Black Friday in Fairmount: A first-hand account

The women predicted that if all went well, they could be done, including breakfast, by about 10 a.m.

Big-ticket items

People in line seemed to be focused on Garmin GPS receivers, "Rock Star" video games and Kodak digital cameras, all priced well below normal. There were vacuum cleaners and car DVD players on a number of lists. Most people were looking for specific items, but many were there just to see what kind of bargain they might discover.

While the line increased to more than 200 people, on the inside there was preparation going on as well. Store manager Jim Lougen led the daily gathering of about 50 store personnel. He reminded the staff, a bit larger than for a normal Friday, of the day's game plan. He alerted them that they would be very busy from about 6 to 10 a.m. and that the prediction was for "sales of 350 (thousand dollars), but we could do 500."

He emphasized the need for teamwork, and was sure to make staff aware of their break schedule and lunch menu. An assistant manager, with a chuckle, reminded the newer staff members that this was their "retail right of passage." With a few more words of encouragement, Lougen then released them to their work stations.

Susan-Hammerick-Hasey, part of the management team, said that "These meetings help us get our game face on." The former Cazenovia teacher, in her sixth "Black Friday" event, was sure to caution that the best spot for photos, dead center in the entry aisle was not the safest. "If you're not careful, they'll run you down," she said.

At 5:58 a.m., two store security people opened the doors, allowing the people in line a chance to prepare. Searle and Arnold, knowing that a moment's hesitation could be dangerous, edged forward expectantly.

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