Black Friday 2008 Liveblog: Wal-Mart worker trampled, lines light and other bad news to report

WalletPop's far-flung bloggers will be reporting in from all over the country on Black Friday, starting at midnight on Nov. 28 and going all through the day. Want to find out what happens at midnight madness sales? Want to see Richard Simmons working up the crowds at Macy's in Manhattan? Want to find out if there are any hot toys flying off the shelves, or if there's any sad news to report (unfortunately, there is...). Check back here for minute-by-minute updates of all the latest news, and don't forget to also keep track on our Black Friday 2008 Deals Scorecard.



7:15PM What's Your Tally
As we bring Black Friday to a close (the shops open early and stay open late, but bloggers have bedtimes...), it's time for a tally. How did your day go?



7:00PM The Best Place to Be Today
Where should you spend the day after Thanksgiving? By all rights, it should be the gym. Want to know the one place that's not crowded on Black Friday? The gym. I just got home from a nice workout at Gold's, where I pretty much had the whole facility to myself. If you feel like escaping the crowds and working off the pumpkin pie at the same time, there's probably an empty treadmill nearby. (The Kmart parking lot next door was still overflowing, though. Shopping must be exercise enough for most folks today...)
-Meg Massie, Charlottesville, VA

6:36PM How the Mall Looks to Us
Tysons Corner is one of the busiest shopping areas in the country. This is the scene as captured by a local resident.
-Jamie Hammond, Virginia



5:05PM Is your cart half full or half empty?
The early reports on the results of the shopping day are coming in. Having a hard time sorting through the headlines? Us to. It all depends on the hour and the publication as to whether sales have been good or bad today. Here's a run-down of what's being reported today:
Holiday Sales Slow (CNNMoney)
All Eyes on Shoppers (New York Times)
Desperate Discounts Appear to be Working (WSJ)
Shoppers Seek Deals, Buy Less (Reuters)
Veteran Shoppers Say Crowds are Light (Dallas Morning News)
New York Shoppers Cautious (Forbes)


3:45PM If the Jeans Fit...
Perhaps it was stupid of me to go looking for new pants today of all days, but I needed some, so I went. And hey, 50% off jeans at Old Navy. When I got to the store, the parking lot was crowded and I could see that the checkout lines were long, but I sort of hoped the worst of the crazy Black Friday shoppers would have cleared out by 3pm, when I arrived. Nope. All I wanted was one pair of jeans, but looking through the shelves was like navigating a minefield. Order was long lost, and those of us who were lucky enough to find the right size buried deep in the precariously stacked piles were inevitably pelted with falling denim when we attempted to dislodge our selections.

This store has more than ten fitting rooms, but still the wait was nearly 20 minutes for an empty one. Aren't people supposed to be out shopping for others? Who needs a fitting room? Besides me, I mean. Then I waited 20 minutes more at the checkout line. I guess it could have been worse, but it's never taken me an hour to buy a pair of jeans before. I pity the employees who have to clean up the store tonight.
-Meg Massie, Charlottesville, Virginia

3:11PM The Big Apple Report
Saks Fifth Avenue has a lovely holiday window display of moving snow flakes (my daughter loved it), but the Wall Street Journal's holiday sales blog says that not much is moving inside the store. Except, that is, for the women's shoe department, which is packed. The blog says that women were leaving the line without purchasing anything because it was too packed. That leads to the thought that maybe the problems Saks is having aren't so much about the economic downturn, but about bad service.

Saks is one of 10 stores we are keeping an eye on this holiday shopping season, because the outlook is so bad they may have to close up shop before 2009. Is one of your favorite stores on our watch list of big retailers which may have to close or downsize?
-Beth Pinsker, New York, NY

2:31PM Did you miss the doorbuster price while standing in line?
One of our readers is reporting that when she finally reached the check-out counter at her local Macy's at 1:08PM, the sales clerk would not honor the doorbuster price, advertised until 1PM. Fair or not fair? You be the judge.

