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Updated Nov 22, 2012 - 11:00 am

Rural big box stores could hold key to Black Friday bargains

Black Friday starts Thursday night, with shoppers lining up at malls and big box stores in the hopes of scoring a deal.

One way to beat the long lines may be to drive to a big box store in a small town, where there could be fewer customers.

Take Coolidge, for example. It's about an hour south of Phoenix. It's miles from Interstate 10, and out of the way for many people in the Phoenix area.

But it has a Wal-Mart.

"If you're there, and you're there early, you may avoid some lines and still find a bargain for a terrific price," said Arizona Retailers Association Executive Director Michelle Ahlmer.

And there are other Big Box stores that may be a bit out of the way, with fewer people waiting in line. There's a Target store near Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek.

Best Buy shoppers in the northwest valley may think they have to head to Arrowhead Mall. But do they know about the store at Happy Valley Road and Lake Pleasant Parkway near Lake Pleasant?

Ahlmer said there could be a drawback to heading to the Big Box in a rural area.

"The selection may not be as great," said Ahlmer. "The stores that are in areas with a larger concentration of people tend to stock a larger supply of merchandise."

But, she notes, many times when a store is out of something, they may offer a rain check.

Ahlmer jokes that this story may have blown your small town plans.

"You've let the secret out. If this is on, all of those remote area stores will be sold out," she said as she laughed.

She said that this story could send some heavy traffic south on Arizona 87 heading for Coolidge in the hopes of finding a bargain.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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