A new 4-gigabyte Apple iPod nano sells for $149 at the Best Buy store in Victorville. A group of customers in Hesperia are spending two nights outside in the chilly High Desert night hoping to shave $148 off that price.

To promote the grand opening of their new store at the intersection of Topaz Avenue and Main Street, the 99 Cents Only discount store is giving away nine iPod nanos to the first nine customers at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning.

But there's a catch: They have to be the first ones in line in the morning, and the line started at 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, when Paul Arvizu arrived.

"I came, there was no one in line, so I stayed to get it for my kids," he said Wednesday afternoon. "I want to go home, but I can't, because I have too many hours into it."

And a line of people behind him, ready to take his spot -- and his iPod.

By Wednesday afternoon, a line of people in chairs, bundled up in coats and blankets, stretched along the front of the Shops at Topaz shopping center, playing bingo to pass the time.

Picking up the bargain-priced electronic for a child -- no one under 18 was allowed to wait out in line, according to store policy -- was a common theme among those planning to camp out for two nights in a row.

"They're worth it," Jim Gorman, who was number three in line, said of his twin 15-year-old sons. "They'll just owe me big time."

"I took off from work," said Marquette Henry, number two in line, who had driven in from Watts for the chance to buy an iPod for less than a dollar for his 7-year-old son. "They told me I was crazy."

"I'm retired, I didn't lie to anybody" at work, said Tena Magee between calling out bingo numbers. She was number six in line as of Wednesday afternoon.

Several of those previously waiting had been disqualified for leaving their space in line -- those waiting are allowed 15-minute bathroom breaks with permission. Others had refused to wait in line at all.

"When they find out they have to stay, they say forget it," said Judy Molina, number seven in line. "I never owned an iPod ever. I'm just doing it for the experience."

The next 99 customers after the initial nine -- and fewer than a dozen were in line after the initial nine on Wednesday afternoon -- will be offered the chance to buy a kick scooter for 99 cents.

"I came here for the iPod," said Jessica Schneider, number 10 in line. She got in line at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 33 and a half hours before the iPods would go on sale. "If I don't get the iPod, I'll wrap [the scooter] up for Christmas for my daughter."

She didn't think she had great odds of ending up in the first nine by morning.

"Everyone's pretty stable," she said. "It doesn't matter either way. I've had fun."

No matter what, Stephanie Rojas, the 15-year-old daughter of number 11, Anna Rojas, would be getting an iPod nano for her birthday on Thursday.

"This would be her birthday present," Rojas said. If she doesn't move up two spots by morning, she'll be heading to Victorville with her credit card, after two nights of sleeping on a sidewalk in Hesperia.

But despite the deprivation, most of those in line at the strip mall seemed in good spirits.

"I have five kids," Molina said. "I'm used to missing sleep."

"We're a family here now," Arvizu said. "We've come together as one."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.