Here's what Suzanne has to say: "Furious at Macy's. All check out counters only had one person ringing up merchandise and bagging the items instead of two people, one to ring and one to bag. The early bird specials were over at 1pm. I was standing in line since 12:45 and when I finally got to the check out counter at 1:08, the early bird special was not honored nor my coupon. Very unfair to me and the other 5 people who were standing in line behind me for 20 minutes.Shame on you Macy's...Carolina Place Mall...Charlotte North Carolina!!"

What should stores do in this situation? They know people are standing in long lines. They know they are understaffed? Tell us your story!


1:45PM Stick a plastic fork in it!
At least one business is having a great day -- the intrepid Susan capped off her shopping expedition with a little lunch at Skyline Chili, near her mall. They were so busy they ran out of silverware, and diners are eating with plastic forks.

On the shopping front, she was able to pick up two nice things (a Barbie-related item and a Littlest Pet Shop toy, but shhh, don't tell the kids!) and a children's video for $50. She felt pretty good about that. She said, "Every parking lot around Eastgate, it's just packed. It's like, what recession, you know what I mean? People are spending money." By the time she left Toys R Us, "it looked like a tornado had gone through the store. There were a lot of empty bins with the clearance signs still on them. Any great Doorbuster deals, not surprisingly, were bought up around 6 a.m, I'm sure."
-Geoff WIlliams, Loveland, OH

1:00PM Feel Like Protesting?
Sitting home and watching football, or soap operas or doing anything but shopping today can be considered a political action. If you want to take it a bit further, check out the happenings for Buy Nothing Day. Find a protest near you and join the brigade.

Here's what our blogger, Sarah Gilbert, had to say about her participation.

What did you spend today? Me, I participated in Buy Nothing Day by default. Tied to a liveblog all day while my husband had the car out working, I personally spent nothing. But my husband actually spent around $200 at Lowe's for supplies for renovating a bathroom, which isn't profligate spending, but expenses for a job, so I'm not sure where that counts.
-Beth PInsker, New York, NY

12:14PM Creative Doorbusting
Earlier this morning I shared my failed attempt to purchase a digital frame at Staples.com, but thankfully we just returned from Meijer's with a frame in tow. How? One of our friends got there early for the doorbusters and stashed a few extra frames behind other boxes until the rest of our group could get there to purchase them. I'm sure there will be some outrage about this but for those of you new to shopping today, but, I say, "All's fair in love and Black Friday!" Thanks to our good friend Liz for braving Meijer before she had to report for a full day of Black Friday work elsewhere!
-Josh Smith, Findlay, OH


12:02PM A Black Friday Marriage Proposal
This morning at Best Buy in the Mall of America, one of the VIP winners who got in early to Best Buy's Black Friday sales proposed to his girlfriend live on KSTP. The overjoyed Fiance to be, who just picked up the carpet shampooer she has always wanted, did say yes and it looks like this will be a Black Friday to remember for this couple.



The proposal was only fitting considering the winning entry submitted by Tina from Minneapolis, was about building a family tradition around Black Friday. Here winning entry below:

The dictionary describes a tradition as "A practice, custom, or story that is memorized and passed down from generations to generations." For the last five years, my significant other and I have decided that our own holiday traditions needed to be started for us and our future family. From cutting down the tree each year, to visiting unique tourist destinations to show on our holiday card that we send to all of our friends and family, and to, yes, sleeping outside our favorite Best Buy store in Brooklyn Center , Minnesota right after we get done eating our Thanksgiving meal. This is a day that we have looked forward to each and every year. Getting to snuggle next to your loved one and meeting your neighbors that are there to start their holiday traditions along with you. When the stores open up at 5am, which starts out the special day and season to mark the start of the holidays and the many memories that are to be made by the gifts we are about to purchase. And just when we leave the Best Buy parking lot, when we have so many boxes that the truck is overloaded and we have to figure out how to put all the passengers in the cab as well, we go home to unload and hit the road to continue shopping the entire day and sometimes weekend long. Our holidays always start with Best Buy which has been our tradition for going on six years now.
-Josh Smith, Findlay, OH

eve wall-e11:51AM First Comes Eve!
Our blogger's wife is out at the mall while he watches the kids, but she's reporting in for us that Eve toys (she was WALL-E's girlfriend) are selling better than WALL-E himself. Susan says, "I'm not seeing a lot of deals yet, but it's hard to see anything because you have keep seeing where in the crowd your cart is." At least in one part of Ohio, it's wall-to-wall people at the mall.
-Geoff Williams, Loveland, OH

