Black Friday Shopping Mayhem Roundup

For some reason, Walmart and Toys R Us stores were the focal points of this year’s Black Friday mayhem nationwide. Perhaps because the chains offer both toys for children and toys for adults–electronic ones, at least. Fights and other oddities broke out here and there nationwide. However, shoppers and store employees survived the day with no deaths, major injuries, or significant property damage.

It’s kind of sad that that’s an accomplishment. God bless America!

34159717_991be2e9f4_t.jpgRancho Cucamonga, California: After at least one fight broke out near the electronics department around 4:00 A.M, Walmart store management called the police.

Reports differ on the question of whether the store was ever closed.

pallet.jpgUpland, California: Walmart threw customers out and shut down for nearly three hours after customers tried to break into shrink-wrapped pallets of merchandise and fights broke out. Customers yelled, screamed, and pounded on the doors during the three-hour period.

Manchester, Connecticut: Customers tried to jump the line and get through the doors of the Toys R Us store shortly before midnight. Police intervened, and the store opened an hour late.

1294425256_9d4e46c736_s.jpgAtlanta, Georgia: Two men were stabbed in the Gwinnett Place mall on Friday morning. The stabbings turned out to be gang-related, not a shopping dispute. Their injuries were not life-threatening.

Indianapolis, Castleton, and Greenwood, Indiana: Police were called to multple stores after shoving and fights broke out over the limited supply of Zhu Zhu Pets and other toys.

zhuzhu.jpgJantzen Beach, Oregon: Police called to help control the crowd outside a Toys R Us after shoving and other mayhem broke out.

taser.jpgMemphis, Tennessee: A group of late arrivals tried to rush the door at opening time, but were stopped. Members of the crowd went vigilante, threatening line-jumpers with Tasers and pepper spray.

tow_truck.jpgHouston, Texas: As customers waited in line at Best Buy late Thursday night, tow trucks began hauling their cars away. The drivers assumed the cars belonged to patrons of a nightclub across the street.

Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Walmart SuperCenter employees called police after a scuffle broke out over discounted GPS units.

(Thanks to Kyle, Tim, Crazytree, varro, and chrisholland03 for submitting tips for this post.)

(Photos: OldManMusings, Brave New Films, Adrian__, hermanturnip, DavidDennisPhotos.com, and Lovingier) Photography)

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  1. metsarethe... says:

    Reads like the old crime blotter in my college’s student run newspaper. I think it’d be cool to have something like this on a (bi)weeky basis.

  2. thanq says:

    We need to put some cheap electronics and Zhu Zhu pets on an arena and release people on command. Such a show would surely bit Greek olympics and Roman gladiators.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      sadly, the consumerist would need a lot more donations to be able to afford zhu zhu pets.

    • freshyill says:

      I wish I knew what those hamster toys were when the Toys R Us employees came through the line offering tickets for them. I probably could have made a pretty penny with one on Craigslist.

      Nah, I’m not that guy. Toy speculation is a dangerous game anyway.

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand the mob mentality that exists when it comes to Black Friday. There’s no sense in all of it. The last time we participated in Black Friday, we stood in a line of about 20 people, and we were all jovial and chatty, not upset with each other and angry.

    And the fact is, if you’re not one of the first 20 people in line, you’re not getting that GPS, TV, netbook, or anything in high demand. Same with the stupid Zhu Zhu hamsters. If it seems like you won’t get what you want (or get out alive), just walk away. Getting a $150 netbook is not worth the risk of your life. You can tell when people are starting to get upset and unruly, and you can tell when people are at an emotional and mental state in which they may incite dangerous behavior.

    When did people stop thinking with their instincts?

    • madanthony says:

      I haven’t done BF since ’06, but my experiences were the same – people in line talked, shared snacks and fliers, and otherwise were civil. But it only takes a few bad apples to start something – and I suspect that most of these were caused by the kind of people who get to the store 10 minutes before it opens and try to bum-rush the line of people who have been camped there since midnight…

    • coren says:

      I wish everyone who saw the 20 person line would give up – chances are not all of those 20 want everything, which means there’s a chance for me! Especially getting up at 8 or 9 or late rme, to swoop in and get exactly what I want with no fuss.

    • freshyill says:

      The problem isn’t the people waiting in line. As mentioned in this post, there’s people who wait until the doors open and then attempt to rush the doors. I can’t find it at the moment, but there’s a video from Best Buy (2006, I think), of a very long line entering in a relatively orderly fashion. Then, a bunch of people waiting in the parking lot start running toward the doors. And that’s when problems start.

