What’s better than Black Friday savings? How about our lives, limbs, and freedom? Despite this fairly solid fact, some customers are willing to risk all these things and more to save a few dollars on the price tag. Reddit asked Retail employees of the Internet to share their scariest, most stressful, and literally bloody stories of working on Black Friday. From the old ladies who could pack a punch to friendly brown “gifts” left in the strangest places, save on these 42 Black Friday horror stories.
42. Pedal to the Petty Theft
Back in my poor college days when I worked at Walmart, we had a fight break out over a bike. Fists were thrown and there was some blood. Eventually one guy got ahold of it and managed to get away from the crowd, and he rode the bike out of the store to flee his pursuers (without paying).
41. Let It Go, Get Ahead
Last year someone posted a picture of a woman who pooped herself in Best Buy and still waited to check out. Needless to say, they let her cut the line.
40. Who Can Read on Black Friday?
I work back of house at a Toys R Us. I spent Black Friday taking big ticket items to the back, where we just loaded them into the customer’s car instead of trying to make our way to the front of the store.
Apparently, someone decided it was fine to wander into the back storage room and start opening boxes to find what they wanted. Other customers saw this one guy do it, and then decided it was ok if they did it too.
Myself and the other back-of-house guys were busy wrestling with a really obnoxious bed set, so when I made it to the other side of our back storage, I found like 8-10 people just taking cases off our bays and opening them, then tossing them aside if they didn’t want it. They claimed there was nothing indicating they couldn’t come back there. We have two signs on the swinging door saying, “Employees Only” and “Warning: Only authorized personal beyond this point!”
39. A Dry-Run on Savings
Worked security at Target for 5+ years. For being a store in the rougher part of town, I don’t have too many horror stories. The funniest one I like to tell is a couple years ago, I was there early doing crowd control. I would always talk to people in line, try to keep them entertained while they waited in the cold. The first couple in line had been there for about 13 or 14 hours.
So we open the store, and we have deals on all sorts of electronics, toys, etc. They get in line and have a shopping cart full of towels that we had on sale for $2. That’s it. Just towels. They were first in line outside and waited over half a day for $2 towels. When I left after my 12-hour shift, we still had shelves full of these towels, along with tons more in the stockroom.
38. Never Too Old to Rumble
I worked at RadioShack for a year in college. During Black Friday, one of the sale items was a $10 calculator marked down to $5. Two sweet, elderly women came in to the store looking for them. When I told them there was only one left in the display, the game was ON.
It turned into a geriatric version of roller derby without the skates. The one grandma who lost the race called the other one a slur as she was standing in the checkout line, gripping her $5 prize.
I always imagined some little kid opening presents on Christmas morning and getting this stupid $5 calculator, not really wanting it and having no clue about the back story behind it, as his grandma, sipping her tea, looks on with a triumphant gleam in her eye.
37. A Uniform Is No Excuse
Someone punched a security guard in the face because he thought he was a customer skipping to the front of the line…he was just walking in the door to start his shift. So yeah, my town has those kinds of people in it.
36. Pig out
I worked for six years at a Johnny Rockets in a mall as a server and manager. We didn’t open early like the rest of the stores because we are a restaurant and, well, we don’t serve breakfast.
Had people shake our gates screaming that they wanted food. It would be just me and an opener getting the chairs set out.
I pointed them towards the food court and told them we didn’t serve breakfast. A lady spit at me and told me, “I know you have bacon.”
We do. In a fridge waiting to be cooked and put on a burger.
Not all JRs serve breakfast. Some do, some even serve beer. But my location has never been one of them.
35. Black Friday Doesn’t Pay
A guy came for our Black Friday sale not to buy stuff, but to sue us. He intentionally spilt food on the floor and walked back over to slip in it. He gave himself a concussion and started throwing up. He tried to sue until we showed his lawyer the video.
34. Can’t Write This Injury off
Walmart story time.
A couple years ago when the sale started, there was a surge of people trying to get their stuff. One lady got knocked down and her pen went straight into her neck, thankfully missing the jugular. The messed up part is no one tried to help, they just walked over her to get their crummy deal items.