11:18AM Wal-Mart Trampling Death
Well, it didn't take long for this Black Friday to turn sour. Here we are at the 11AM mark and there's this report on the AP wires: Wal-Mart Worker Trampled to Death. Now the New York Daily News has a gallery of pictures up, which you can view at your own peril. There's nothing untoward, but it is a lot of rubber-necking.

What happened was this: At a Wal-Mart store in Valley Stream, NY, a worker was trampled when unruly shoppers broke down the doors. A pregnant woman was also taken to the hospital.

With all the worries about bleak sales and the general forecast of gloom in the world, this is the last thing we all needed. Is it really so important to grab that cheap laptop?
-Beth Pinsker, New York, NY

11:07AM How much Richard Simmons can you take?
Here he is live in Herald Square in the wee hours of the morning. Photos courtesy of Ocean Spray, Macy's and WeberShandwick PR, who sent them along to us.


9:49AM Here's the latest news from CNBC:


9:20AM Think you're waiting/waited in a long line to go shopping today? Check out this hysterical (and extremely well-produced video) on the traffic going to the Waikele Premium Outlets last night. It's not your typical Black Friday home shopping video.



8:20AM Morning News Round-Up
From Louisville Courier-Journal: Fewer Shoppers at the Mall
From MichiganLive: Black Friday via a neat litle widget called "Cover It Live"
From the Sacramento Bee: Another CoverItLive example, with a team all over the Sacramento area
From Naples News: Liveblogging the madness
From the Atlanta J&C: Area Report, Plus Twitter Links
From CNNMoney: Shoppers Aplenty, Plus Chart of Past Sales Figures
From the AP: People Jam Stores for Black Friday Deals
From the Washington Post: Crowds Line Up, Prepare to Spend
From the New York Times: Retialers Offer Big Discounts, Then Pray
From the Wall Street Journal: Holiday Sales Blog: With the latest from the lines
From Bloomberg News: Latest Retail Forecasts


6:28AM Staples.com goes down
I woke up early this morning to pick up a good deal on a digital picture frame at Staples.com as a Christmas gift and as soon as 6 AM rolled around, Staples went down like a sack of bricks. For the past 15 minutes the site has bounced between not available and a page indicating that it will open with holiday specials at 6 AM; which was 15 minutes ago as I type this. While I realize that Staples only gets this kind of web traffic once; maybe twice per year, it's sad that they couldn't beef up their site servers to handle the load. From a consumer standpoint I feel like I waited in line and then the store manager showed up without her keys, or let anyone in; rather than those who waited in line all night.
-Josh Smith, Findlay, OH

6:26AM Richard Simmoms. 4am. Macy's. Need we say more?


6:14AM Camping Out at Best Buy
With 5 and a half hours left until store opening, Best Buy in Findlay Ohio already had 7 tents and between 40 and 50 people waiting in line with more piling into the parking lot as Thanksgiving drew to a close. The line was well stocked with cold weather gear and entertainment for the hours ahead. Those at the front of the line had already put in several hours of "camping" and will likely depend on leftover turkey and unprepared shoppers for sustenance as the RealFeel temperature drops to a chilly 16 degrees before Best Buy opens, according to Accuweather.com. One can only hope that no appendages or bladders fall victim to the long and cold wait on this hunt for the elusive HDTV!

-Josh Smith, Findlay, Ohio


6:12AM To HDTV or not to HDTV
While everybody else is sleeping off the turkey coma, I'm combing the sales circulars looking for deals I can't pass up. My goal ? a 42-inch HDTV at a good price.

Meijer has a 42-in GFM -- A Chinese company that gets mixed reviews -- for $499, but there are only 40 per store and I'll have to get up in a couple of hours to go stand on line for this deal.

