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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 KTAR.com, 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.

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