Shoppers aren't really camping, according to local police

Since it is against city ordinance to camp out overnight in Medford, how come early shoppers are allowed to pitch tents on sidewalks outside stores and prepare meals and sleep?

— Larry S., Jacksonville

Medford police Chief Tim George said the Black Friday "campers" might be a fanatical bunch who will go to great lengths to save a couple bucks on an iPad, but they aren't breaking the law.

"The difference is these folks are not really camping," George said. "I know camping when I see it."

The Black Friday shoppers pitch their tents on private property, usually in front of a store or in a parking lot. The Medford city ordinance prohibits camping in publicly owned areas such as parks and sidewalks.

Now, if the owners of Best Buy wanted to call the police to have Black Friday shoppers removed from their property, the police would jump to action, George said.

"If the stores didn't want them waiting outside overnight, then we would remove them," George said. "But the stores want them there. It's good for their business."

A small tent city sprung up under Best Buy's sign on Highway 62 this week.

Some shoppers waited 21/2; days for the chance to take advantage of Black Friday electronics sales.

George said no issues were reported in Medford stores on Black Friday morning.

Several retailers throughout the country reported incidents of violence, as mobs of customers fought each other over deals.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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