An associate who saw it happen had to stand over top of her to protect her from getting trampled. When the ambulance crew arrived, they had to literally shove people out of the way because no one would move.
33. The Cookie (and Cash) Thief
So I worked for Mrs. Fields Cookies in my local mall during Black Friday back when I was in high school. Our manager got called to a store in a different city because a manager had very severely hurt themselves melting chocolate for their chocolate dipped cookies. I end up having to work for the majority of the day with an equally lazy buddy of mine slinging cookies and taking orders for cookie cakes while the mall was packed.
Around 4 in the afternoon (and about $1,600 in sales) a gentleman in a button-down Mrs. Fields Cookies Shirt comes to our counter, telling us he had to do a midday drop for us for whatever money we had taken in in the day. I let him in the back. He tinkers for a second on the computer and ends up taking our deposits.
So now it’s an hour before closing time. My boss is now back to our location to help us close. He starts going through our paperwork and money and realizes we are about $1,600 short. I explain to him that Mr. Soandso came down to our location to do a midday drop since he didn’t work. He told me Mr. Soandso doesn’t exist and calls the corporate office. It turned out this guy had gone to over a dozen Mrs. Fields in the area and robbed over 10k worth of money. They never figured out who it was. I ended up being fired over it with my buddy. We stole a giant cookie cake as compensation. Worth it.
32. Have Fun Eating That
When I worked at Sam’s Club, during the madness one Black Friday morning, we caught a woman stuffing the inside of her pants with frozen lobster tail. She would unpackage them and throw the trash in a stack of tires that were on display.
31. Early Dismissals Come in Twos
I was fired a week before because I told a very elderly lady she shouldn’t come in on Black Friday.
She said she was afraid of getting hurt, and I agreed and let her know that we would have other great sales during the rest of the holidays.
Little did I know, my HR rep was listening in around the corner. She said that I wasn’t driving sales and she’d have to report the situation to the manager.
I got the ax a week later.
30. Fight to Play
I was a GameStop worker when the Wii came out. The second we unlocked the doors, there was a riot. People were fighting one-another, swearing, crying, just about everything. People were so desperate, when people managed to get one, somebody would throw the other person to the ground and buy it.
29. Never Too Old to Be a Threat
I was working at Target in the electronics department. Guitar Hero 3 was the hot item. The doors open…and in pours a tidal wave of dicks charging my area. An hour or two go by, and I’m slowly starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I go to get a GH3 from the stockroom to give to a nice couple. I smile, go to hand it over, they reach out to receive it and…SNATCH! An old lady starts to grab on and yank it out of my hands.
Being a strong young man, I decided to give her the psychical equivalent of a “screw off” and shake her loose. Old lady immediately seizes the opportunity with her newly emptied hands and punches me right in the throat. I instinctively put a hand to my neck as she fled back into the sea of people with her newly-acquired GH3, never to be seen again…I learned a lesson that day, never EVER underestimate the elderly.
Got Jackie Chan’ed in the gobbler for holding out on an old lady.
28. Sucker Punch
My first Black Friday, I was working at a Walmart. I was assigned to be one of the employees who would cut open the plastic on the pallets that contained our merchandise, which were all in the floor.
Basically, as I readied box cutter, I got shoved by a customer and I fell right on it and sliced my hand open. After getting through that and patching it up, I came out on the floor and promptly got punched in the face when I picked up a DVD on the ground. A customer apparently wanted it. Screw Black Friday.
27. Not the Doctor’s Orders
I worked at Walmart for 4 years and worked all Black Fridays. I’ve seen a woman hit another woman in the chest with those toddler car boxes you drive in. Woman who got hit was a week or 3 post-op off open heart surgery. Lots of blood. Right In front of me. No idea what happened to the woman who hit her. I do think she got the toy car, purchased it, and left.
26. Is That Savings in Your Pocket or Are You Happy To See Me?
Ex-Best Buy here. Four Black Fridays at the highest grossing store that day in the company gets you a few wild tales. This one is quick:
Guy tried to shove a Panasonic Blu-ray player into the front of his jeans. He was a rather large man, but dude it’s a Blu-ray player, seriously.
