1. Taking candy from a baby
On November 27, 2015 a video went viral showing a Black Friday gone crazy at a Walmart in Saginaw, Texas. The video taken by an anonymous employee (who filmed instead of helping) captured the moment the store opened, and the people rushing in like water through a floodgate.
The video shows a woman with her young child going for a stack of vegetable steamers, while a dozen other crazy souls dove for one like football players on a fumble. She grabbed two, and her daughter carried another. And even though two Walmart employees were standing right there, a lovely individual ripped the box out of the little girl’s hands and a fight ensues. Stealing from a child; are we feeling the Christmas spirit people?!
2. No hoax, just paint it black
The video is so unbelievable many have called it a hoax, but to those who’ve experienced the madness of Black Friday, it was all too real. The biggest retail day of the year started with the best intentions, but because it’s named after a terrible event, its no wonder it devolved into shear mayhem.
Black Friday was first referenced in the United States on Friday September 24, 1869, when two other lovely individuals drove up the cost of gold causing a major financial crash when the price adjusted. It’s also associated with the stock market crash of Black Tuesday in 1929. With these negative origins of the name, it’s little wonder there would be so many crazy stories collected over the years.
3. Trampled and screaming
It was Abraham Lincoln who signed legislation to make Thanksgiving in November (on the last Thursday), and folks in North Buffalo probably take exception to that decision. At 4 a.m. on November 25, 2011, the temperature was below freezing and a crowd had been standing outside for 9 hours when the doors finally opened at a Super Target store.
The crowd was frantic to get out of the cold, it didn’t even wait for the doors to fully open. In a viral video, you can actually hear the screams of shoppers being trampled as crowds funnel through the door like sand through an hour glass. Do savings actually make people this crazy? Given the stories we collected, the answer is a resounding, “yes!”
4. A gentleman’s agreement used to keep Black Friday civil
Thanksgiving Day parades actually began in Canada by the Eaton department store in the early 1900s, but when Macy’s decided to celebrate its success during the Roaring 20s, their grandiose Thanksgiving Day parade stole the show and never looked back.
Retailers in those days had a gentlemen’s agreement to not release their discounts until after Thanksgiving. Lo and behold, Black Friday was born. Of course, it was introduced to provide savings when shopping for Christmas gifts, but it was the shoppers who turned the event into the fiasco that it became, which brings us to our next crazy Black Friday moment.
5. Tears from tasers
Retailers in the 2000s started violating the gentlemen’s agreement of holding their savings until Black Friday, and those that did adhere to the rules started opening at midnight. Case in point was the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia on November 29, 2013.
At around 2:30 a.m., two women started a fight in the mall and were seen rolling on the floor. Punches were exchanged, and just as one of the them gets the upper hand, the other produces a taser and starts blasting like she’s Nicola Tesla. It wasn’t clear what started the fight, or who was in the right, but we can sure give loud applause for humanity when bringing a taser to Christmas shopping becomes necessary. (Note: The last sentence is sarcasm.)
There have been many instances of people taking things way too far on Black Friday, where people effectively sell their souls for savings. For this reason (and others) Black Friday is slowly starting to decay. However, it would’ve been gone altogether if it hadn’t been for President Franklin Roosevelt.
After the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday, Christmas shopping went down drastically. Ten years later, in October 1939, FDR moved Thanksgiving up to the fourth Thursday of November, believing retailers would benefit from the extra week. But because the announcement came in October, only 32 states went along with it, calling it “Franksgiving” thanks to the President.
7. A Walmart parking lot duel
In the same year as the taser incident (2013) experts tracked a 22% increase in sales for companies that opened their stores on Thanksgiving Day. As shopping entered into the evening hours, the darkness of night seemed to rub off on people’s souls.
In a parking lot outside of a Walmart in Tazewell County, Virginia at around 6:30 p.m., when two men should’ve been struggling to stay conscious after their Thanksgiving dinner, instead argued over a parking spot. Neither one was capable of being the bigger man, so one produced a gun, and another brandished a knife. In a rare moment in history, the knife brought to the gun fight won out. Both men survived. Then both men lost when they were arrested and put on $5,000 bond.
8. Creating a barrier
Assuming those men made it out of jail for Christmas, posting that $5,000 bond must’ve made for horrible shopping. There’s absolutely no evidence, but their stockings were probably also filled with coal. Likewise for our next upstanding citizen who should’ve also ended up in jail.
Vince Plowman worked at a Toys “R” Us when an incredible thing happened. A desperate shopper made it into the store, and then sprayed mace behind them as they sprinted toward the electronics section. The poison gas choked the crowd behind as the shopper got first dibs on electronics with slashed prices. All he had to do for the savings was surrender his decency.