      I saw it TWICE this year on Black Friday. First time was at Old Navy, where they had the free Lego Rock Band game with a $20 purchase. Several people, maybe 15 or so, started showing up in the lot, right across from the entrance about five minutes before the doors opened. They all rushed in when they did. One of them squeezed in, but the employee handing out the wrist bands for the game didn’t give her one. After we checked out (we were second in line to check out, and there really was no line yet since we were in and out so quick), I was waiting for my wife to use the restroom, and I saw one of the other women finally get in, near the very end of the line, which was nice to see her sent to the back.

      I saw it again at Kmart. Kmart seemed like a rougher crowd in general, and a couple of the line-rushers looked like they were pretty tweaked out on something. We got our buy two-get one Legos and got out.

  4. Paladin_11 says:

    And so the barbarians descend upon Rome…

    To paraphrase a great philosopher: This country needs an enema.

  5. phonic says:

    I’m confused. Here it says there were no major injuries or fatalities, but I read earlier how at a Walmart in NY (Long Island I believe) a Walmart Contract worker was trampled to death when they broke through the doors.

    Was that a BS story, or is the information above incomplete?

  6. Trai_Dep says:

    So, no reports of massive bloodletting in Manhattan, or did Starbucks decide not to have the Doorbuster Black Friday sale on Perfect Oatmeal that resulted in such tragic loss of life and below-the-knee maimings last year?

  7. Yankees368 says:

    Walmart in Westbury, NY (Long Island) had a fire that resulted in the closing of the store.

    http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/fire-strikes-westbury-walmart-but-no-injuries-reported-1.1626696

  8. djkatscan says:

    @phonic The trampling death of that Walmart employee was last year….which is why it’s been such a focus as of late.

  9. wickedpixel says:

    wow! i’ll get right on that. right after I finish flagging for review.

  10. Quinn says:

    Are black Friday riots the US version of soccer riots in other countries?

  11. Eldritch says:

    thght y wr bnnd lrdy.

  12. TechnoDestructo says:

    It’s the Hajj for Capitalism.

    And since we’re talking about Americans here, it’s also the Running of the Bulls.

  13. misterfweem says:

    So, when will the list of stores where everything went smoothly Friday morning coming out? Or would that make the Internet full?

  14. coren says:

    Wait, tow truck drivers were sneaky, dishonest and possibly broke the law?

    I for one am shocked.

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      They probably have a standing arrangement with the owners of the parking lot to tow cars that are parked there after business hours. What’s strange is that the tow truck drivers didn’t believe the people when they said they weren’t going to the club across the street. I don’t really go to clubs, but I don’t believe it’s typical to line up in front of a store across the street…

  15. Coles_Law says:

    Even stranger with the Upland store, when they finally reopened reports say everyone became quite civil.

  16. Bearcat44 says:

    Screw Zhu Zhu Pets; give ‘em a real hamster!

  17. Kevin8503 says:

    As a manager in retail, I have to say the highlight of my Black Friday Mayhem was mopping up pee in the fitting room fifteen minutes after we opened at 3am because of the ridiculously long line for the bathroom.

  18. soj4life says:

    Good job there tow jockeys. I am surprised no one shot these morons.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      Clearly, the line of customers at Best Buy was just a night club line in disguise.

    • Philthadelphian says:

      They’re usually carrying, so pulling a gun on them isn’t a good idea.

      I parked in an empty lot across the street from a CVS once to run in for cold medicine, and less than 5 minutes later my car had been towed because the driver had been hiding around the corner. (The CVS only had about 10 parking spots, and the business across the street, which was closed on weekends, had contracted with a towing company.) After he told me it would be $150 just to get my car back, I made some threatening remarks. He responded by lifting up his vest and showing me his piece. Clearly I wasn’t the first fake tough guy to get angry with him. I paid the $150.

      That said, there are some tow companies that really come in handy when you need them – dead batteries, busted tires, etc. And more often than not, the guys that drive those trucks are pretty cool. It’s the scum bags whose only source of income is stealing people’s cars from empty lots that you need to look out for.

  19. Ronin Democrat says:

    that’s “real America” for you.

    Meanwhile Liberal NYC and LA were caring enough to be with their families

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      WTF? Don’t even go there. On that list in the post is California and Connecticut. Don’t pull the political card. And lets not forget that “liberal” Long Island residents trampled to death a Wal-Mart worker last year.

