The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Friday, Nov. 25, 2022: A day many people have been looking forward to all year…unless you work retail.
I have worked in retail for a while, but it has hit the day I’ve long-dreaded – my first Black Friday. Like many retail stores, it is already hectic most days, but I work for The North Face, (which is already a huge name brand internationally, and it’s in the Woodbury Common Outlets (the real icing on top of the cake). For those unfamiliar with Woodbury Common, it is one of the rather large outlet malls in New York, and it’s famous for those anywhere within driving range to mob on any big holiday, meaning there are always buses, upon buses, upon buses of people coming from New York City hourly.
Like most places on Black Friday, North Face opened earlier than normal, so my already almost 45-minute drive would now also be in the dark.
5:30 am: The Alarm
The long-dreaded wake-up alarm. Even though I planned to go to bed early on Thanksgiving, it didn’t happen, so when I heard my alarm, I was pissed, though it was definitely snoozed quite a few times. Basically leaving me rushing to get ready and out to my car.
6:00 am: The Voyage to The North Face
As I actually made it out of the house with caffeine to help get me through the day, I had to sit and wait for my car to actually warm up, which definitely didn’t help timing. Though I felt like death and normally wouldn’t have left so early, I knew that the insane amount of cars trying to get into the Commons would be my great war, as Taylor Swift would say, and trying to find parking would be like finding a needle in a haystack. I didn’t actually find a spot till five minutes before I had to clock in, and it was on the other side of the mall,not to mention it had started pouring while I was pulling in.
7:30 am: Clocking into my Funeral
After barely getting in on time, it was straight into the women’s section to start trying to sell to anyone who walked in. Even though the store had only been open for an hour and a half, the floor was covered in unzipped coats and broken hangers, leaving me trying to clean up after careless customers while also trying to help those who needed different sizes, colors, etc. While this is normal at North Face, to this extent, it was not what I was expecting. I was overwhelmed and the day had barely started. Children were screaming Cocomelon at the top of their lungs, and their parents left them virtually unattended. Somehow I couldn’t tell if it was the parents or the kids who were getting on my nerves more. Meanwhile, adults were asking me simple common-knowledge questions that had answers right in front of their faces. “What is the discount on this?” was the most popular question. Our entire store was quite obviously 60% off. It was only plastered all over the store on bright signs.
11:00 am: Done…Just Kidding
Once 11:00 hit, I was mentally already done. I had come to the realization that many people were just coming in to try on jackets and then planning to go order them online. I was running back and forth to back stock getting various sizes and colors for people just for them to leave them behind after getting pictures of the name on the tag. We weren’t actually selling coats towards our sales goal, making my managers less than happy (not that they even had enough time to really notice since they were all on register or the floor). This was also about the time my walkie died, and I was essentially cut off from the rest of the store. It was like I was oblivious to what was happening outside of the women’s section. I was missing every inside joke, and I was certainly bitter about it.
12:28 pm: My Hour Escape from Hell
Finally, my break came. Yes, I remember the exact time. I was nearly in tears by this point. The second I got sent on break, I ran out the door to try to get real, non-stuffy air, which was a mistake. The second I stepped outside the door, I saw the actual line to get into the store. It went all the way around the building and was apparently “out of control” enough that the cops were called. Just making it around the line to go find a place to sit took five minutes. I was quite literally starving and dehydrated, which made the water and bagel I took from the break room nearly magical. I sat outside watching the Black Friday chaos for the hour I had before I had to head back into the storm.
3:00 pm: Maureen Plays Hide and Seek
Even though I was nearly done, the minutes were passing slower than I’d ever seen in my life. I really only had an hour left, but it was not coming any faster than 2030. By this point, I was over-interacting with other humans, which is basically my entire job. I placed myself in the back corner, “cleaning up” the same 20 coats and reorganizing the section by size, color, or literally anything that would let me stand there longer. Once my manager caught wind of my little housekeeping game, she waved me on to do something else, which is unfortunately understandable. So, I decided it was time for a bathroom break, as my manager might call it, or a 15-minute candy crush break, as I might call it. Inevitably, I did end up right back on the sales floor for another hour.
4:00 pm: Freedom
By 3:50, I was already inching my way toward the back to be the first to clock out and leave as soon as possible. The second the clock struck 3:58, I was gone. I was free, sort of. I waited my two minutes and logged in at a solid 1000 words per minute. It may have been the fastest I have ever clocked out of that insanely slow computer. I grabbed all my things (plus breakroom cookies for the road) and made the trek to the other side of the world, where my car was waiting. As I got there and darted out of the lot, I sat in an hour of traffic just to leave the Commons, but I was done…thank God.
While I normally don’t mind working, that entire weekend was by far the worst experience I’ve had in retail. The hours, the people, the clean-up, among other things, made me truly hate Black Friday more than I already did. In this day and age, though, it’s become a scam. Our store was running this same sale since at least Tuesday or Wednesday of that week, but Black Friday has the power to really bring that rush in like no other day. I did notice a lot of the sales online were just as good though, so there wasn’t really a need for all those people to stand in these hour-long lines in the pouring rain to get a sale they could have gotten from the comfort of their couches, minus the few that did just come to find their sizes, which is somewhat smart, honestly. So, will I be working Black Friday next year (or ever again)? Not a chance.