below average price.

This year, $170 32-inch flat-screen Insignia TVs are his go-to item — he planned to walk out with three, and hoped to net $500 after selling them online.

"I'll get a couple TVs, a laptop, probably some Xbox games, I think a Kindle and a stereo for my car," said Ortiz, who has been saving money since last summer. "They sell quick."

Ortiz's high school friend Max Rumble, 15, showed up at noon on Tuesday, he said, and he slept there until the store opened at 6 p.m. Thursday as well.

"I miss all the good food," said Rumble, who was waiting anxiously for a D700 Nikon camera package, which had a $1,000 price reduction for the special opening.

"It's going to be worth it," said Rumble, who was also planning to purchase a few Insignia flat screens to sell, and a GoPro camera for his friend.

The worst part about camping out on a sidewalk for two nights and two days is "not being able to shower," he said.

"One of us can leave and go get lunch ... or charge our phone," Rumble said, but for the most part they were stuck at the front of the line for the entire two days.

For Ortiz, kicked back in a camp-style recliner beneath a shade tent, this year was balmy compared to last year, when it rained on him for two days, he said.

"I'll be first again next year," Ortiz said.

About 60 people down the line, 41-year-old Jeremy Hunsley, of Medford, arrived at about 3 p.m.

"I always find something down here for people on my list ... I had an empty house, so why not," Hunsley said. "I am just gift shopping. I ain't here to make money."

Hunsley said he's been participating in Black Friday sales for about four years, because it saves him big bucks when he's buying gifts.

"I get my electronic gifts here .. I'll go over to Target to get a comforter set for my daughter later tonight," he said.

Target opened its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

"The fourth quarter for our type of business is an important time of the year," said Chris Langl, who has managed Medford's Best Buy for three years. "We're happy to do it for the customers and we're happy they are here."

Langl said Medford's Best Buy has never had to kick anyone out of the store for being rowdy during the Black Friday rush, but no running is allowed and people are let in slowly and in an orderly fashion, ensuring those first in line get first choice.

An hour before the store opened, there were about 120 people waiting in line.

Across town, the first person in line at Toys "R" Us was Justyn Frazier, of Maricopa, Ariz., who had recently returned to Medford from a pair of military deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

Fraizer was there to save money on the video game "Skylanders: Swap Force," a gift for his 4-year-old son, he said, and was headed back to Arizona in a few days.

About 75 people stood behind Fraizer 15 minutes before the store's opening at 5 p.m.

"I had a turkey sandwich and figured I would just come down here early," he said. "I didn't have anything else to do, no family here. ... It's about getting him a Christmas present, that's it."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter @MTwriter_swhlr.

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