Black Friday madness

By Neda Hamdan

I walk into the Millenia Mall at 5 a.m., maneuvering my way around countless customers scrambling to shop. Wearing my shirt specially designed for Black Friday by Pacsun, I walk into the store to prepare for the mob standing behind our glass doors, waiting for us to open at 6 a.m. We discuss strategies on how to handle and control the customers as much as possible, though it seems easier in words rather than actions.

I was unlucky enough to be chosen to be in charge of the fitting rooms. The job entails not only putting customers into the fitting rooms, but to regularly check on them, get different sizes, colors, or styles of the clothes that they’ve tried on, and even make suggestions; anything to get the customer to buy more clothes than they anticipated.

“I’m excited to work my first Black Friday,” said Haley Morris, a sales associate at Pacsun. This is also her first time not shopping on Black Friday as she used to every year. “I just have to make sure I’m prepared.”

Attempting to walk to the other side of the store under thirty seconds was nearly impossible. The store is not very big, and with the cash registers in the middle of the store, it creates a long line wrapping around the clothes and other areas of the store. I learned how to squeeze between people instead of hoping they’ll move out of the way, realizing that the customers weren’t going to be that generous.

The store manager, Suzy Durre, has been in retail for ten years, and this was her ninth Black Friday. Her outlook on the biggest day of a retail store’s year was positive. “I think it’s fun,” she said. “It can be busy, but I don’t mind working it.”

Durre recounted a Black Friday when all the cash registers at her store crashed, forcing the staff to use manual slips to complete transactions. Many angry customers, frustrated by the circumstance, left the store. “It was the most difficult thing to do, not knowing when the registers were going to start working or if they were going to start working at all.”

Throughout my shift I had encountered all types of customers, and I could easily pinpoint the impatient ones since each customers’ patience was tested when they had to wait in a line for a long time or if we were out of stock of an item they wanted. Most were kind, and we had enough fitting rooms where the line was not long (or maybe it was my top notch skills.)

I was able to talk to a lot of customers, asking about their opinion of Black Friday and whether they’d do it again. Most claimed they would not come back, but I’m sure when the next Black Friday rolls around they’ll be waiting for the doors to open. They were also eager to share their tips and tricks for a successful haul.

“What I usually do is come to the stores a couple days in advance and see what I like and put them on hold for black friday,” said Macy Gray, a veteran Black Friday shopper. “I don’t have to go looking and I can just jump in line.”

I was too exhausted, physically and mentally, by my shift to do any shopping of my own. I refused to look at another store or stand in line, and the last thing I wanted to see was another fitting room.