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Black Friday: A Firsthand Experience

By Amanda Webster

I have kept a retail job since I was 17 at a well known chain store, Old Navy. Since becoming a full-time college student I only work my retail job over breaks and holidays when I have the extra time.

After working retail during the holiday season for four years I know that the mere mention of “Black Friday” can cause a feeling of dread to creep up on any individual who stands behind a register. However, if you enjoy working with your coworkers it helps make the day a touch less terrifying and at times can even be fun. For those of you who have never had the need to work during Black Friday here is a first hand account from an Old Navy sales associate on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Our store, like many others in the mall, opened its doors at midnight. As expected Old Navy had a line of people eagerly awaiting to shop the door buster sales before the doors were even open. The lucky first twenty or so people in line were given a free Wii-U game. I stopped in to check things out a little before 1 am and to give my coworkers some encouragment.

I just barely got through the doors. Our store became so crowded that my manager had to tell people to wait for others to exit before entering because it was a safety hazard. One woman passed out while waiting in the checkout line.

By noon the store was nowhere near as full, but the line of people waiting to purchase their five dollar fleece and marked down denim was always constant. I spent my first two hours ringing people out without missing a beat. By the time my four hour mark hit, the faces and products began to all blend together into one giant never ending transaction. The only thing that broke up the monotony was a coworker weilding a bull horn to hand out coupons for customers in line.

I was eventually asked to help recover the store. Women’s shirts and boots were carelessly thrown throughout the store and customers kept looking at me with eyes filled with pity. A few even apologized and said that they felt sorry for me. I have come to expect these remarks and always laugh them off. Old Navy’s top priority is customer service, so customers should never be made to feel like they are a burden or creating a problem for associates. For the record though, if you are shopping and go over to a table that an associate is folding and they ask if you need help they really just mean, “Please don’t ruin this, I just fixed it. Let me get you what you want.” Let us help you, seriously.

At my ten hour mark our store was finally closing. As the last customer left, shopping bags in hand, my coworkers and I looked around and could not help but laugh at the task in front of us. Piles of clothes needed folding and waited to be put back on the shelves and garbage was strewn about the store. I, along with my manager and one other associate, began what would turn into an almost two hour task of counting a cash deposit large enough to buy a new car.

Overall, I considered the day a success. No one was trampled, customers were for the most part polite, the store managed to close on time and I got to catch up with some coworkers while we spent hours folding clothes together. I know it could have been worse, I could always work at Wal-Mart.