GRESHAM, Ore. --A red tent covered by a blue tarp stands first in line outside the Gresham Best Buy store. Inside is a commercial painter named Mike O’Brien.
He’s taking a few weeks off during his slow season and is camping here to get first shot at Black Friday deals offered by the store. He’s as surprised as anyone.
“Yeah. I was probably one of those guys about three four five years ago thinking man, that is crazy!” he said with a laugh. “But next thing I know I’m doing it!” he said.
O’Brien plans to buy a 42” flat screen TV for his family along with two computers. His camping mission got a spark three years ago when he narrowly missed the deep discount coupons given out by the store at midnight. He vowed it would not happen again. This year he began camping outside the store Monday morning.
Best Buy moved in port a potties Tuesday night.
“Its kinda nice just to hang out and I got no responsibilities here but just to sleep and occupy---you know---keep my space here,” O’Brien said. “Ha! No garbage to take out. No laundry, no dishes, no cooking. So I’m not complaining!" he said.
The store manager lets O’Brien charge his lap top during the day so he can watch movies on it at night. He also hangs out inside the tent and reads. His current book is “The Big Book” from Alcoholics Anonymous. O’Brien stopped drinking 50 days ago.
A half dozen other campers have since joined O’Brien in his black Friday vigil---his wife Twyla is here too.
“Well, I thought Monday was a little soon,” she said.
Twyla is a pharmacy technician for Kaiser. She joined the camp out Tuesday night. Her co-workers teased her.
“I said yeah my husband's up there already and they're like---sleeping on the concrete? And I’m like, well---he has a tent. And they're like---it’s a week! I'm like---well?" she said.
She laughs but she does not care what others think. Her husband is changing his life and their 22 year marriage is stronger than ever. They're smiling and laughing and waiting for Black Friday. “He is a good guy,” she said with a smile. “Wouldn’t have stuck around for 20-some years if he wasn’t!" she said.
Inside the Best Buy store shoppers are already buying products. Outside on the sidewalk Mike O’Brien and his wife Twyla will wait. They're together for the long haul--confident it will be worth it.