The local frenzy began at Alderwood Mall at 12:01 a.m. Friday with an unexpected rush of consumers. Within minutes, the mall was heavily congested and shoppers were bottlenecked, with some customers pushing and shoving.
"I think this is the dumbest idea they have ever had," said a frustrated Matt Carter of Snohomish. "This is not an environment for young kids. All it takes is for one person to fall down and you would get trampled."
Shannon Schwartz of Stanwood, a friend of Carter's, said the mall was so packed they couldn't even shop. Other shoppers complained that anchor tenants weren't open until hours after the mall began its sale, and that some stores didn't have enough clerks.
Black Friday got off to an insane start in Seattle. But it wasn't always like this.
The Who-Concert-like crowds choking the malls today weren't there 10-12 years ago.
I spent three Christmas seasons as a retail salesperson in the mid-nineties, and while working retail taught me to loathe the Christmas season (I'm pretty much recovered now), I always enjoyed Black Friday.
There were a few stores that opened at 5:00 AM or 6:00 AM, but most stayed closed until 9:00. There were doorbuster sales, but not quite the stampede inducing levels we've come to expect now.
What we had was busy day. Customers at my stores were generally excited, and not universally rotten. There was an incredible energy in the air, and I prided my self on helping as many customers, and racking up as much in sales, as I could during that day.
The whole day became a challenge to have the biggest sales day in the store's history. At one consumer electronics store I worked at, the store normally did $30,000 to $60,000 a day in sales. On Black Friday, we would do $100,000 to $125,000. Breaking into that 6-figure area was a challenge I was happy to be a part of.
The 8 hour shift flew by. Non-stop business and multitasking sapped my entire adrenalin supply for the week. At the end of my shift, I was tired, but knew I helped more customers than I would on most any other day. I knew I was part of the record-setting performance the store set. And I knew I helped some people have a better Christmas season by providing the best, most efficient customer service I could.
The rest of the season would erode the positive feeling of the day, and by early January, I would be anxiously waiting the end of the season and a return to normal.
But for that one day of the season, retail was the place to be.