Five Crazy Black Friday Shopping Frenzies

For many Americans, this Thursday will be a day of thankful reflection over a meal the size of which a third-world family has never seen. But according to the National Retail Federation, about 152 million of those folks (that's about half the population) can be expected to line the cold shopping plazas of America in search of the perfect deal before they even digest their stuffing.

Black Friday has come to represent a day for the 99% to get whatever they want, even if they have to punch their neighbor in the face to get it. As prices lower across our great land, so too does the bar on moral behavior, and casual shopping starts to look more like a contact sport.

In honor of all you soldiers of the sale, we're taking time this season to reflect on the craziest commercial manias of recent years, and the lengths we go to get what we want.

5. #Occupy Best Buy

Before the rush and frenzy of doors opening to hundreds, there's the

calm of patient customers staking their place in line by literally

camping in front of the store for days. There's certainly nothing crazy

about hanging out in a Best Buy parking lot, sleeping on cement for

weeks if it means you get a cheap LCD television and external hard


Just ask Sean Keeley of Fort Myers, who started camping with his

family last Friday, or Tito Hernandez of St. Petersburg, who's been

living in front of his local Best Buy for a week.  These guys know you

can't be over-prepareded when it comes to the best sales in the

nation. The early bird catches the worm, and the family that camps

together on a storefront for a week is probably out of their minds.

4. Please form a line - or a riot. California Best Buy, 2006

After all the waiting comes the main event, and finally, all that

anticipation and frustration turns into a mad scene of fighting to be

the first tired douche bag to get a PS3. Like back in 2006, when police

had to put the restless geeks into check at a California Best Buy.

Anxious gamers started pummeling each other for the chance to grab the

then-new console first, and people were just tossed around all over the

place. Watch how these kids climb over each other in sheer Mountain

Dew-fueled excitement.

3. Wild Beasts of Walmart Stampede

Unfortunately, not all riot-level door rushes come with happy endings.

The grisly tale of the Walmart maintenance worker trampled to death by

impatient customers back in 2008 is still fresh in shopper's minds.

Jdimytai Damour was readying the store to open when deal-seekers

literally busted the doors down. The onslaught of more than 2,000 people

left Damour pronounced dead by 6 a.m., only an hour after the sale

began. I hope the $2 DVD copies of Rush Hour 2 were worth it.

2. Showdown in Toys "R" Us's Aisle 12

You'd think shopping for toys would be a light-hearted occasion, but even kid stores get ugly on Black Friday. In 2009, families of shoppers at a Toys "R" Us in California were

rattled by gunshots. Two men got into some sort of scrap and pulled guns

on one another. Both men shot, and both men wound up dead.

But investigators didn't think the fight was over some toy. Instead,

they thought the shooting was gang related. Because a crowded toy store

on the craziest shopping day in American is a great place to settle turf


1. Smash and Grabs

But even if you manage to get there early enough, survive the madness

inside and make it out the door with your new computer, there's no

promise you're going to get it home.

Last year, two women at a Palm Beach Best Buy were the first in line and

stored their purchases in the car before heading to JC Penney. When

they got back to the car, they found its windows smashed and $1,000 of

goodies taken.

So what can we take away from Black Fridays of yore? Well, if you have

to shop at Best Buy this Friday, be extra cautious. And honestly, if you

have to shop at all, just do it online.

-- Kat Bein

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Miami New Times staff

Latest Stories