Black Friday ‘chaotic,’ shopper says

Published 8:05 am Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday got off to a Thursday start with Wal-Mart’s door buster-type sale from 10 p.m. to midnight.

The parking lot was filled to overflowing as shoppers waited anxiously to get the biggest bang for their bucks.

“I was there but I really just went to see people that I hadn’t seen in a long time,” Calvin Griffin said, with a smile. “I knew most everybody would be a Wal-Mart to get in on all the sales.”

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Griffin said he didn’t do much shopping but he was one of the very few who weren’t rushing and pushing to get the big deals.

“It was chaotic,” he said. “It was outrageous really. Even back in the sheets and towels it was a madhouse. And I couldn’t believe that people where pushing and shoving to get one of those nut choppers that were two dollars. It was fun and interesting to watch.”

If Calvin had been over in electronics instead of watching, he might have been able to nab one of those 32-inch TVs that his mom, Mary Griffin, wanted so badly.

Mary Griffin was at Wal-Mart Friday morning, and “There goes the man with my TV,” she said, as a man pushed a 32-inch TV toward the checkout but in earshot of her.

“I was going to get it and I saw him bend over and I knew he was going to buy my TV,” she said, sadly. “If I had just come in the food side of the store instead of the other side, I would have my TV.”

The pallet in the middle of the store where the TVs were stacked was completely empty.

“You don’t see that often,” said a disappointed young man who was in the same boat with Griffin.

But, it’s Christmas and the spirit of the season often prevails.

The heart of the man who “had Mary Griffin’s TV” suddenly grew two sizes. He willingly relinquished his claim to the 32-inch television and helped her load it in her shopping cart.

“Now you have it and I don’t,” said the man who only identified himself as John from Dothan.

All’s well that ends well and Ronnie Johnson, Wal-Mart assistant manager, said that Wal-Mart’s “annual event” also ended well.

“This year’s annual event was a success. It was held from 10 p.m. until midnight instead of from midnight until 4 a.m.,” he said. “That way shoppers didn’t have to get up so early. It worked well.”

By noon Friday, things had quieted down but shoppers were moving in and out at a steady pace.

Johnson said business should be brisk during the Christmas season.

“At Wal-Mart, we have sales constantly,” he said. “Right now, it’s toys and electronics that everybody seems to want.”

The crowds at the Troy store mimicked what national retailers were reporting.

Early signs point to bigger crowds at the nation’s malls and stores as retailers like Target and Macy’s opened their doors at midnight on the most anticipated shopping day of the year and a few others opened on Thanksgiving Day. Shoppers were mostly peaceful across the country, but a few violent incidents broke out as millions of shoppers rushed into stores and tensions flared.

It started on Thanksgiving, when Los Angeles authorities say 20 people at a local Walmart store suffered minor injuries when a woman used pepper spray to gain a “competitive” shopping advantage shortly after the store opened.

Then, early Friday in Fayetteville, N.C., gunfire erupted at Cross Creek Mall and police say they’re looking for the two suspects involved. Separately, police say two women have been injured and a man charged after a fight broke out at an upstate New York Walmart. And a central Florida man is behind bars after a fight broke out at a jewelry counter in Walmart in Kissimmee, Fla.

For three days starting on Black Friday, 152 million people are expected shop, up about 10 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.


The crowds are good news for retailers, many of which depend on the busy holiday shopping season for up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. To draw in shoppers this year, they pulled out of their bag of tricks. In addition to several retailers opening much earlier than previous years, some began offering to match the prices of competitors and rolling out layaway programs.