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Midnight at Macy's: Black Friday crowd comes to shop

7:50 AM, Nov 23, 2012   |    comments
Jimmy Chen and wife Ming Zhang look at diamond earrings at Macy's Black Friday sales in McLean, Va.(Photo: Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY)
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Macy's at Tysons Corner Center was supposed to open at midnight but there was no way to keep the throngs of shoppers out once employees started trying to open the multiple sliding doors. When the door cracked enough for one shopper, it quickly became an 11:50 p.m. opening.

There were no hundred-dollar TVs or iPads with gift cards, but hundreds of bargain hunters swarmed the store looking for 1/4-carat diamond earrings for $199 and kitchenware including panini makers for $9.99 after a $10 mail-in rebate.

"It's crazy," said French au pair Marie Fritsch. "We live with Americans so we do the same crazy things."

Jimmy Chen and his wife Ming Zhang were trying out diamonds -- but some that were far pricier than the 1/4 and 1/2 carat department store-style doorbusters Macy's was offering. Zhang seemed especially fond of a 1.4 carat pair that were marked down -- to $3,800.

"We just wanted to check them out in person," said Chen. With his parents as babysitters, the couple "put our babies to sleep and came out."

Andrea Chavez' family ate dinner at 5 p.m. -- their earliest Thanksgiving dinner ever -- so they could all be at the stores with the bargains they wanted. Her brother and sister were heading out to Best Buy and Target for electronics, so she and her mother hit the kitchenware section at Macy's, scoring products including a juice extractor that would cost $20 after a $10 rebate, down from $70.

With lines that were 20 people deep in housewares and little breathing room around the boots, employees seemed to have holiday cheer. While some Walmart workers were complaining about working on the holiday -- and talking of striking -- the Macy's employees seemed content with their shift.

In an invite to visit the store, public relations aide Tara Raeber suggested talking to store managers to "find out why they love working on Black Friday." Turns out, store manager Brian Firehammer was pretty convincing that he did indeed find it "fun" and "exciting" despite having a 20-minute dinner with his wife and daughter before going to bed at 5 p.m. to rest up for his 18-hour shift.

Jennie Lee, a 26-year-old lawyer from Arlington, Va., deemed it "more controlled chaos" than she found at Arlington's Pentagon City Mall last year at its midnight opening.

The National Retail Federation updated its Black Friday crowd control guidelines, while some stores staggered their deals and others, including Toys R Us, handed out tickets

Still, Richard Wilson of Altoona, Iowa, didn't think it was safe for him to venture out. He stayed home Thursday night and Friday morning. He already has "one broken arm. Didn't think it was worth a risk of getting another one."

That was probably a good idea. Suzan Robinson told USA TODAY that around 2:30 a.m. Friday, shoppers at a Belk Department Store in Mooresville, N.C., were pushing and shoving each other to get $90 boots that were marked down to $20.

USA Today

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