LUTZ, Fla. - As the saying goes, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. For thousands this Black Friday, the destination was Tampa Premium Outlets in Lutz.
Shoppers had many different destinations. "Going to hit the Coach store in a little bit after the line hopefully dies down," said Jacqueline Serrano.
"I'm probably going to go to Vera Bradley," said Ally Postluthwaite.
But, before they could battle the crowds, they had to defeat the traffic. Coming from the south in the afternoon, it took about an hour just to get from the exit on Interstate to the outlets' entrance. "Thirty to 45 minutes," recalled Colin Mendoza.
"There were like, two hours of traffic from Clearwater area," said David Trung.
All that waiting gave them plenty of time to carefully consider their prospective purchases. Next was the quest for parking. The lots were jammed.
"Insane," Serrano said. "It took me like 20 minutes just to find a spot and circling and circling and just basically squeezed myself in a spot that I really didn't fit in."
Getting out of the parking lot around 6 p.m. took us an additional 40 minutes. According to management, the lots were even busier than last year, proof that this annual retail ruckus is alive and well.
"My best buy would be these Adidas Ultra Boosts right now," Mendoza said, showing off the shoes already on his feet. "I got them for only $80."
"I got some stuff for my mom," Trung said. "We got bags at Coach. That was the longest line."
"It said it was $600 with additional 70% off, so, $200," Trung added, showing off a new Coach backpack.
For some, Black Friday was a first.
"This is the first time, actually," Serrano said.
"This is like the first time I've ever gone," said Blake Caraway.
For others, it was a good deed.
"I typically enjoy the sanctuary of my own home. I'm only here because she wanted to come," Greg Burnett said, gesturing to his girlfriend.
Now, that's love. So, was the destination worth the journey?
"Now that I'm here, I enjoy it," Burnett said. "Everyone's pretty nice."
"It is what it is," Serrano said. "It's worth it for the holiday shopping and the discounts."