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The two faces of Black Friday

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 07:11

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MONTAGE PHOTO/KELSEY SUNDERLAND

A lone tent housed a woman and her two young children, who waited at the Brandon Best Buy for Black Friday sales eight days early.

With the holidays quickly approaching, comes the day everyone loves to hate, and vice-versa: Black Friday.

Long lines at Best Buy in Brandon began last Thursday — one week before the sales would start — as a woman and her two young children set up a condo-sized camp to be first in line for Best Buy’s deals on
electronics.

The next day, college-aged students, who said they decided to skip their Monday and Tuesday classes at Hillsborough Community College, parked their camping chairs behind the family, determined to take part in the mass consumerism.

With retail a popular job to have while attending a full course load at USF, many students have perspective on both sides of the Black Friday chaos, and said they both dreaded and admired the growing crowds lining up for Black Friday deals.

Ashley Fulgham, a senior majoring in psychology, said she has worked in retail for the past six years and for five of them, she has worked on Black Friday.

She said she could only describe her experience as “overwhelming.”

“Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to Black Friday, so I never really knew what purpose it served,” Fulgham said. “Being on the serving end you see a whole other side of people and how they disregard the reality that you’re a person, too.”

Fulgham, who works at Marshalls, said the store is one of only a handful that she knows of that does not hold any Black Friday sales. However, on Black Friday for the last couple of years, she said the store could
easily double or triple the amount of business they do on an average day.

Senior anthropology major, Mary Weigel, said she will be experiencing both sides of Black Friday this year.

“I don’t like (shopping), but I go because my brother-in-law makes me,” Weigel said. “It’s too crazy, and I’m not into that craziness.”

This year, the Black Friday chaos will turn into what is being called “Gray Thursday,” where retailers will open doors late Thanksgiving evening to consumers. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa stores such as Wal-Mart and Toys R Us will be opening at 8 p.m., while local Target locations will open at 9 p.m.

But with these Gray Thursday openings come some very unhappy sales associates.

Weigel, who  works at Anthropologie, said the mass amount of work employees must do to accommodate shoppers should mean more pay for retail associates who work during the holidays. She joins nearly 500,000 other retail workers who have signed petitions on Change.org to have retail giants respect the holidays for workers.

Aside from the overwhelming amount of work for employees of any retailer in the country, is a very frightening aspect of Black Friday, not only for shoppers, but for workers as well — the need to be prudent and respectful toward sale-crazed customers, even in accidental situations. Last year, 73-year-old Wal-Mart greeter Jan Sullivan made national news when she was fired for “misconduct” after an incident where she was pushed over and grabbed the woman who pushed her to try to avoid falling.

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Four retailers with the hottest Black Friday deals

1. Wal-Mart
Thanksgiving night between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Wal-Mart guarantees shoppers a 16 GB Apple iPad with Wi-Fi for $399 with a $75 Wal- Mart gift card and an LG Blu-ray player for $38.

2. Best Buy
Tampa shoppers don’t camp outside stores a week in advance for nothing. Some highlights of this year’s Black Friday Best Buy ads include a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 for $179.99 and  Playstation 3 games “Medal of Honor: Warfighter,” “Darksiders II” and “Battlefield 3: Premium Edition” for $29.99 each.

3. Target
Target is proving that it can compete with electronic specialty stores this year with sales on digital cameras, televisions and tablets. A Canon bundle with a Rebel T3 DSLR camera, 18-55mm lens, 75-300mm zoom lens, 4GB SDHC card, and a Canon DSLR bag is being sold for $499.99. Target is also offering a 16 GB iPad 2 with a $60 Target gift card for $399.99
4. Amazon.com
Amazon.com is known for having great deals without participating in the holiday insanity. However, this year Amazon is once again joining conventional retailers with Black Friday deals on just about anything you can imagine. From music to dolls to clothing, shopping at Amazon is probably one of the safest ways to participate in Black Friday.

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