Staff photographer Michael Orrell had his first Black Friday shopping experience last week. He gave me permission to share it with you.
I have never gone to a Black Friday sale at Walmart. I swore I never would get involved with that craziness. But by mid-afternoon on Thanksgiving Day we realized we needed a couple of items so we went early to avoid the crowd.
At 3:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the parking lot had maybe 50 cars.
I wandered around and kind of scoped out the place for the sale prices on the televisions. We had considered buying the 70-inch television with the price reduced $700 at 8 p.m. Thursday for the Black Friday sale. I liked the price. I didn’t like the idea of having to sit and wait for hours to get the sale price. An associate in the department said I would not have to sit that long. She said “if you are in line at 6 p.m., we will give you a wristband for the TV and you are guaranteed that price as long as you pay for it by 2 a.m. Meanwhile you can walk around and shop other places.”
I thought, to save $700, I can wait in line for a couple of hours.
My wife went home with the groceries. I got a coke and some chips, found a place to sit and made myself comfortable while I watched the other shoppers.
They had nine televisions and I was the third one in line. Eventually there were seven people in line to get a TV.
The store was quiet when I first sat down but as the time went along, it got louder and louder. Pretty soon it was really loud.
They had the main aisles lined with bins of the small, less expensive items. Folks gathered around the boxes of stuff they wanted. The associates directed them to move back, to get in line, to keep a fire line open.
I was sitting in line for a TV at 5:30 p.m. when I realized that there was no one in line for the I-Pads which were sold with a $100 gift certificate.
I wandered over to get a wristband for the I-Pad for the 6 p.m. sale. I was walking back to get in line to get a wristband for the TV when they said, “Okay, you can get the towels,” and that’s when it all broke loose. People were in the main aisles grabbing the heavily discounted stuff and just piling it in their buggies.
It was wild. I walked to the end of the aisle where they had washcloths on sale for $1.75. They were grabbing huge stacks of the towels and tossing them to other people. One elderly lady elbowed her way to the bin of washcloths.
I took out my phone and held it up to video tape the crazy people grabbing stacks of towels and tossing them to other people. They were really going after those $1.75 washcloths. I moved over and got a better view of an elderly lady putting a headlock on anyone who stepped in front of her to get washcloths.
Then I went over to get the wrist band for the TV.
So I had a wristband to purchase an I-Pad with a $100 gift certificate and a wristband to purchase a TV.
My wife came to get me. She drove through the parking lot and picked me up at the front of the store. She couldn’t park – the parking lot was full. Cars were parked on the grass, in the lot of the closed restaurant next door, the gas station and down the road in the parking lots of other businesses.
We went home, ate supper, and by 8:30 p.m., I went back in the store to pick up the items. By that time you could park in the main parking lot again
Washcloths and other Black Friday sales items were strewn throughout the store. Folks, who had grabbed all they could so someone else would not get it before them, suddenly realized “hey, I don’t need all this.” They had just left it wherever they were.
I bought the I-Pad and then used the gift certificate to pay on the television.
I went home and posted the video I had made of the shoppers grabbing washcloths.
A friend asked me to change the access to the posting of the video so she could share it with her friends. I changed it to public. By the next day it had over 600 shares and the video had gone viral as folks watched and laughed at the little elderly lady in purple digging into that bin to get washcloths.
Would I go to Black Friday again? Yes! Definitely.
To shop? No.
I just want to go and watch the show. It was fun. It was crazy. I’m definitely going back next year.
(As told to Joan Hershberger, a staff writer at the News-Times. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org)