Local News

November 26, 2011

Black Friday sales bring out shoppers in force

Stacy Laviana expected dense crowds, but she didn’t expect what she saw in the produce section of the Walmart on Shugart Road.

The Chatsworth resident estimated a couple hundred people were gathered in the area at about 9:30 p.m., waiting on Walmart to open the lines for deeply discounted video games. Her husband had already gotten a great deal on a 40-inch television. Now she waited in line to snag one of a limited supply of deeply discounted Xbox games for her daughter.

At first, she said, people were polite to one another, but as time ticked toward opening, she said she heard some people behind her say something about diving into the display. When the bell went off, they did, she said.

“It was crazy,” Laviana said. “I just have never experienced anything like that before. They dived on top of us, and we were trampled.”

Laviana said no one was seriously injured as far as she could tell, and the whole thing lasted only a few seconds. Still, she said her neck and shoulder were sore hours later.

Efforts to reach anyone at the Dalton Police Department on Friday were unsuccessful. A woman who answered the phone at Walmart after a reporter’s request to speak with a manager said employees “can’t discuss that at the store level” and referred questions to the company’s corporate office.

Walmart spokesman Greg Rossiter said he talked with associates there after a news media request for information, but he couldn’t confirm what had taken place because the employees there at the time had gone off shift.

“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable shopping experience,” Rossiter said. “If anything occurs that interrupts that we’ll intervene up to and including asking ... security associates employees at the store who are trained to be able to manage those situations. And if it gets to a certain point, then we’ll ask local law enforcement.”

Laviana said she managed to grab three games in all the excitement and ended up giving one away to another customer The games were normally $39 or more, she said, but were marked down to $15.

Would Laviana do Black Friday again?

“I probably won’t,” she said. “The only way I would ever do Black Friday again is if I was really going after a big item like the TV. If it’s small like that, it’s not worth my time.

“... I’m not going to fight over it. If you go to Black Friday, you should know to keep lighthearted about things because it’s just ridiculous. Do they really think just because it’s Black Friday it’s an excuse to go crazy?”

Of course, not all Black Friday shoppers reported crazy experiences.

At the Kohl’s on Shugart Road, would-be bargain-finders were lined up hundreds deep waiting to get inside for the store’s midnight opening. A cheer erupted at 12 o’clock, and the line that snaked halfway around the parking lot moved inside within a few minutes.

Still, most people remained civil.

Tiffany Lassetter of Rocky Face said she waited near the front of the line since about 10:15 p.m. to get a specialty pillow and presents for family.

“We left Walmart at 10:09 and came here, so we expected it to be crazy,” she said.

Destinee and Melisha Woods of Dalton said they stood in line at Kohl’s for more than an hour before the midnight opening and also went to Walnut Square Mall and Kmart.

“No sleep,” Melisha said, laughing.

At Kohl’s mid-morning on Friday, Charles and Janice Bearden of Tunnel Hill said they waited until after a nice breakfast to get up and were still able to get two pairs of the $25 jeans they came for along with some other items.

The Salvation Army Store on Thornton Avenue drew in crowds of its own with a 50 percent off sale.

April Rich of Dalton said she comes to the store often.

“They’ve got good stuff — Chicos, Patagonia,” she said, glancing down at a shopping cart full of clothes. She pulled out a black Chicos skirt with tags indicating its $128 price still attached. She got it for $3. Then she pulled out a Macy’s brand men’s dress shirt, also with tags still attached. Total cost: $2.50.

“I’ve already been to Walmart about 8 or so,” she said while shopping mid-morning. “I asked the lady (working there) where the mob was.”

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