November 23, 2015
John Vomhof Jr.Staff Writer
As soon as the doors opened Saturday morning at the Best Buy store in Florence, Kentucky, a long line of customers rushed inside to get their hands on this year’s hottest doorbuster deals.
“Woo! Here we go!” a customer shouted.
“I want a TV. Where are the TVs from the ad?” asked another.
It’s a common scene that plays out on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, but this time it was just practice. The shoppers were actually Best Buy employees who had been assigned roles to help one another get ready for the busiest retail sales weekend of the year.
Best Buy holds these “dry run” training exercises at all 1,047 U.S. stores every year prior to Thanksgiving to ensure safe and smooth shopping experiences — for both customers and employees.
“We want to make sure that when our doors open on Thanksgiving we’re prepared, because there’s nothing else like it,” General Manager Josh Page told his team of more than 100 employees in Florence. “You’re going to have literally hundreds of customers walking in — not just into the store, but in your departments.”
During the trainings, employees ran through common scenarios and quizzed their co-workers with questions about the doorbuster deals in the ad. Managers reviewed Best Buy’s safety and crowd-control procedures, which include:
- Handing out tickets for the top doorbuster products to people in line. A ticket is required to buy a doorbuster item, and there are only as many tickets distributed as there are items available.
- Using taped pathways on the floors to guide shoppers to specific departments. The colors of the arrows on the floor match the colors of the doorbuster tickets.
- Hiring off-duty police officers and partnering with local law enforcement agencies to manage lines and crowds of enthusiastic shoppers.
- Controlling the flow of customers into the store, rather than just opening the doors and having a free-for-all.
“This will be my first Black Friday, and I was a little nervous before today’s practice. But now I’m pumped,” said Geek Squad Agent Alan Rios at the Katy Freeway store in Houston.
The Holiday frenzy is nothing new for Diana Joseph, the general manager at the South Tampa store in Tampa, Florida. She has worked at Best Buy for 16 years, and her family’s annual tradition is to stand in lines and shop the doorbusters.
“That’s what we’re here for this coming weekend — to help people who make the shopping experience a part of their traditions,” she said.
Visit the Best Buy website to see Black Friday deals and store hours.