Black Friday crowd is under control

Hunter Witt, who works in asset control at Target in Moore, works through the night to walk the store through its first Black Friday ever.
BY JENNIFER PALMER jpalmer@opubco.com Modified: November 25, 2011 at 7:54 pm •  Published: November 25, 2011

Sixteen minutes. That's how long it took for the line of 800 or so die-hard customers waiting outside Target on Black Friday to snake its way inside the store and begin clogging up the cash register lines.

The people nearest the door arrived at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, still digesting their Thanksgiving turkey lunch. There were only 25 of the giant, 46-inch LCD TVs to be had and some carted out more than one.

As the midnight opening approached, the parking lot swelled and a second mob of people formed — those who still wanted a chance to snag door busters but who didn't want to wait in line for hours. Cutters were quickly outed by the unified crowd, who'd gotten to know one another as the minutes ticked by. It was 23-year-old Hunter Witt who was tasked by Target with keeping order.

Witt leads the asset protection team at the Target store, which opened in July. His job is to minimize theft, catch shoplifters and, on Black Friday, the busiest day of the year, control the crowd.

8:30 p.m.

Witt arrived for his shift wearing a typical Target uniform: red shirt and khaki pants, plus a reflective jacket that reads: “Target protection specialist.” The barrier he set up on Wednesday — yellow caution tape stretched between overturned carts — is in place and people are already waiting.

His goals: Talk to every person in line and prevent people from cutting. “If you get the crowd on your side, it helps a lot,” he explained. Assistant Manager Sarah Lucas begins passing out free snacks to the crowd.

11:23 p.m.

Cashiers arrive for their 11:30 p.m. shift and Witt greets each one. Moore police officer David Dickinson clicks by on his bicycle.

A customer, about 50 spots back, asks about vouchers for the 46-inch TVs, the most sought after door buster. His buddies at the north Target store received vouchers at 11, the man tells Witt.

“It'll be 11:30,” Witt says.

“I'm ready to go if I don't get one. You're killing me here,” he replies.

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