Moments after symbolically “giving thanks” by gorging ourselves into near comas, modern Thanksgiving tradition now dictates that we stumble away from the table and head directly to the mall, replacing the 4th of July as the most American holiday. With turkey on our breath, pie crumbs on our faces, and blood in our eyes, we trample the weaker of the herd for discount electronics. This consumer feeding frenzy kicks off on Black Friday and continues at a fever pitch throughout the holiday season. While the Internet is always available as an alternative for us timid shoppers, there are those out there who have no choice but to march into the madness. Retail clerks are the soldiers of selling, hunkered down in the trenches with forced smiles on their faces. These are their war stories.
The Day After
Black Friday is only the second worst day of the year. The worst is actually the day after Christmas. When everyone has gift cards, broken consoles or games they don’t like that they got from Santa, they all come back to GameStop. Or worse, they come and trade in everything in their basement. The day after Christmas, GameStop runs a “Buy 2 Get One Free” sale on all used games and accessories, making for even more madness.
In Canada a few years ago, the stores up here really made a push to make Black Friday a thing so they could attempt to compete. So, we had to come into the store at 6:30 a.m. to open at 7:00 a.m. and we had all sorts of crazy deals, but then, nothing! We had a couple customers, but business didn’t get busy until later in the day. It was a giant waste of store hours.
I had a little boy pee all over the sidewalk, right in front of the front door at 5:30 p.m. on a Thursday.
Cops ’n’ Robbers
As our store bought and sold second-hand stuff, we had massive issues with criminals trying to sell stolen goods. We knew that a percentage of our stock was often stolen, so we worked closely with the police. Once, just before Christmas, one of the security doorman at our university told me that his house had been broken into and loads of Xbox presents were stolen. A few days later, this exact list of items appeared at our store. The police were called and the guy was arrested, but I heard that the doorman took matters into his own hands too.
When the Wii Fit came out during the holiday season, it was a nightmare. Every GameStop only got about nine and they were gone as soon as you got the shipment in. It was a very busy day and we had one Wii Fit left. Another GameStop called and asked me to hold it for a customer (which I have to do). I put the associate on hold and myself and two other employees asked every customer in my store if anyone wanted the last Wii Fit. Nobody said a thing. I went back to the phone and told the associate from the other GameStop I could hold it for a half hour (the other store was only about a mile away). We continued waiting on customers until it became this one woman’s turn in line, who now said she wanted the Wii Fit. I explained to her that it was held for a customer from another store for at least a half hour. I asked my employees and even other customers if they’d seen this woman say something earlier when we’d all asked. No one heard her say a thing or even raise her hand. I told her that maybe the other customer wouldn’t show up, or maybe she could explain the situation to her if she arrived. When the other customer did arrive, this woman physically threatened her and proceeded to call GameStop’s 800 number. She spoke with my District Manager and we ended up having to get a Wii Fit special for her, holding it for her when it arrived and calling her when it came in.
It was crazy busy and we had stacks of DVDs under bunks that housed CDs. Some lady kicks over a big stack of them, looks at me and walks away. Before I can get to them, another lady promptly steps on some and falls down. She was super angry that we had “just left DVDs laying around.”
We always have extra security for Boxing Day and once we had this one guard who was not so pleasant. He goes to the bathroom, takes a humongous dump and doesn’t flush. When I find it and try and flush it, the toilets gets clogged and there’s poo water and poo overflowing all over the place! After I come back from running out to the grocery store in a super crazy mall for a plunger and cleaning supplies, the guard is just sitting there, smiling. I made him go back, plunge the toilet and clean up his crap, literally.
I have had over 30 people try to buy an NES Classic at my store in the last week ALONE and I only work part-time. Everyone wants to buy one, yet we were only given for 13 for release day! We’ve been given NO time frame for when we will get more and of course have none for Black Friday. It’s insane and frustrating for both store staff and consumers!
Wii Want What You Don’t Got
When the Wii was limited, they would have us put a sign up on the door for days like Black Friday that said how many we had at our location. Every time there was a huge line, people in the front, right next to the sign, would ask “How many Wiis do you have today?”
A Bit of a Messer-Upper
When working Sunday morning shifts after staying out at a rock club until 3:00 a.m. the night prior, my boss used to put me on “easy” tasks, bless him! This usually consisted of sorting out all the games on the shelves, making sure they were in the right place. This one guy used to often follow me around the shop, flicking through all the games I’d just stacked, messing up their order. I kept telling him that the games stacked in the back were just doubles of the ones in front but he carried on anyway, messing up every stack in the entire shop.
Retro No Go
On a regular basis, I have parents come into the store and ask for older game systems, especially around the holidays. Whenever I explain to them that we don’t sell anything Pre-Xbox 360/PS3/Wii they just kind of roll their eyes and say “I thought you guys were a video game store.”
If you brave shopping centers this time of year, you know what it’s like out there. But, no matter how crazy things get, you can always call it quits and head home. Retail employees aren’t so lucky. Despite constant disrespect, anger and abuse they take from stupid customers, they must maintain their composure or risk getting fired. So remember, next time you’re shopping and you feel frustrated and angry, be nice to the employees!