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Black Friday — A Retail Employee's First Go

"It was big."

It was well before midnight on “Black Friday,” and the parking lot of the store where I work part-time appeared stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey. People were driving around looking for parking spaces and the line of shoppers waiting to get in stretched along the sidewalk.

Inside, employees were lined up as well, ready to punch in at the time clock. The store had been well-stocked before the rush so customers could get the items they wanted.

Full disclosure — I am not a Black Friday shopper. I try to get my Christmas shopping done early so I can hit the stores at a leisurely pace and not have to work my way through crowds and lines. But I have the utmost respect for those motivated shoppers who plan their attack, get up early or stay up late, and get the best deals on their holiday shopping for their family and friends.

This year, I experienced Black Friday firsthand as retail employee. The store where I work opened at midnight, and many of us were there at 11:45 p.m. to get ready to meet the Black Friday shoppers. I was excited about getting paid to stay up all night (a "night owl's" dream, really!), and I knew there would be plenty to do.

It’s a very important day in the retail world, and the store manager met with the team before we dispersed. When the doors opened shoppers hurried past, smiling sleepily in some cases and rushing along to pre-planned destinations in others. Some wore their pajamas, and a few appeared very tired.

People were amazingly patient in light of the busy conditions. They had a sense of humor and shared their stories about where they were going and how long they’d been out.

Some friends said they’d shopped, slept for a few hours and then returned to their Black Friday bargain hunting. Others told of where else they were headed, and many said they’d gotten their holiday shopping done. Some shoppers were Canadians who visited to look for bargains.

It was impressive how much money some people saved; many really knew what they what they were looking for. Friends and family members helped each other carry things, reminded one another of coupons and discounts, and went out the door happy in most cases.

All in all, it was a positive experience for me to be working in a store on Black Friday. But like many of my customers late last night and early today, I am now about to fall asleep!

John McKay November 23, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Great experience, Anna! I remember working at a big-box retailer while I was in college and having my first full week be Black Friday week. It was definitely an experience!
Anna Troppens November 23, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Talk about hitting the ground running! I've been working at the store for a couple of months now, so it wasn't that drastic for me. Black Friday is really something to see, though!

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