Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Mounted Police of Black Friday

Yesterday morning I had "Black Friday withdrawal" and ended up getting out with spouse about 7:10 am to see what places we could get into.  This wasn't where we live but where we were visiting, so our shopping experience was in northern Westchester County, New York, in a mall called the Cortlandt Town Center.

At Office Max, which had opened at 7, we were supposed to buy my son a flash drive.  There were only several of the 8MB flash drives my son wanted.  But the computers weren't working right, so we were on line almost 1/2 hour.

Then at Home Depot, we were greeted like royalty, with four different employees scrambling to get me a shopping cart or offering help.  One located something we were looking for.  Now, if they could only do that the rest of the year, I might be tempted to shop there more often.

Then, we looked towards Wal-Mart, in the same shopping center.  There weren't lines visible outside, which was a good sign.  But, parading in front of the store were....three mounted policeman.

Now I grew up in NYC so mounted policeman aren't unknown to me.  But I hadn't seen mounted police in a long time.

I do not know much about horses so I don't know what breed the horses are.  I can tell you these horses are very tall, and the mounted police very imposing.  The horses, I know, are very well trained and invaluable in crowd control.  New York City has been using mounted police since around 1875, but I wasn't aware Westchester (the county just north of NYC) used them also.  Now I do know.

I know Wal-Mart wasn't taking chances after the tragic occurrence last Black Friday on Long Island.

Sure enough, as we approached the store there were a number of men wearing "event" day-glo vests, directing people into the store.  Inside the store I saw at least 10 men wearing actual police uniforms (not security guards) plus more "event" people.

It was actually possible (by this time it was after 8am) to move around the store.  I did a small amount of shopping in the toy and sporting goods area, and saw cash registers open in sporting goods.  I have to say here that I am a reluctant Wal-Mart shopper.  For various reasons I try to take my business elsewhere but for the shopping I was doing, getting the most for my dollar was a necessity. 

Of course the line wasn't moving.  The man in front of me explained the computers were down, and it wasn't the first time this morning either.

At least the people there seemed somewhat mellow.

We did finally get out of there.  And Wal-Mart did right with the security, as evidenced by what happened later yesterday in California.

It made me wonder if Wal-Mart made much money with all they had to pay out in security. 

There were also a number of union people handing out leaflets in front of the store.   They have their own story to tell about Wal-Mart.

We did a little more shopping today and it didn't seem like the crowds were much more than there would have been on an average Saturday. We look hard for bargains and aren't going to overbuy.

I can tell you that a lot of people in the Triple Cities of Upstate NY are worried about a lot more than their Black Friday bargains.  So it will be interesting to see how the shopping season goes.  Perhaps finally, Americans are finding once again the "true meaning of the season" - which isn't all about shopping.

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