A Black Friday Tradition Two friends meet each year at Target

From left, Gregory Gonser, Vincent Chapa, and Vincent's father Justin outside Target. Photo by Travis M. Whitehead

HARLINGEN — Every year they meet at the same place at the same time.

And every year after they’ve raided Target for Black Friday deals, they bid their goodbyes and return to their lives.

They won’t see each other for another year, but Vincent Chapa and Gregory Gonser have grown accustomed to this annual routine.

After all, they’ve been meeting this way for three years.

“We talk about school, sports, every time we see each other,” said Gregory, 17, a senior at Harlingen High School.

“I work at Peter Piper, and one time I saw them and then no more,” Gregory said.

They might cross paths more often, but Vincent, 15, is a sophomore at La Feria High School.

“I have been here since Wednesday noon,” said Vincent nonchalantly. He’d stretched out on the bench that he’s come to know so well. His father came about 6 p.m. and set up a canopy, and when the weather became chilly they started up a heater.

Vincent got there at noon Wednesday because he wanted to beat Gregory, who’d beaten him to the first place slot last year.

“He had a goal,” said Vincent’s father Justin.

“We wanted bragging rights,” both boys chimed in.

Gregory drove up to Target about 20 minutes after Vincent arrived. As soon as he saw his old Black Friday buddy, he dashed home and got his tent. He soon returned and set up his station near the Target doors and his good friend Vincent.

The competition is, after all, friendly and congenial.

“We watch each other’s stuff,” Vincent said. “Whenever I talk to him it just feels natural. We just go on for hours.”

They share a common interest in sports. Vincent plays baseball and runs track, and Gregory plays football for the Cardinals.

And, oddly enough, they come for the same thing every year: TVs.

“We’re getting a 65-inch TV,” Vincent said. “That’s what we are coming for.”

“You can get them for half off,” Gregory said.

So, what will the future hold for this once a year friendship?

Gregory’s a senior, and he plans to become a Navy SEAL after graduation. Will he be home on leave next year at this same time to see his good friend Vincent?

“Hopefully,” he said with a grin.