9. Thank you baby boomers!
In 1941 congress put an end to “Franksgiving,” and Thanksgiving has been indisputably celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. And if you have Black Friday off, you can thank the Baby Boomers. Angry bosses got fed up with their workers calling in sick every Friday after Thanksgiving, so eventually they gave in.
With increased crowds packing into stores on Black Friday, it afforded retailers a chance to conduct a sort of social experiment. Incidents of violence in stores were rare, but perhaps that’s because there wasn’t any social media around to catch them in the act. Now, there’s no end to the mischief, and we have the stories to prove it.
10. Cops and robbers go to the hospital
One just has to wonder what exactly it is that turns people into zombies thirsting for savings on Black Friday. Is it the crowds? The long lines? Mob mentality? Or is it simply the savings? In our next crazy Black Friday moment, we can conclude it’s the savings, although slashed prices weren’t enough of a discount for two men in Romeoville, Illinois.
It was 10 p.m. at a Kohl’s store on Thanksgiving night in 2013, and two men had designs on stealing their Christmas presents. The police were in the parking lot and got the call that someone was shoplifting. All of the sudden, a man named Robert Russell came running out of the store.
11. It’s time to take things too far
Russell sprinted toward a car that had the engine running, and he hopped into the passenger seat. Before he could even shut the door one of the officers was one him and tried to arrest him. Russell kept trying to shut the door and kick the officer out, as the getaway driver started taking off.
As the officer was being dragged through the parking lot, his partner in crime opened fire on the moving vehicle. All of the sudden, a simple shoplifting case escalated into a life and death struggle. Bullets smashed the back windshield and struck the driver in the arm. The car stopped, and the two men were arrested.
12. Thanksgiving strikes back
Fortunately, everyone lived in that crazy incident, even though the driver and the officer went to the hospital afterwards. Can you imagine grown men behaving like that on Thanksgiving? Probably, but in recent years, Thanksgiving dinner is making a comeback, as shoppers are coming to stores less and less.
Of course, that doesn’t matter for employees of stores that open on Thanksgiving. An employee of the Menlo Park Mall in New Jersey launched a petition to stay closed on the holiday. He said, “The fact that we may not… be able to spend a National Holiday that gives thanks for our families with our family is absolutely… absurd!” Give our next story, it’s understandable why he wants to stay away from work.
13. Xbox and Wii fight, but not against each other
Our next incident comes to us from Porter Ranch in Los Angeles, California at a, you guessed it, Walmart (note: Black Friday thrill seekers, go to Walmart). On Thanksgiving evening at 9:55 p.m. patient shoppers turned into figurative zombies, and only Xbox and Wii video game consoles could feed them.
The store was supposed to open at 10:00 p.m., but five minutes before, eye witnesses saw plastic wrap flying in the air as shoppers started ripping packaging to shreds. The crowd moved in on itself and a mob of about 20 people turned on each other. At that moment, a cloud of pepper spray engulfed the mob and a mad frenzy ensued as everyone ran for the door.
14. “Competitive shopping” reaches a whole new level
People’s faces began itching as their eyes welled up and breathing became labored. The woman who did it, either to defend herself or to get a leg up on her fellow shoppers, must’ve realized what she had just done, because she ran from the store and never looked back.
No reports emerged of the woman being arrested, so it’s likely she got away. The Los Angeles Fire Department arrived on the scene with police, and the chief was good humored about the situation when he said, “She was competitive shopping.” That’s a whole new level of competitive, and given how advertisers started marketing Black Friday, it’s no wonder it turned out this way.
15. Black Friday was “Big Friday”
What’s worse than a crowded mall full of people? Nothing, actually, but a close second is terrible traffic. It was actually Philadelphia police who coined the phrase “Black Friday,” and mostly it had to do with the mayhem caused by the Army Navy football game.
The police hated the day. Crowds were massive, and above all, so many of them had to work the day after Thanksgiving. The name stuck, and when retailers got ahold of it, they tried to change it to “Big Friday” in attempt to get rid of the negative connotations of the name. But even though it was first seen in print in 1966, it wasn’t recognized nationally until the 1990s.
16. From red to Black Friday
There must be some positive connotation to Black Friday however, given that over 100 million people braved the crowds on Black Friday in 2016. It was in the late 1980s when advertisers turned the tide on the Black Friday stigma, and transformed it into a retailer’s dream.
