Business

Boise shoppers kept some sleep-deprived workers on their toes on Black Friday

It was 10 a.m. when Daniel Wood started to lose his voice.

The 25-year-old Best Buy employee had been awake for 24 hours. He was rounding the last corner of his first Black Friday shift at the Boise store at Franklin Road and Milwaukee Street.

The store had opened at midnight, but Wood and his co-workers arrived late Thanksgiving Day to get the store ready, putting blue tape on the floor so customers would know where to stand in line and making other preparations.

Wood, whose specialty is computers and tablets, spent the midnight hour calling out “hot ticket” deals to customers waiting outside.

He’d been up since 9 a.m. Thursday. He spent Thanksgiving with his fiancee’s family in Homedale, then headed to work.

“It’s nothing a few energy drinks can’t take care of,” said Wood, who drank four of them during his 12-hour shift.

There had been some backlash before the holiday against plans by some national chains, including Best Buy, Target and Toys R Us, to open either at midnight or on Thanksgiving night.

But customers at Best Buy seemed calmer than in years past. Employees guessed that was because of the earlier openings and staggered starting times for “doorbuster” sales around the Treasure Valley.

At Best Buy, the night-owl crowd was the largest some employees had seen in years. The line of 1,500 or so people snaked around the store and through the parking lot, winding back to Franklin Road. Whole families set up with their dogs, campfires and meals starting on Wednesday night.

“Some people had their Thanksgiving dinner out there,” said Alan Dettman, who worked in the laptop and tablet area. This was his second Black Friday.

When Dettman drove by the store around 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving, “people asked if I wanted to join them” for dinner.

Dettman, who arrived for work at 2:30 a.m., planned to work his second job upon leaving Best Buy after about 12 hours. He is a manager at the Knitting Factory concert house in Downtown Boise.

Dettman wasn’t the only person to pack several days of work into Thanksgiving weekend.

SHOP TILL YOU DROP

Riley Zahm, 23, spent his first Black Friday at Best Buy helping shoppers pick out laptops and other electronic devices. He works two other jobs, too.

Zahm hadn’t slept in three days. He drank two cups of black coffee to stay awake.

Retailers around the Valley supplied their Black Friday workers with food and caffeine. Best Buy brought in a Shari’s Restaurant breakfast and an Olive Garden lunch. The break room refrigerator was packed with soda pop.

After the first few hours of Black Friday madness, the day became “like a regular Saturday,” Zahm said.

“Nobody’s very grumpy,” he said. “You can joke with (shoppers) back and forth.”

As noon approached, some employees got punchy. Zahm broke into song, turning The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” into “Lock the Cash Box” and belting out a duet of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” with a customer.

The shoppers were punchy, too. Joe Hageman of Boise, the singing customer, had been awake since Thursday morning. By Friday morning, he had been to Walmart, Fred Meyer, the Boise Towne Square mall and Target.

“And Best Buy, twice,” he said, proudly holding up a new iPad.

His next stops: Starbucks and IHOP.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448

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