As we all know, the day after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday. This day has always been the busiest shopping day of the year, as people immediately put Thanksgiving in the rear-view and start preparing for Christmas. Black Friday in 2010 has become even more hectic as sales ads for the day have been leaked to the internet, making it possible for people to plan out what they need and where they need to go to get it. It is now way more involved than just waking up at 4am and waiting in line for big sales.
Things have gotten so bad that the town of Dartmouth has decided to take action. Town officials have become fed up with the scenes of insanity that have become all too common on Black Friday. They are concerned about the personal safety of shoppers who are competing with each other for the best deals.
For those of you who’ve never woken up early to go shopping on this day, its very similar to the movie 300. The store manager (Leonidas) and his employees (Spartans) anxiously man their battle stations in anticipation of the coming onslaught. Lining the sidewalk outside and crowding around the front door stands a teeming mass of agitated customers (Persians), anxiously awaiting their opportunity to invade the store and take what they consider to be theirs.
Working at a retail store on Black Friday is even more scary than just trying to shop there. I had the unenviable task of working several 12-hour Black Friday shifts at Best Buy and Circuit City. After the initial wave of gate-crashing maniacs subsides, there is still a steady flow of people looking to spend their money. There is no eye of the storm. It just continues like this, non-stop, all day long.
The Black Friday Rampage Ordinance goes like this: Stores that open early must get a waiver, which is dependent partly upon a safety plan that the store must draw up. At this point, the town has to decide whether to accept the plan or not. If the stores don’t do this and they open early anyway, they face some rather stiff penalties: $100 per minute for the first 30 minutes. $200 per minute for the next 30 after that. And finally, if a store decides to open more than an hour early, every minute after that first hour will cost them $300. That means a store that decides to open an hour early will incur $9,000 in fines. If a store is so brazen as to open two hours early, they will owe the town $27,000 ($9,000 for the first hour, $18,000 for the second).
The Rampage Ordinance will not be in place for 2010, although the town is asking stores to voluntarily follow these guidelines as if it were. The law itself still requires the approval of the state to come into effect legally.
Regardless of whether a company is following the law this year or not, Dartmouth police officers will be present at most stores on the morning of Black Friday. Because of all the great deals to be found and money to be saved, there have been instances of people being assaulted or trampled at these stores. The town of Dartmouth believes their Rampage Ordinance will go a long way to making Black Friday safe for everyone.