---- — SALEM, N.H. — It was Gina Ortiz’ birthday yesterday and she spent it standing in line for more than six hours with her daughter at Toys R Us.
“It’s a tradition that I’m passing on to my daughter,” said Ortiz, of Haverhill, who turned 33. “I’ve been coming with my mother since I was 8.”
Ortiz’ daughter Hailey Price, 10, agreed. “The best part of it is being with my mom,” said Hailey.
The two were at the store to buy a remote control car for her 5-year-old brother Connor, an iPod Touch and some other toys.
They were among the thousands who waited in 43 degree weather last night for the store’s 8 o’clock opening, to take advantage of doorbusters, deals and sales.
Instead of waiting until tomorrow, better known as Black Friday, many stores like Toys R Us decided to open on Thanksgiving to give eager shoppers extra time. The toy store opened an hour earlier than last year, while Target opened three hours earlier. Sears, which did not open on Thanksgiving in 2011, did so yesterday and will remain open until 10 p.m. tonight.
“If you’re going to save hundreds of dollars on an item, waiting in the cold is very much worth it,” said Kevin Campbell of Lawrence, whose main priority was getting a Wii game console along with some video games.
Many of those waiting in line were also looking for video games — as well as LEGOs, a Power Wheels Escalade and a Wii U.
Linda Coupal of Lowell, who was at the beginning of the line kept a close eye on the time announcing how many minutes were left. She arrived at 1 p.m. with four other family members and friends.
Coupal said she has become friendly with other shoppers whom she sees only on Black Friday. They bring each other coffee and save their spots in line when they have to go to the bathroom.
“We don’t know their names, but we see each other every year and that’s what makes it fun,” she said. “We save a buck and help each other doing it. I have six grandchildren. I can’t afford not to be here,” Coupal said.
Many of the people in line had the store’s circular marked with the toys they wanted. Many of the shoppers traveled from cities and towns in Massachusetts including Dracut, Tewksbury, Stoneham, North Reading and Burlington, to save on the sales tax.
Diane and Scott Patnode of Haverhill saved $150 after purchasing toys for their three children ages 13, 10 and 5. Toys R Us was the first stop on their Black Friday shopping spree that will end today.
“It’s better this way because we can just enjoy the holidays,” Scott Patnode said.