For $544, ABC Warehouse, the local appliance discounter, is selling a 42-inch Panasonic. They only have 20 per store, but the stores don't open until 8 a.m., and there's a warehouse less than a half-mile from me.

K-Mart is selling a 42-inch Samsung for $699. Who thought that was a doorbuster that would have appeal? Even parent-company Sears is doing better than that. Sears is selling a 42-inch Sylvania for $699, but it's a 1080p ? a step up in picture quality.

Wal-Mart has a 42-inch Polaroid for $598 "while supplies last." Doors open at 5 a.m. and my bet is that they'll all be gone by 5:15 a.m.

Best Buy is selling a 42-inch Dynex, their house brand, for $599. It's a plasma -- the rest of these are LCDs. The circular says Best Buy is passing out numbers two hours before the doors open at 5 a.m. Ouch. This is Detroit. Standing outside at 3 a.m. sounds like a bad idea to me.

Here it is. Costco has the TV I want -- a 42-inch Sharp 1080p for $799 through Dec. 15. No need to get up early and stand on line. We already own one Sharp and the picture is terrific. $799 isn't a terrific deal, but it's not bad either.

I guess I'm too lazy to be a good Black Friday shopper.
-Jennie Phipps

11:52PM Here's a deal you won't see on your regular deal list:
South Carolina is offering tax-free guns as a Black Friday special. The Associated Press report says, "The so-called 'Second Amendment Weekend' is thanks to a little-debated amendment legislators tacked on this summer to a tax break for energy-efficient appliances." Let's just hope that things stay calm in the stores where guns are available, because if there's a run on Elmo dolls, things could get pretty ugly.
-Beth Pinsker, reporting from New York

11:43PM What bust?
The lines are long and growing! At 11:15pm tonight, I was driving home from my parents' house to my own in Charlottesville, VA. Already there were a dozen cars and a small crowd of people waiting outside Wal-Mart, which won't open until 5am tomorrow. But then I passed Best Buy, and the line of people camped out in front of the door went nearly all the way down the sidewalk running the length of the front of the store. Best Buy also opens at 5am. It's currently 40 degrees out with lows below freezing. I hope these people have warm beverages and things to keep themselves entertained through the night.
-Meg Massie, reporting from Charlottesville, VA

11:38PM Just a little something to amuse you this evening on Black Friday.




11:29PM USA Today says that 128 million people will be out shopping starting now through the weekend. Will you be among those people?
-Beth Pinsker, reporting from New York




11:22PM Is Today a Holiday in Your Company?
Is anyone else getting Black Friday off as an official company holiday? That's what's happening at one hospital in Ohio, near our blogger. So many people were asking for Black Friday off at the local hospital that they had to add Black Friday to the official Holiday schedule! From the sounds of it Friday ranked up there with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years for time off requests.
-Josh Smith, reporting from Ohio.

11:21PM Will you be wearing your PJs to the mall tonight?
That's what they're doing in the Lansing, MI area at the Prime Outlets at Birch Run, which opened at midnight. The first 500 pajama-clad shoppers to visit the mall's Guest Services office will receive goodie bags filled with Jockey brand PJ's and other freebies.
-Geoff Williams, reporting from Loveland, Ohio

11:18PM Thanksgiving in Line?
In Sacramento, these people started their camp-out in front of Best Buy on TUESDAY, and their parents (who started the "tradition") were bringing them Thanksgiving dinner while they waited! Wait, what's the priority here?

Some of their quotes: So what motivates people to sleep in cold, rainy weather for more than two days. "Really good deals," Getchell said. "This is like Toys 'R Us for big kids."

And they really like being at the front of the line. "We just wanted to be first," Getchell said.
-Vanessa Richardson, reporting from San Francisco

11:16PM Coupon Shoppers Already
We just finished picking up a last minute item at Walgreens and the people in front of us were taking advantage of pre-Black Friday sales. They held up the line while the cashier had to ring up 5 separate purchases so they could use the same coupon 5 times! The festivities have begun!
-Josh Smith reporting from Ohio




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