A sea of workers in red shirts gathers near customer service as store manager David Pena leads a huddle. They listen as he explains what to expect.
“No matter what happens, it's going to be very busy for about two-and-a-half hours. It will take these people about 20 minutes to pick out what they want, then the line will go all the way back to PFresh (the grocery department) and down to trim-a-tree. Our job,”
“We only have 550 shopping carts,” he added, and the employees laughed. “They will be gone almost instantly. So cart attendants, you're
Back outside, Witt was confident his crowd, the one he had spent more than three hours taming, wouldn't cause trouble. “This line is having fun,” he said. Officer Dickinson cycled by again; this time he'd stick around through the rush.
It was 50 degrees outside but felt colder. A couple huddled under a blanket together.
A woman drove up and tossed a pair of pants to her sister, who scrambled to put them on over her shorts.
Someone piped up: “two minutes early won't hurt you.”
Suddenly, it's moving. The line inches toward the door and, after hours of waiting in the chilly fall air, shoppers are inside frantically snatching items off holiday displays.
Those still outside applaud and cheer as the first person exits, a giant TV box jutting from his cart.
There's a moment of confusion as he navigates the crowd, then disappears into the dark parking lot.
After 16 minutes, the line outside is gone. And Witt begins round two of his shift: keeping the peace inside.