The accounting concept of turning “red to black” became the rallying cry for stores. The notion spread that it was the time of year that retailers turned their accouting books from being in the red to being in the black (i.e., negative revenue to positive revenue). Advertisers rejoiced as sales sky rocketed, but in fact, it was a fallacy. Most stores make the most money on the Saturday before Christmas. Procrastinating is something forgivable, unlike these next two formally upstanding citizens.
17. Mullet man versus bald man
In the predawn hours outside of a Target in Bowling Green, Kentucky on Black Friday 2012, a line of people started entering the store. A row of carts separated the line from the rest of the crowd, and people started funneling in line like juice sucked through a straw.
Two women try to cut the line, and a big, bald gentleman manhandles them back. That didn’t sit well with the mullet sporting man with them, as he hurdled the grocery carts and attacked the bald man. Moments later, he can be heard screaming to be released, and like so many times in history, the mullet lost to baldness.
18. Waffle iron riot of 2011
Does anyone remember the waffle iron riot of 2011? Once again, we return to Walmart, and this time we’re in Little Rock, Arkansas. A waffle iron is typically not at the top of people’s Christmas lists, but when you slap a $2 price tag on it, all of the sudden people felt like they had to have it.
A viral video makes it look like hungry wolves are devouring their dinner, but instead, its shoppers scrambling for the product they’ll probably never use. They’re so agitated and excited that screams can be heard while onlookers gawk at the spectacle unfolding in front of them.
19. Black Friday shoppers beware
Perhaps you noticed that many of these incidents take place in a certain geographical location. Every year consumer reports come out that display which are the most dangerous states to shop in on Black Friday. If you’re in New England, or the Northwest, you’re safe.
But if you’re in the South or the Midwest, you might be in danger. According to reviews.org, the top four states with the biggest risk of violence on Black Friday are Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, with Tennessee topping the list. The plague of craziness on Black Friday is something that will probably not be cured in the US, and it has also afflicted many in other countries.
20. A global phenomenon
That’s right folks, Black Friday madness has gone north, skipped across the pond, and circled the globe. While Thanksgiving remains an American holiday, many retailers with an international presence are headquartered here. Effective marketing has trained Europeans, Canadians, and Australians to respect the savings they can get on Black Friday.
In 2016 people in Britain alone spent over $3 billion, and with that kind of volume comes a sort of social experiment along with it. And since Britain’s spend 60% of the money spent at retail stores on Black Friday across Europe, you can imagine it’s about as crazy as the United States.
21. Ever heard of Asda? You have, but just don’t know it
The concept of Black Friday is new to Britain, and Amazon is credited with introducing it there in 2010. And while the craziness followed, it was a such a new concept that many innocent Britain’s got caught up in the fervor.
By 2013 crowds in England started looking like crowds in the United States, likely because they thought that’s how they’re supposed to behave given all the viral videos they had to train them. But at least now we’ll be done taking shots at Walmart, opting instead for the British store Asda. Oh shoot, you know who owns Asda? You guessed it: Walmart.
22. Running of the Irish
The year 2013 seems as if it’s the magic year for Black Friday, where the craziness reached a fevered pitch across the globe. Asdas in Ireland and England saw crowds line up for deals just like in the States, and reports from many stores speak of the same kind of “running of the bulls” we see in the States.
In the Northern Ireland capital of Belfast, it was reported by Asda employees that there was a, “stampede over cut-price televisions.” And on the same day at an Asda in Bristol, two men got into a fight over the same product.
23. “28 Days Later” Black Friday style
Now, imagine you‘re Jamie Hook, a resident of a suburb in England, who’s visiting his local supermarket on Friday November 28, 2014. He wasn’t interested in Black Friday savings. In fact, he didn’t even know what Black Friday was, because it was still a foreign concept.
Hook walks into his local Tesco Lotus (think British Walmart), and then is frozen stiff with fear as he witnesses the scene in front of him unfold. He later told a reporter that he saw: “People climbing over shelves and displays, staff running for cover, fights breaking out, stock flying through air, people breaking through carrying televisions — and this was before the sale had even started!”
24. “Braveheart,” Black Friday style
The scene Hook describes sounds more like a scene out of the British zombie classic 28 Days Later than it does a normal day at the supermarket. According to the same report, police arrived at the seen and “begged” shoppers to stop the madness. You can imagine how that went.
In the same year in Scotland, a ravenous crowd thirsty for flat screen TVs devoured a stack of them in less than 30 seconds. The mayhem that ensued lasted twice as long, as the most powerful shoppers tore TVs away form the grips of the less formidable. Only when police arrived did the craziness subside, and muffled four letter words are still audible.