25. Self-Delusion Is out of Fashion
My first day working in retail was Black Friday. My store was running a promotion where you buy one novelty t-shirt and get another half off. Novelty meaning characters, phrases, things of that sort. NOT t-shirts with band names.
A woman comes up to me asking me to help her pick an even number of band tees for the sale. I kindly told her it was novelty tees only and explained what that meant. She insisted I was wrong, and I told her she could check at the register if she didn’t believe me.
Instead, the woman gathers a bunch of band tees and tells my manager at the register I told her it was rock tees, not novelty, despite the signs all over the store saying novelty. She wanted the sale honored because the “idiot new employee messed up.” My manager knew I didn’t say that and refused. The woman threw all of her stuff around, screamed, and stormed out. Whatever. Screw her, right?
When I took my lunch break, she hunted me down in the food court, threatening to punch me in the face for telling my manager I wasn’t responsible for the mix-up, “ruining her sale” aka foiling her plan to screw over my store. She chased me all the way back to my store screaming with her fists up. I hid in the back for the rest of my shift. I never even got to eat lunch.
24. Is It Hot in Here or Is It Just the Savings?
I used to work at a family-owned vintage video game store at a mall in north Austin. Naturally, the mall opened early for Black Friday at 5:00 in the morning. When I unlocked the door at 4:30, I was blasted by heat. For some reason, the mall’s heating system was outta whack, so one side of the mall was freezing, and the other was sweltering. I remember looking at the store’s thermostat and seeing that it read 95 degrees.
Not terribly exciting, but working in a mall on Black Friday in a nearly hundred degrees store is probably the closest literal example of Hell on Earth.
23. Not Worth the Denim
I worked one Black Friday in the clothes department at Walmart. For like 2 straight hours before the sale began, people hovered over the pallets. The alarm went off and the swarm just went insane.
There were two women in particular on opposite sides, tossing clothes back and forth to each other. Idk what their system was because half the stuff they were just catching and tossing aside. But this little teenager (I mean like petite tiny girl) intercepted a pair of jeans being tossed, and the women went freaking INSANE and elbowed her in the face.
Instant blood, and the little girl was so shocked she just stood there shaking and crying. The woman acted like that was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I pulled her out of the crowd and started to walk her to get her cleaned up when the sheriff appeared out of nowhere. The best part was she was his kid, and the woman was arrested on the spot. Hahaha. She had to post bail AND pay full price for her ugly Levis.
22. A Retail Emergency
We had a lady call the police on our store because we sold out of a TV. I really wish I was lying…they came too.
21. Bras and Bullets
I work at the largest lingerie retailer in the country. We had a security guard last night for the beginning of Black Friday. A southern belle mother decided she didn’t want to wait in a 50-person deep line and she would cut.
Our security guard asked her multiple times to step to the back of the line or leave. She proceeded to ream him with every curse word in the book, and ended by threatening him with a gun she had in her bag.
This will be my last holiday in retail.
20. No Price (or Act) Is Too Low
I saw an elderly woman steal an ice cream maker out of a man in a wheelchair’s electric-handicapped cart. He got a security guard, and she flat out denied it, saying the man was using his handicap to embarrass her.
I lost a little faith in humanity in that moment. I followed her and took stuff out of her cart and put it back on the shelves and put random embarrassing items in their place.
19. The Kids Can’t Wait
This year was surprisingly tame, people were all in really good moods, which in turn makes me happy. Last year, a woman yelled at me for taking too much time to finish her transaction, that her kids were in the car and she didn’t want CPS to take them. Okay then!
18. Costs an Arm and a Leg
I lost an arm. This was in 2009. My friends and I had camped outside of a corporate store in anticipation of a big sale on some new LCD televisions. Anyway, after the doors opened and all of us rushed into the store, my eye caught a glimpse of an old childhood relic that would be perfect for my son (he was five at the time). It was a Stretch Armstrong.
Long story short, I grabbed the last Stretch Armstrong on the shelf at the same time as another customer. A struggle ensued, and by the end of it, I came out the victor. Unfortunately, I noticed a puddle of corn syrup on the floor. What happened is Stretch’s left arm came off. It was gone. The other customer left it in the aisle and made his way off. He didn’t even look back. That’s how I lost an arm.
