Businesses Prepare for Chaotic Black Friday Crowds

Story by Lacy Jamison

This year businesses around the valley took extra measures in preparing for chaotic Black Friday crowds through special employee organization and tight product management.

Small businesses like Bath & Body Works and large enterprises like Costco were highly affected by the Black Friday rush. These businesses had to make special preparations in being organized for such a hectic day.

“We hired a shuttle for employees to take so the parking lot was available for our members. Extra help is scheduled on the front end and by major sales, which are the busiest areas during these days,” said Sean Hancock, the produce supervisor of Murray’s Costco.

A lot of this preparation also went into ensuring that employees were efficient in their roles.

“Our all-store meeting was the big key in preparing our associates for Black Friday. We made sure they knew what their roles would be almost two weeks early. We also put new employees with core employees to ensure the day would go smoothly,” said Mclinn Ebert, the store manager of South Towne’s Bath & Body Works.

Businesses around the valley felt the rush as lines wrapped around their stores. Many employees often expect to encounter these high volume demands, but do not expect certain types of businesses to be encountering the same thing.

For example, most people do not realize that even banks had to take special measures in making sure their day would run smoothly.

“We had to up our security and lower the amount of money in our vaults. People are more desperate on Black Friday so there are more robberies,” said Ashley Azarow, a teller at Holiday’s US Bank.

Another serious issue that businesses had to account for was a higher demand for products. Larger crowds brought a larger demand for having enough products to accommodate the customers’ needs. Costco gauged how much product to order from the previous year’s sales.

“All items that are on coupon are ordered from our buying office in bulk and distributed amongst all warehouses according to projected sales, based off sales of similar items the previous year. When the product arrives at our warehouse, we stage them on our receiving dock and pull it to the merchandising floor as needed,” said Hancock.

Bank businesses were even forced to prepare for a higher demand of money use due to its aesthetic appeal.

“We ordered new money from the Federal Reserves. People don’t want old money around Christmas and like new money better,” said Azarow.

Most of the businesses around the valley struggled with this product issue.

“The most unsuccessful part of Black Friday was not having enough of the products that people wanted,” said Cristine Seabury, a co-manager at South Towne’s Bath & Body Works.

Another prominent issue that sparked some Black Friday woes among businesses was that some of them lacked sales in certain areas. Black Friday is an important day to sell products in bulk since it is so close to Christmas, but according to some businesses, not all products are always the most popular.

“My position [at Costco] is produce supervisor. My role during Black Friday changes a little from maintaining my area to maintaining high sales in my area, due to the fact that sales are extremely low for food items because it is after Thanksgiving and people are interested in what we call hard products, not food products,” said Hancock.

Other businesses were completely dead on Black Friday because people did not know their services were even available. This happened frequently to a lot of the banks around the valley.

“We [US Bank] ended up being very slow. People thought we were closed, like it was a federal holiday,” said Azarow.

To ensure that their day was successful, it was also common that most businesses around the valley set sales goals to take advantage of the busy day. Most set goals at how much money they wanted to make in the period they were open that day, and at how many products they wanted to see leave their stores.

With Costco being the large enterprise that it is, most of the individual stores around the valley were able to set very high goals for the day.

“This year, we [Costco] fell a little short of our goal. We were predicting sales to go beyond one million for the day. We still came close with about $987,000 in sales. Overall, the day ran smoothly and we had no problems,” said Hancock.

Smaller businesses were able to set goals more fitting to their volume size and traffic running in and out of the store.

“Our [Bath & Body Works] goal was to make $130,000 and get all 833 of our V.I.P. bags sold by 6:00 p.m. We sold all the bags but fell a little short at $110,000,” said Ebert.

When the businesses interviewed were asked if their special preparations paid off in maintaining good business on Black Friday, most responded that they were successful due to organization, advanced preparation and informed associates.

“All efforts were successful because we [Costco] were prepared and are familiar with what is needed to get done in order to keep everything running smoothly,” said Hancock.

Seabury attributed her store’s success to, “Months of planning, organization and a great team.”

Even slower businesses like the banks were happy they had been prepared for the chaotic day.

“The new money was a big success. So was the extra security-we [US Bank] had less of a chance of being robbed,” said Azarow. (919)