The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Black Friday pretty civil

Black Friday: two simple, appropriate words that are dreaded by cashiers and retail workers across the nation every year. This post-Thanksgiving tradition is notorious for being the one day out of the year where waking up at 3 a.m. to go shopping is considered totally normal. Prices and temperatures are low, but motivation from shoppers to get the best deals possible for Christmas are undeniably high.

This infamous day has been portrayed by the media as nothing short of chaotic. The 1996 holiday film, “Jingle All The Way,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sindbad, features a scene inside the Mall of America on Black Friday where an animalistic crowd of parents wrestle and trudge through one another in a desperate attempt to find a Turbo-Man doll, the year’s hottest toy.

A real example of this supposed madness occurred last year, when Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death as the doors to a Long Island Wal-Mart opened in the early morning following Thanksgiving.

According to columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah from the Kansas City Star, the group of shoppers charged into the store in a fashion similar to that of a defensive rush during a football game, apparently disregarding Damour as he fell onto the ground, helpless.

Despite hearing many horror stories from the news and other Black Friday veterans, I decided to explore the day for myself – something interesting would be sure to happen. Plus, a good deal on DVDs never hurt anyone.

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Fueled by caffeine, I arrived at the Fox River Mall in Appleton, Wis., at around 5:45 a.m. To no surprise, the parking lots were completely full. I was surprised, however, to see that a line was already forming outside of Target. After entering the doors, I realized that there were several lines which wrapped around the entire store – after a complete circle of the store, the lines preceded outside and along the edges of the parking lot. Not bad, considering the sun had barely begun to rise.

The rest of the mall was crowded as well. From every corner imaginable, people of all ages flocked in their own directions – some were briskly walking with bags and lists, while others congregated together and formed a shopping strategy.

Almost every garbage can was overflowing with empty Starbucks cups.

I noticed a group of bright-eyed women, donned in reindeer antlers, red noses and walkie-talkies having what appeared to be a team meeting next to a cell phone kiosk. Each woman was wearing a fluorescent green t-shirt that read, “Sexy Six Shopping Squad.”

There were lines for stores, restaurants, bathrooms and escalators. Even the door to exit the mall had a line. I occasionally had to scale the wall to clear room for shoppers who were sprinting, bags in hand, from store to store.

No item seemed undesirable – even the weapon section of Scheels held an impressive line of eager hunters.

Aside from the mass amounts of shoppers, there was not quite as much hostility as I had been expecting. Sure, there was the occasional shove or dirty look from someone who was in a hurry. But overall, it was a relatively controlled atmosphere.

I was disappointed, however, in the lack of deals I came across. Had I been devoted and camped outside, I may have been able to witness the doors opening and taken advantage of underpriced items while they were still plentiful – from what I could tell, the majority of the discounted items were completely gone by 6 a.m.

By the time 8 a.m. rolled around, the halls had become less crowded. The early risers had gotten their deals, and were either out to breakfast or going back to bed.

Although my quest to find a good deal proved unsuccessful, it was still interesting to experience one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Admittedly, the Black Friday I ventured into was mild compared to what I was expecting. Rather than witnessing bloodshed, I only witnessed large crowds and creative shoppers. If I ever try this again, however, I’ll be sure to set my alarm a few hours earlier.

Larson is a senior public relations major and a guest columnist for The Spectator.

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Black Friday pretty civil