25. An unappreciated social experiment
We’re going back to Bristol for this next moment of charity and goodwill. Well, the first part is true, while charity and goodness will have to take a back seat until Christmas. We’re also going back to Tesco Lotus, and adding in some ingredients for a social experiment gone wrong, but upping the ante — we’re talking about discounted flat screen TVs.
Why do store employees put the slab of products in front of ravenous crowds of hungry onlookers? Perhaps it’s the thrill of what unfolds, because plastic and cardboard fly through the air as the crowd beyond moves in. Flat screen TVs are trampled, and those who got away with one likely filled their warranties the very next day.
26. Is Black Friday dead?
If you noticed that the majority of the crazy moments of Black Friday past occurred within the last decade, then your observation skills are top notch. But the tide may be turning on Black Friday, and frenzied crowds are part of the reason.
With the exception of 2008 (the year the Great Recession), retail trends were up until 2016. A number of reasons contributed to the decline, such as stores offering discounts beyond just Black Friday. Savvy shoppers will listen to the finance experts and look for savings on different products at different times. For example, shoe stores offer more savings in April, when they need people to get back outside.
25. The employee force strikes back
One of the other big reasons why Black Friday is decaying is because retailers are starting to hear their employees cries to close their stores on the Thanksgiving holiday. What employee would enjoy such a thing? Instead of eating their turkey dinners with their families, they’re watching hungry mobs feast on uncivilized materialism.
Eventually, retailers got the message, and this is really when the tide began to roll back. As of 2018, blackfriday.com obtained word from 60 different retailers, including Costco and Nordstrom, that they had decided to give their employees the holiday off and keep their doors shut on Thanksgiving.
26. Anti-Black Friday movement
The year 2013, the year of the most violent transgressions (or just the year when people were most ready with their cameras), brought backlash with it. Those who saw the videos were entertained, but a group of New York City protesters thought it was disgusting.
On Black Friday in 2014, a mob of people entered the Herald Square Macy’s on W 34th Street. Not only is it the flagship Macy’s store, but up until 2009, it was largest store in the world. Protesters brandishing signs that said “Shut it down,” and “Don’t shoot,” walked through the store, and led a march in Times Square demanding an end to the madness.
27. Goodbye Black Friday, hello Cyber Monday
It’s interesting that Amazon was the one that introduced the concept of Black Friday in Britain, given that they are mostly responsible for the death of it in the United States. Violent and unruly crowds coupled with year-round savings have crippled Black Friday, but nothing quite drove home the death nail like Cyber Monday.
In 2016 consumer indexes starting charting the first significant decline in shoppers visiting retail stores. In fact, between 2016 and 2017, the number of shoppers visiting retail stores dropped nearly 5%. When you take into account how many people participate in Black Friday, 5% means millions opted to stay at home.
28. The new battle: Prime Day versus Black Friday
Cyber Monday will never see the masses rising like zombies feasting on savings and ridding themselves of their humanity. Competitive shopping in the online world is done in the comfort of one’s home, presumably without the need for pepper spray.
Amazon has effected the market in another way in the form of Prime Day. According to consumer reports, Amazon offered savings on Prime Day for 77% of their products that beat Black Friday savings. To combat Prime Day, stores like JC Penney, Target, and Macy’s had to offer Black Friday savings in July to match it. That’s not good for Black Friday sales, as savvy shoppers will learn when to shop, and when to order goods offline.
29. Another fight: Cyber Monday versus Black Friday
Between 2016 and 2017 the world has seen a massive uptick in Cyber Monday sales versus Black Friday. Fortunately for some retailers like Best Buy, they were already set up for success by selling their products online. But stores like Sears, who used to be a part of the Black Friday phenomenon, have recently declared bankruptcy.
A consumer report indicated that online sales were up almost 17% from 2016 to 2017, and experts agree the trend is only going to continue. In an era when people can get their groceries online, it’s no wonder why they’d opt to get their Christmas savings from the confines (and safety) of their own home.
30. Black Friday lives!
Alas, Black Friday is not dead and it’s the spectacle of it that’s truly responsible for saving it. A survey taken in 2017 found that even a large portion of tech-savvy millennials ages 18 to 22 will visit a retail store on Black Friday. According to the survey, 42% of them were getting in on the savings, and the craziness.
“They want to experience the excitement of the event firsthand,” an expert said. After all, if shoppers don’t get caught up in the fight, they get to witness an amazing show. A horror movie unfolding before their eyes where humanity is reduced to some implacable, brain washed being hell bent on savings.” Godspeed Black Friday shoppers.