Black Friday or “Black Eye” Friday

Black Friday or

Taylor Hanibal & Lexie Ferris, Journalist

There are various versions describing the origin of Black Friday. One is that in the 1800s, southern plantations owners could buy slaves at a discounted price the day after Thanksgiving. Another, more popular tale, says it was created by the Panic of 1869, when the gold market crashed. In this version, two Wall Street bankers, Jay Gould and James Fisk, bought up as much of the nation’s gold as possible, and then resold it all for jacked up prices. When their actions were discovered, the gold market plummeted. After trying to rebuild the economy for a year, the retailers realized they would make the most profit after Thanksgiving. The term “black” means “to earn profit.”

But neither of these stories, or any of the others, are true. The apparent true story of Black Friday, sings a different tune. In the 1950s, in Philadelphia, there were masses of people coming to the city in order to watch the big Army-Navy football game. The crowd was so large, every police officer in the city was required to be on duty at all times during the event. Since so many people rushed into the city, profits for retailers were rapidly increasing. Along with that, shoplifting was made easier as well. Initially, the term “Black Friday” was used negatively to describe the chaos of the holidays in Philly; eventually the term was coined and spread nationwide in a positive way in the 1980s.

Today, violence, insanity, and chaos are still true characteristics of Black Friday. People have been brutally attacked in attempts to snag the best deal on the biggest flat screen television or the newest Barbie Doll. In recent years, there is no shortage of horror stories in regards to the insanity shown by even the sweetest of people when stores open at Midnight on Black Friday.

In naming just a couple of these horror stories, a Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death in 2008. Jdimytai Damour was working only for the holiday season at a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, NY. According to reports from other workers, a crowd started gathering outside the store and cops were called in for crowd control around 3:30am. It began to get ugly, when 5:00am rolled around the doors of the store were shattered and the mob surged through. The crowd stampeded into the store towards the holiday bargains, not caring who got in their way. According to witnesses and the police, Jdimytai Damour, who was 34 years old, was flung backward onto the linoleum tiles and trampled by the mob streaming over and around him. When he was finally discovered on the floor, Damour was taken to the emergency room and pronounced dead within the hour. Jdimytai was not the only victim of the mob; four other individuals, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were also injured in the stampede.

Christopher Pitcher, who worked in a chain clothing store on Black Friday this year, can contest to the craziness of the bargain seekers. As someone who works at Hollister & Co., Chris said their main goal “was to make sure everyone left happy and that our customer service was great while still making sure we sold enough to meet our goal of over $100,000 in sales.” Chris described the scene as the doors were opened at the mall at 6:00 am on Friday morning; “It was so funny to be in the store, seeing the doors open, and having over one hundred people sprinting through the mall, and past the food court, in order to get where they wanted to go.” People who work on Black Friday, not only put their lives at risk due to the violence of bargain seekers, but also because of the hunger and exhaustion they faced. Chris told us he worked over 18 hours with only two, one hour breaks and his co-worker Sam almost passed out from not eating or drinking for hours on end.

Another shocking story takes place in a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, CA. Two women were shopping with their male companions when a fight broke out over a toy. The shooting occurred after the two women started punching each other. In order to defend their female companions, two men then drew their guns and shot at each other in the store. Both men ended up surviving their injuries.

For the most part, the larger department stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, and malls tend to be much more crowded than the outlet malls or locally owned stores. An Ipswich High School Math Teacher, Sherrie Whitman, said, “I went shopping at the Merrimack Outlet Stores. Malls are busier because the outlets are outside and you’re not enclosed in a building. It doesn’t seem as busy, but in the mall, it looks super busy because everyone is crowding around you.”

More than 154 million people shop on Black Friday every year, spending only $10 less on shopping-averaging about $290 in purchases rather than $300. In terms of online shopping, consumers collectively spent about $1.9 billion on Thanksgiving Day and another $3.3 Billion on Black Friday. For some stores, Black Friday begins at six on Thursday night, drawing people away from their families not long after Thanksgiving dinner is cleaned up. While some people bundle up and rush out to get the best bargains, many decide to sit at home and watch the drama unfold on the news.