Black Friday: Dispatch from the Front Lines

November 26th, 2010

Today was my first Black Friday experience working the other side of the register. Although, to be honest, my family never partook of the Black Friday shopping insanity so I don’t have much experience on either side. But today I worked a six hour shift at Borders and went into the day very curious to see what it would be like.

My verdict? Very busy, but not crazy. Borders offered some great coupons, advertised in a circular that reached all of Pittsburgh, but we didn’t have any limited-supply great deals (buy a TV the size of Jupiter for $12.94 — while supplies last!) or any incentives for early birds (first 100 customers get a gold-plated box of Pop Tarts!). The store opened two hours early, but that was still the civilized hour of 8am. None of this midnight madness nonsense.

Still, the registers were jammed all day long, and many of our shoppers were veterans of the Black Friday trenches. Interestingly, the ones who had been at it the longest were often the most chipper. I chatted for a few minutes mid-morning with a woman who had been going since midnight — she was smiling brightly and looking forward to a well-deserved lunch out at the end of her purchasing binge. These people seem to get a sort of athletic-competition-rush out of the aggressive shopping experience that is Black Friday.

The other nice thing at the store today, for the employees, was our store manager whipped up a batch of his famous curried butternut squash soup which simmered in the break room in a crock pot as a welcome treat for foot-weary cashiers and booksellers.

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