17. Not Too Young to Get Caught
Honestly, being from GeekSquad, my worst Black Friday story would just sound generic to most. Black Friday is so busy that even a 12-hour shift feels like it’s over in about an hour, because it’s so hectic.
But the entire holiday season is just a soul-crushing grind. I seriously hate the Christmas season because of it. The music, the crowds, the screaming kids. All of it, nails on a chalk board. Black Friday isn’t even that bad compared to the 2 months that follow it.
My worst Black Friday experience, though, would have to be the time a husband/wife combo used their daughter to steal some video games. The wife would go to the bathroom with their infant, the husband would slide games into the diaper bag, and then send their 3 or 4-year-old daughter to the bathroom with the diaper bag so she could crack open the cases and take the games.
We didn’t catch them on Black Friday, it was a few weeks later. But we certainly found them out that day. I remember when we saw them come in weeks later and called the cops in advance. Just waited them out, they did their thing, and when she tried to leave, the cops were waiting. The daughter’s scream as her parents were being arrested made my blood run cold. How do you use your kids like that?
16. The Five-Fingered Cure for Ignorance
I got punched in the face because I didn’t know what a zhu zhu pet was.
15. All Choked up
I worked at Old Navy in college. We would usually have several items on one table, but only one would be on sale. It was clear though, it would be like t-shirts, skirts, and sweaters and the sign would say “T-shirts $5.” One guy got super mad that everything on the table wasn’t on sale and started flipping out about false advertising.
We wore lanyards, and he grabbed my manager’s lanyard and started choking her. We were all ready to call the police, but she was a pretty tough older woman and got him to stop (and made him feel like a major loser).
14. Playing Sick for the Savings
My first day working for Best Buy was on Black Friday 8 years ago. I was controlling part of the line since I had zero training to do anything else. I had a lady saying she was going to faint. She kept saying “please just let me pay so I can get to a doctor.”
I knew she was lying and called my manager over so he could talk to her. He said, “Ma’am, they told me you were in need of medical assistance, I’ve got an ambulance on the way.” She freaked out, yelling at my manager about the line being too long and how it was his fault she was feeling sick. She looked at me and said, “This is all your fault you little witch, if you would have just let me cut the line, we’d be out of this mess.” I couldn’t help but smile.
My manager told her to leave, and said if she didn’t, he would call the cops. She tried to stay, until a random cop came in to check out the crowd. She left so quick. That was my first of 5 Black Fridays with Best Buy.
He never called for an ambulance in the first place. If we really needed one, there were a few EMTs waiting for a call in their truck outside the store.
13. More Than a Slap on the Wrist
A friend of mine had his wrist broken during a Black Friday thing. Someone pushed him out of their way to get at something and he went over a shopping cart.
This was in a clothing store in a mall, not even a major department store.
12. In the Dumps
Manager at GameStop: kid pooped on our floor because his mom didn’t want to leave and have to stand in line again.
11. Welcome to the Thunderdome
An 80-year-old grandma tackled and then bear-maced a woman over fleece fabric at my store.
The old lady wanted a cancer pink-ribbon fabric, and the woman she ultimately tackled had called ahead and ordered a bulk amount of it, because she works for a cancer organization and makes blankets for cancer patients.
The woman was wheeling a cart in the store with several large bolts of the fabric in it (which she had special ordered, and we put it in the cart for her, so she could continue shopping.) Old lady sees that this woman has “ALL the bolts” and it isn’t right that she’s hogging the entire stock of that particular print. The woman explains the situation and that she in fact special ordered these, and that the reason she was coming in on Black Friday to purchase them is because they were a major Black Friday promotion at 60% off.
The old lady continues to yell at the poor woman. The woman very calmly keeps trying to reassure her that she is not taking any of the store stock, and that she makes blankets for dying women with breast cancer. She is a very sweet store regular who pays out of pocket for all the blankets, and so my store held the fabric for her until Black Friday, when she would come in and purchase them with her coupon.
