LOS ANGELES, November 23, 2012 — Black Friday has become Black Thursday Night, as many stores opened up on Thanksgiving. Many shoppers made it to the stores long before the last bit of turkey was consumed and the football game had ended. At the Best Buy in West Los Angeles, the madness began at the stroke of midnight.
About 1,000 people of all religions and races camped outside in a line that stretched about three short blocks. The very first person in line was a young Hispanic nurse’s assistant from a Los Angeles suburb, Echo Park, named Yahaira Cabral. Next to her was a young Hispanic audio engineer named Robert Somoza. Originally from Brooklyn, he drove all the way from South-Central Los Angeles to the West side of the city for the specials. They had been in line since Monday night, a full 72 hours before the store opened for Black Friday sales.
While many items were being offered with deep discounts, Yahaira and Robert were there for televisions. 40 inch flat screens normally costing more than $400 were being sold for only $178.
To avoid violence and chaos, Best Buy took steps to all but guarantee an orderly situation. There was not going to be a stampede into the store. People were instructed to stay single file, and 25 people were allowed in at a time. This did not mean they all had to leave before the next batch entered. Within two minutes after midnight, 100 people were already in the store. Every person in line was in the store well before 1:00am. So while the wait before Midnight was agonizing for many, once the clock struck Friday, things moved rapidly.
There would be no racing to obtain desired items. Those standing in line the longest were given “tickets” guaranteeing them the right to certain discounts. Yahaira and Robert did not have to compete with others to get their televisions. There was no bait and switch. They were assured of getting what they wanted.
Kenny was only six years old, and his family had been waiting since Tuesday. At 11:40pm all he wanted was a bathroom. Yet the good little trooper made it to midnight inside the store. He wanted a drum set, and his grandmother was going to get it for him.
Not everyone was so lucky. A 49 year old man in a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap named Robert did not have the best Thanksgiving. His team lost to the Redskins earlier in the day, and he stood in line for six hours. He walks with a cane, and after finally getting inside, his shopping experience lasted about six minutes. The store was out of what he wanted.
While the main competition was for televisions and laptop computers, a group of young Orthodox Jewish UCLA students had other ideas. One of them made it clear that “College students don’t have time for television. It’s all about the laser printers.”
Muslim women in their traditional full body and face covering were able to balance their faith with their love of American shopping culture. Nothing in strict Islam forbids deep discounts on technology items, and they wanted new laptops.
Capitalism was taking place outside the store as well as inside. A young Hispanic woman nicknamed Shorty had several tickets, and she was attempting to sell them to people in the back of the line who otherwise would have zero chance of getting the best discounts. She figured selling the coupon tickets was worth more than the discounts themselves.
A young black man named Eric probably had the best move of the night. He showed up at 11:30pm. He knew he was going to get his television without even having to walk into the store. He paid one of his friends $50 to stand in line for him since Tuesday.
Eric was part of a crowd of about thirty to fifty people who had no intention of entering the store. Most of them were spectators, and they broke into cheers when the store opened.
The Best Buy team was well prepared, and their final team meeting minutes before the store opened seemed to inspire them for the long night ahead of them.
While the very first shoppers exited triumphantly with their merchandise with relative ease, most people were not so lucky. Only one register was open. Those who waited in line outside for hours would now be waiting inside the store to pay for their items in a line that stretched the equivalent of a couple blocks.
No system is perfect, but Best Buy in West Los Angeles kept the Black Friday shopping experience professional and safe.
Many people may ask if the experience is worth it, and the answer to that question is about as diverse as the people who took part and those who did not.
While Walmart was surrounded by controversy, Best Buy was a politics free zone. One woman wanted people to sign petitions to legalize marijuana and create pension reform, but she was largely ignored. There were no protesters, just shoppers.
As for me, my car battery died when I tried to go home. Best Buy was a warm place to stay sheltered while waiting, and AAA was able to find me quickly. As with the shoppers, there was some waiting involved, then relief when we could all finally get in our cars and go home.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS
Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at TYGRRRR EXPRESS
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