How to survive Black Friday Shoppers

My name is Devin Thomas, Store Manager of HaulMart in Newport, Oregon. In 2017 we lost 3 employees to the Day. I have prepared a war plan for the 2018 battle. I share it here with you so that you may order your ranks and brandish your store’s defenses appropriately. There are consequences to neglecting to prepare for Black Friday, so let this serve as a blueprint for how to survive it.

I dedicate this plan of action to the 2017 fallen, taken by Black Friday Shopping hordes despite our mighty garrison and armament:

  • Robert in home appliances, God rest his soul
  • Marty in kitchen supplies, God rest his soul
  • Jenny at checkout, God rest her soul.

The New War Plan follows.

Plan for surviving Black Friday

1) Armor: Prepping the soldiery

This is war. Your army is only as strong as your soldier employees, and armor can go a long way in preparing them for battle.

Head: Construction helmets are O-K, but ideal head protection is a hockey helmet (with grill) and accompanying neck guard. Goggles beneath this as well as a 3M facepiece respirator to guard against Shopper mania contamination is recommended.

Torso: Your store’s sports section should have sufficient football shoulder pads.

Legs: Hockey goalie pads for employees on the ground. Carhartt over soccer shin guards for the spotters.

Feet: Steel-toed boots should be sufficient for most employees, offering a balance between speed and protection. For stationary positions, make them tanks by donning ski boots.

Hands: Dexterity will be crucial for communication, so wear work gloves from the home improvement section.

2) Front door: First line of defense

The front door is a critical choke point. Tragically, it must be opened to get business.

Garrison: Position the burliest employees at this point. Our gardening department was ill-equipped to the task in 2017, and several remain in comas to this day.

Rampart: Replace motion-activated doors with inward-swinging ones. This will allow the pushing weight of the Shopper mass to immediately enter the store¬† once unlocked. It is crucial to let the flow of Shoppers in at once so as not to cause a stampede that only infuriates the Shopper.¬† Avoid use of revolving doors at all cost–remember the lessons of “Guillotine” Galveston Target, 2013.

Drawbridge: Ensure employees manning this position train for quick-release and retreat of the locking mechanism. We estimate half a second between lock drop and suffocation by trampling. If this threshold cannot be trained for, construct the Gorilla tape and cable unlocking system (Appendix A.)

3) Aisle funnel: Control the heave

Surviving Black Friday is a matter of directing the flow of the Shopper mass such that build-ups do not result in employee casualties.

Formation: The aisles must be positioned in rank and file perpendicular to the entrance wall. The Shopper mass must be sliced like a paper shredder to file neatly down an aisle nearest them after fanning out from the entry. This must occur before they have time to consider a change in direction.

Garrison: At the head of each aisle place an employee–these should be the tallest and have the throatiest, loudest voices. They will divide the flow down flanking aisles. Do not use megaphones–your soldiers need both arms to stem the onslaught, and they should be harnessed to the aisle scaffold so as not to be swept into the flow.

Signage: Black Friday deals should be anticipated and then clearly marked in order to confuse the flow into breaking up evenly into the aisles. Do not place all the most desired products in the same aisle as employees will surely die (distribute electronics products to multiple aisles).

4) Eyes in the sky: Black Friday communication

Communication. That is how your employees will get out of Black Friday alive. Communicate using 2-way radios with Bluetooth earbuds so that those on the ground will not have cords yanked from their ears and rendered blind among the heave.

Battlements: Surveillance cameras are not enough. Construct ramparts atop the ends of the aisles. We recommend curtain walls of Pampers. This birds-eye view of the battle below will allow spotters to communicate pressure points that need immediate alleviation.

Garrison: Employees who weigh least should man these positions to lessen the chance of shelving collapse (wrapping department usually has small folk). In case the Shopper mass topples aisles, the smaller the employees up top the lighter their fall.

Order of battle: Spotters will communicate to runners on the ground who battle the currents to reach those pressure points, solve disputes if possible or put down aggressors using plungers laced with chloroform.

5) Armament: Distraction techniques

The Shopper mass will attack both itself and your employees. Shopper mania is contagious and will likely escalate in intensity for all the herd by measure of the single most psychopathic Shopper among them.

Relief: All employees should be equipped with marbles. In a crunch, marbles will clear a path for the employee to escape over the slipped Shoppers.

Suppression: Eyes in the sky will be equipped with sport rifles loaded with tranquilizer darts. They will fire these on the Alpha Psychos to control levels of rage.

Hail-Mary: Readily-accessible fire alarms should be available should an employee be near death. If these cannot be installed, fire extinguishers should be made available to smote the excitable mass into retreat.

6) Checkout: Check the rout

Retailers are in this for the money. Surviving Black Friday should not take precedent over making money. Even a Shopper retreat cannot be allowed to result in stolen merchandise. Unfortunately, many employee deaths occur at this stage in Black Friday battles.

Garrison: On Black Friday, the same burly fellows who open the gates should man the checkout along with a double team of employees armed with card readers.

Battlement: Turn off the conveyor belt and instead mount kitchen stools on Lazy Susan’s here. This will give a wide field of view. Just below and behind this the double team should squat with card readers at the ready.

Weapons: Potato guns can be easily constructed with parts from your store’s plumbing section. Load up on cheap russet potatoes. This will be the last defense against fleeing shoplifters. Shoot the merch from Shoppers arms if they have not paid. Say the Lord’s Prayer before the battle begins as statistically speaking at least one of your burly defenders will perish.

7) Rear action: Last resort

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the entire workforce gets cornered in the back of the store by a resolute and cohesive mob. It is rare, but it can happen, especially if your store’s Black Friday deals built an expectation of promised products that quickly sold out.

Garrison: If this part of the Black Friday survival guide war plan is relevant to you, then half of your ranks have fallen.

Fortification: The “Authorized Personnel Only” sign will only hold back the Shopper mass for a few minutes at this stage. Ensure that sufficient material is available in the back to bar the door (we recommend using chains and padlocks, and electrifying the door’s access with a power generator.)

De-escalation: To avoid repetition of Black Friday fails like the Fried Flagstaff K-Mart Employees of 2015, ensure that all combustible products were removed from the shelves before the Day. At this point, offer a further % off to all Shoppers. If this fails, offer free everything in exchange for your lives. If this is rejected, say the Lord’s Prayer rocking back and forth, or if you are atheist, just rock back and forth.


Preparing for next year’s Black Friday

This guide should be a pragmatic resource for retailers on how to survive Black Friday Shopper mayhem. Each year brings a new dynamic, and it is important to adapt to new challenges. Last year it was Bluetooth speakers. This year… curved TVs. May God have mercy on our souls.


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