Old lady doesn’t give a darn. Whips out mace and tackles the woman.
Old lady gets kicked out of the store. She would come in once every couple of months, give me the stink eye, and then rebelliously write down recipes from the home and food magazines so she wouldn’t have to buy them. Then she’d scurry out and come back in a few months.
10. Fur Is (Almost) Murder
I’m dating myself here. When I was in college, I worked at a toy store, and it was the year of the Furbies. They were really hard to get, and our site only got 10 of them.
We were instructed to pass out numbers rather than the actual toys to the first 9 in line. I was the lucky one to pass out numbers.
When we opened our doors, it was pretty organized because we had set up lines and it was also a high-end neighborhood. I gave the first person their number and then all of a sudden, I am tackled from behind.
This woman slammed into me and knocked me to the floor and ripped the tickets out of my hand, breaking two fingers. All for freaking numbers.
How dumb was she? The store refused to give her a Furby for her numbers, and was trying to detain her until the cops showed up, but she decked our manager and walked out.
9. Not Ready to Pound Down
Around 10 years ago, I worked for Best Buy. I was hired as a seasonal employee while in college, and actually enjoyed working there most of the time. Unfortunately, Black Friday ended my enjoyment for the big box retailer. The year that the PS2 came out, I was in charge of issuing the systems to customers with vouchers (the ones who stayed all night camping out). The customers would approach me, and I kept 2 systems in my arms at a time and would go from the stock room to the floor in order to give out each system.
On one trip out of the stockroom, a gentleman (early 40s) approached me and proceeded to (try to) yank a system out of my hands and run with it. As an aside, I’m no small fellow. As the [im]mature gentleman attempted the grab and go, I simply tightened my grip and calmly said, “Your ticket first, sir.” He rebutted with, “I don’t have a ticket, and I don’t need one; I seen this thing first, so it’s mine.” After a brief explanation of the voucher system, the man and his wife only seemed more angered that I refused to surrender the PS2.
To really convince me to give him the system, the gentleman then proceeded to say, “Okay, well I guess I’ll have to whip your butt for it.” Perhaps of my own naivety, or the adrenaline, I responded, “Sounds great, let me clock out first, and I’ll meet you outside shortly.” A little taken back by my response, the gentleman started to profusely apologize and even teared up, giving me some sob story over why he deserved it. Of course, I didn’t surrender the system.
Needless to say, this was one of the reasons I did not hang around BB for much longer. Sheer stupidity. A grown man trying to fight a 19-year-old who made $8.00/hr for a video game system. Brilliant.
8. Nothing Gets Between Him and His Calvins
Τhe customer who took a dump in one оf my fitting rooms and then wiped hіs butt with a $125 Polo Ralph Lauren shirt. Nothing more needs to be said.
7. Who Needs Fighting Games at This Point?
Years ago, I got hired as seasonal help for Toys R Us. It was before they redesigned the stores into their current mess and everything was in long aisles. I got stuck in aisle one, which was board games on one side and the big glass case of video games on the other. This was the year that Super Nintendo came out, so we had one behind the glass with a controller outside, so you could try out Super Mario Land.
I’m up on a ladder getting more copies of Crocodile Dentist down to restock the lower shelves, and hear some yelling. I look down, and two kids are shoving each other in front of the SNES. They start swinging at each other and the parents intervene, only to start fighting themselves. I slide down the ladder and my manager rushes over to try and stop things from getting worse. One of the parents had a bat in his cart, and hits the other guy square in the back, knocking him into the display cabinet, shattering the glass, and cutting him up really good.
The guy with the bat realizes what he did and grabs his kids and tries to make a run for the door. Management was trying to block him from leaving as they went, and got the cop who was outside directing traffic. The police came in and wrestled this guy to the ground while his kids watched. He resisted and got a serious beatdown in the middle of the store. The other guy who went through the glass was cut up and bleeding really bad. He ended up losing an eye over the whole thing. After this was all over, we had to lock up the SNES, and you could only try it out if management opened the case for you.