  20. Torchwood says:

    I really love the mob mentality in what is essentially plastic baubles and such. Wise up people, you can get the same deals online. The low-low prices are prices to get you into the door, and then the retailers try to sell you something more expensive. Is your family life that terrible that you have to resort to substitutes?

    • freshyill says:

      There’s nobody selling a damn thing in the morning on Black Friday. It’s grab-and-go shopping.

      If you show up at 3 in the afternoon, after failing to read the parts about “limited quantities” in the circulars, then yeah, they’ll try to sell you something more expensive, because that’s what’s left. There’s nothing dishonest about it.

  21. freshyill says:

    Things seemed busy but overall, very orderly. Walmart was packed, especially in the electronics department, where everyone had a cart so they could move their TVs.

    For future reference, there is no excuse for every store that has people line up outside not to do what the Target in Dickson City, Pa. did:

    http://scrantontimes.com/news/battered_consumers_look_for_deals_on_black_friday

    Check the picture. They built a barrier out of shopping carts to prevent people from cutting into the line. Brilliant and probably effective.

    Also, cops help.

    • Oddfool says:

      My wife had done the whole ‘leave the house at 1AM to stand in line at Walmart’ a few years back, and had convinced me to come along a couple of times. We had worked at Walmart, and her sister still does. The store had done the same thing, with several rows of carts instead of just one. Great idea, but that did not stop a few line cutters from jumping in line where the line entered the blocked off area. Still, very civil overall with a few exceptions. But each year the crowds seem to get a little bit worse, so we stopped going.

      • freshyill says:

        Walmart, thankfully, had everyone inside this year. It might have looked like chaos, but there was quite a bit of order to it. They had a big sale a few weeks ago with Black Friday-caliber deals, that I think was mostly a test to see if this year’s procedures would work (I actually heard a manager say something to the effect of “this is what we’re doing on Black Friday this year”).

        Basically, you were in line for one big-ticket item. We were there for a $98 Nintendo DS, and we were in a line that snaked through the sporting goods department and ended at the gun desk in that counter, where we just had to tell them what color, and then they sent us on our way to pay in the front of the store. There were lots and lots of smaller deals throughout the store, and I could have picked something else up if I felt like dealing with the crowds.

        But if you just wanted your one big item, it was easy. Nobody was going on a mad dash to get to the cheapo $4 mixer, but I think a lot of people planned to grab a few things after they got the big thing. We were mainly concerned with paying and getting in line at Kmart once we got out.

  22. kaceetheconsumer says:

    Yay for celebrating baby Jesus!

    Gah.

    Seriously, how many of these freaks are the same people who stand in the way of gay marriage and adoption rights, stem cell research, teaching actual science in schools, etc? Because if you punch another person to buy a Christmas gift, you should be banned from using religion as a debate point from then on. Having seen two mothers fighting over Veggie Tales DVDs in Costco once, I am at my wits’ end with this crap.

    And really glad we stayed home.

    • DanFromDetroit says:

      Oh please – Christmas is to religion as my running shorts is to pleasant smells

      • kaceetheconsumer says:

        Yeah but Veggie Tales is Christian stuff that’s supposed to impart religious ideals to your kids, so fighting over those in a store is kind of counterproductive.

        *I* agree that there’s little religion left in Christmas, but you just know that some of these asshats fighting for stuff are religious people who like to use their religion as a bludgeon when it comes to other people’s rights, so I find it hypocritical.

  23. Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

    I liked this comment on the Memphis, Tennessee Toys R Us story:

    Another cop had passed the queue playing music on his loudspeakers and making smartass jokes about it being nice and warm in the police car.

    He or she is my new favorite cop.

  24. MSUHitman says:

    Lady in Clarksville, TN was trampled and received a broken leg while in line at TRU.
    http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20091128/LIFESTYLE11/911280321/Doorbuster-rush-leaves-one-injured-in-Clarksville

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Dang it. I guess it was too much to hope for that there wouldn’t be an actual trampling this year.

  25. lehrdude says:

    The reason for so many problems at Toys R Us is probably that they had absolutely ZERO control over the people standing in line.

    Here in Florida, people started lining up at about 7:00PM on the night before Black Friday to get into the store. At midnight, the line was around the block, but when the doors opened, people were just walking up to the line and walking right into the store.