The other really messed up part of this whole thing was that people were taking toys out of the cart of the cut-up guy’s cart as EMTs worked on him and his kid sat there crying. One woman even tried to take the blood-splattered demo SNES out of the broken case to try to buy for her kid. People are heartless, mindless sheep when it comes to cheap stuff. Ever since this, I spend my Black Fridays at home.
6. Didn’t Snooze, Still Lose
I think it was around Black Friday 2004 and I was a cart pusher at a Walmart. In this particular year, Walmart offered a plasma TV at an extremely low price and it was the hottest deal of the year. A man showed up the Tuesday before the big sale with a tent, ice coolers, generator, TV, and everything he needed to brave the three nights he would be staying over. He continuously talked about being first in line and how he was going to get the plasma TV and how he was hosting the next Super Bowl party so this was just going to be the best thing ever.
Come around Thursday night, I showed up to my shift and he was still there in a jolly mood, thankful he was about to be able to go home and sleep in his own bed. The news came, and he did a short interview and explained what he was waiting for, how he was able to get the time off (he was a truck driver) and was overall excited over the whole ordeal and prided himself for toughing out the cold. The line for the entrance wrapped around the whole front of the door and about another 300 yards or so past the store, with thousands of people waiting to get in. At 5:00 am, the doors opened and the man goes straight to the plasma TVs to see that they were all gone.
What happened? The garden center at the Walmart opened up about 10 seconds before the front doors, and those that came the night before scooped up all 15 plasma TVs. This guy who had been there since Tuesday afternoon was dumbfounded and argued with management, but was stonewalled and told there was nothing that can be done. That guy’s Thanksgiving was a bust for sure.
5. The Pressure Can Be Crushing
I worked at the Walmart in Green Acres mall in Valley Stream, NY. Was working the day one of my fellow co workers got crushed to death by a large crowd who broke the doors and gate outside. That moment changed Black Friday for the retail world forever. I quit after that, was not ready to lose my life to some TVs.
4. Parting Gifts
I worked for BB for 6 years. Everyone knows about the lines that you stand in outside. Part of the process is once you get into the store, you stand in another line to buy your products. Our manger thought he was particularly smart winding the line through our appliance department. Mind you, there is usually 1,500+ people in the building at 6 am (with a line still outside).
Well, we get a complaint from one of our patrons. After checking the dryers, we find a nice turd in one. Good size, solid consistency, just sitting there. A lady who did not want to lose her spot opened the dryer and pooped right there in front of everyone. I decided that day even though I may want stuff, I will never poop in front of an entire crowd of people for $799 50″ plasma TV.
3. Bullies Can’t Play With Us
I’ve thrown one punch in my life. It was on Black Friday.
So it was the year the 360 came out. I was standing in line to get some external hard drive next to the video games. And there was this 11ish-year-old kid with a woman in her 60s. He was waiting for his 360 bundle. Woman before him had “gotten the last one,” sighs all around. Then he says, “Nope, one more” and begins the motion of handing it to the kid, and this guy comes out of nowhere and pushed the older woman and the kid.
The kid hit his face on the edge of a video game rack, you know the one with the metal and plastic dividers. At 19 years old I don’t know what came over me, but I instantly swung for the dude’s head and caught him right in the temple, sending him into a Keurig tower in the middle of the isle. Everyone froze, including me. Guy had dropped the 360 and got up and walked away. I slid it with my foot to the kid and he didn’t say anything either.
Best part was, as I still wanted the hard drive, and I turned to get back in the end of the line. At the same time the rep in charge of handing out the other items such as the hard drive asked who was next. The first two people in line just pointed at me, causing me to skip about 5 spots in line.
2. Cut out for Competition
I was working at a GameStop in 2010 on Black Friday. Saw a kid pull a plastic knife from the food court on another kid. I almost passed out laughing.
1. From Savings to the Slammer
Guy tried to steal a bluetooth speaker this Black Friday at Best Buy. After we caught him and called the cops, he was searched. The cops ended up discovering three items he was hiding.
- Loaded gun (he did not have a concealed carry permit nor was it a registered weapon)
- Bag of illicit substances
- JBL Flip 3 Speaker
This man will now be serving hard time because he wanted an $80 speaker. Nice.