    When people tried to see WTF was going on, and why all of these people were just walking right in front of the line, the manager who was letting people in said, “We can’t control who walks into the store” Basically, just because people formed a nice, orderly line about 1/4 of a mile long didn’t mean that the store had to honor the fact that most people are civil. Sure they gave out tickets for doorbusters about 30 minutes before the doors opened, but once they did that, all bets were off.

    I’m surprised that there weren’t more incidents or even riots. I will say that Toys R Us took a big hit in my book as well as many others who were standing in line.

    • freshyill says:

      We got in line around 10 p.m. at our Toys R Us, and we were about 50th or so. By midnight it looked like 1,000+. I didn’t see any attempts to jump the line, but there were also quite a few cops on hand. At least 3-4 cars were there.

  26. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    Woo hoo, I finally logged in! I had to re-register because for some reason, my email wasn’t the one linked to my profile….

    We went to the midnight opening of Toys R’ Us for Black Friday. I saw a crowd of people forming a second “line” right outside the door 20 minutes before it opened, but I don’t think they got in. The worst part was that everyone was trying to make a second checkout line, going right through the middle of the store. Nobody could get to anything because people were just standing there in the big middle aisles, and when we found the “real” line, it took almost a half hour before it started moving at all, until employees broke up the other line.

    Apparently a fight broke out on the other side of the store, and police were called in too. This was in Col. Heights, Virginia.

  27. NoDavidOnlyZuul says:

    I started my shopping at Old Navy. i woke up at 2 and was in line around 2:30. Since i was way over the 71 person max, there was no way i was going to get Lego Rock Band. I still picked up some things that family member needed. I was in and out in about 5 minutes. It got crazy when they opened because another group of people decided to form another line near the entrance and then bottlenecked into the store.

    Went to JC Penny to snag 6 free Mickey snow globes.

    Waitied in the target parking lot till about 4:50 and then waitied in line. It stretched around the store and onto the street. They also had 3 rows of shopping carts to prevent line jumpers. Once i left the electronics dept, i was pushed to the other side of the store. My fiance’s brother went with me and he was pushed in another direction. When it was time to check out, customers started making their own main checkout lines which then resulted in 4 different lines merging into 1. It took about 30 minutes to check out.

    Went to best buy and walked in and out.

    Went back to the mall to meet up with my sister and aunt. Walked around Carsons for an hour.

    Had Breakfast at Cracker Barrel

    Home By 10:30 for a nap.

    Overall it was a pretty good morning. People in line were chatty and friendly. It seems like 1 bad story ruins 5 good ones, but that’s the way of the world.

    • LeChiffre says:

      My question fanboy is why? Don’t you think that this is odd behavior showing obsessive and compulsive traits? Getting up at 2am? For shopping? At 2am? Your behavior is clear as mud on this one.

  28. korybing says:

    I heard of a couple Walmart fights here in Springfield, Missouri, but I don’t know any solid facts about that. I’m glad there weren’t any deaths or major injuries, but reading that list still made me angry that people got that frenzied over crap to buy. Oh well, at least nobody was crushed to death this year.

  29. invormation says:

    There was a fire at the Wal Mart that my mom was shopping at on Friday morning. Luckily she had just finished checking out. They had to evacuate the store, and surprisingly everyone left for K Mart, and didn’t wait around for the fire department to come.

  30. subtlefrog says:

    “Memphis, Tennessee: A group of late arrivals tried to rush the door at opening time, but were stopped. Members of the crowd went vigilante, threatening line-jumpers with Tasers and pepper spray.”

    Members of the CROWD were carrying tasers and pepperspray?

    No wonder black Friday is such a mess. Jesus.

  31. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    My family and I were in Dallas for Thanksgiving. My son loves trains so we went to Northpark Mall on Friday around 10:30am. Crowds were light in at the train show (nothing to buy, supports the Ronald McDonald House). We then went to the Lego store since we don’t have one at home. Packed to the gills and not even a decent sale (scratch offs at register for a random percent off, got 10%). We ate lunch and it wasn’t until we were on our way out that it started to get really crowded. I guess mid morning is when the really crazy stand in line people have already left. We only went to the mall on Black Friday because it fit our travel plans. We aren’t going to torture ourselves to save $100 once a year.

  32. henrygates3 says:

    There’s something wrong with it being newsworthy that people went shopping and no one died from it.

  33. Winteridge2 says:

    Just a bunch of happy shoppers trying to spread the Christmas Spirit. Why do the police always have to spoil the fun?