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Retail workers run the gauntlet on Black Friday

  • Shoppers carry their purchases through Toronto's Eaton Center as a queue forms outside the Apple store on Friday Nov. 29, 2013 as retailers offer cut price deals to lure business and kick start the seasonal shopping. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

    Shoppers carry their purchases through Toronto's Eaton Center as a queue forms outside the Apple store on Friday Nov. 29, 2013 as retailers offer cut price deals to lure business and kick start the seasonal shopping. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

  • People shop at a Target store in Colma, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Instead of waiting for Black Friday, which is typically the year's biggest shopping day, more than a dozen major retailers opened on Thanksgiving day this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    People shop at a Target store in Colma, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Instead of waiting for Black Friday, which is typically the year's biggest shopping day, more than a dozen major retailers opened on Thanksgiving day this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Credit card machines were busy as bargain hunters at Best Buy make doorbuster purchases just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Dunwoody, Ga. All of the store's 120 employees were on hand to ring up Grey Thursday and Black Friday items when the store opened for business on Thanksgiving Day. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

    Credit card machines were busy as bargain hunters at Best Buy make doorbuster purchases just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Dunwoody, Ga. All of the store's 120 employees were on hand to ring up Grey Thursday and Black Friday items when the store opened for business on Thanksgiving Day. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

  • Credit card machines were busy as bargain hunters at Best Buy make doorbuster purchases just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Dunwoody, Ga. All of the store's 120 employees were on hand to ring up Grey Thursday and Black Friday items when the store opened for business on Thanksgiving Day. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

    Credit card machines were busy as bargain hunters at Best Buy make doorbuster purchases just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Dunwoody, Ga. All of the store's 120 employees were on hand to ring up Grey Thursday and Black Friday items when the store opened for business on Thanksgiving Day. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

  • People shop at a Target store in Colma, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Instead of waiting for Black Friday, which is typically the year's biggest shopping day, more than a dozen major retailers opened on Thanksgiving day this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    People shop at a Target store in Colma, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Instead of waiting for Black Friday, which is typically the year's biggest shopping day, more than a dozen major retailers opened on Thanksgiving day this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Ed Roberge poses for a portrait on Main Street; November 30, 2012. As the city engineer of Concord,<br/> Roberge has been a large help to the Main Street redesign project. <br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

    Ed Roberge poses for a portrait on Main Street; November 30, 2012. As the city engineer of Concord,
    Roberge has been a large help to the Main Street redesign project.
    (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

  • Shoppers carry their purchases through Toronto's Eaton Center as a queue forms outside the Apple store on Friday Nov. 29, 2013 as retailers offer cut price deals to lure business and kick start the seasonal shopping. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)
  • People shop at a Target store in Colma, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Instead of waiting for Black Friday, which is typically the year's biggest shopping day, more than a dozen major retailers opened on Thanksgiving day this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • Credit card machines were busy as bargain hunters at Best Buy make doorbuster purchases just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Dunwoody, Ga. All of the store's 120 employees were on hand to ring up Grey Thursday and Black Friday items when the store opened for business on Thanksgiving Day. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
  • Credit card machines were busy as bargain hunters at Best Buy make doorbuster purchases just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Dunwoody, Ga. All of the store's 120 employees were on hand to ring up Grey Thursday and Black Friday items when the store opened for business on Thanksgiving Day. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
  • People shop at a Target store in Colma, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. Instead of waiting for Black Friday, which is typically the year's biggest shopping day, more than a dozen major retailers opened on Thanksgiving day this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
  • Ed Roberge poses for a portrait on Main Street; November 30, 2012. As the city engineer of Concord,<br/> Roberge has been a large help to the Main Street redesign project. <br/>(SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor Staff)

Paige MacDougall took her “lunch break” yesterday at 7 a.m.

That’s because she had started a 12-hour Black Friday shift working the aisles of music and movies at f.y.e. in Steeplegate Mall at 12:30 a.m.

“I took a 15-minute nap at 7 in the morning while I was on my break,” she said. “So I kind of got my second wind.”

When she came to work just after midnight, the store had already been open since 8 p.m. Thursday. Hair pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail, MacDougall said she had made it through the night, like many shoppers, with the help of “lots of coffee and energy drinks.”

“People were still just walking around (the mall) at 3 in the morning, coffee in hand,” MacDougall said.

Unlike those Black Friday shoppers, MacDougall didn’t really have a choice about whether she would be moonlighting at the mall yesterday. As an assistant manager at the store, that was just a shift she had to work, she said with a shrug. And MacDougall was one of many employees on the other side of the register during the biggest retail day of the year.

Trish Barnes-Wilson volunteered for the hectic Black Friday hours at Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt in Steeplegate Mall, she said, because she needs to pay for her holiday shopping, too. She had been on the register since 2 a.m. yesterday and wouldn’t be done until about 4 p.m.

“I need the money,” Barnes-Wilson said, her voice matter-of-fact.

By mid-morning yesterday, manager Steve Baker was beginning his second Black Friday shift at Tutti Frutti. He began his shift with the first round of shoppers at 8 p.m. Thursday and worked until 2 a.m., then returned to the mall for a 10 a.m. shift yesterday.

Baker stocked up on supplies in anticipation for the rush of shoppers in need of a sugary boost.

“We were expecting the worst,” he said.

“We were right,” Barnes-Wilson said.

In a little more than 12 hours, the shop had already used 20 gallons of milk. On a busy weekend day, Baker said he usually only uses about five to eight gallons.

“That line was out the door (Thursday) night,” Baker said.

The mid-morning crowd was slower than the late-night surge, he said. But the store was promoting fruit cups and parfaits for breakfast shoppers.

At Target on D’Amante Drive, manager Samantha Thompson was beginning her first Black Friday shift at 8 a.m. She got to work a little early, she said, to scout out some of the store’s deals.

“I think everyone comes in energized and well-caffeinated,” she said.

Target also opened at 8 p.m. Thursday, and Thompson said some of the promotional deals were already gone when she got to work in the morning.

Cameras and iPads were among the hottest items in the first hours of Black Friday, Thompson said. In the electronics section, gaps started to appear on some shelves after 9 a.m. yesterday.

“We’re out of those,” one red-shirted employee, checking her computer screen, told a customer.

Management began to ask its employees to schedule holiday hours as early as September, Thompson said, and the majority of the store’s team would work at some point during Target’s Black Friday hours.

Steeplegate Mall General Manager Joseph Eaton began his own shift at 8 p.m. Thursday, watching over the Black Friday crowd at the mall (and the full food court at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving). And he wouldn’t be leaving until 1 p.m. yesterday.

That’s a 17-hour shift.

“Caffeine, it’s my best friend,” Eaton said.

About 40 of the more than 65 stores at the shopping center opened Thanksgiving night, he said.

Before the holiday, some shoppers complained about the stores opening on Thanksgiving, Eaton said. But the number of shoppers in the mall at 8 p.m. Thursday – and the packed mall food court on Thanksgiving night – didn’t give any indication the early start to sales was unpopular.

“At 8 p.m., the parking lot was about 80 to 90 percent full,” he said.

When Thompson would be done with her Target shift after eight hours on the job, she said she wouldn’t be joining the throng of shoppers at the store or the nearby mall.

“Sleeping,” she said with a tired laugh mid-afternoon. “Home to sleep.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

I had a student who works part-time at Best Buy tell me last week that she was going to be working from 6 pm Thanksgiving evening until 4 the next morning! That's disgusting.

For many years I ran restaurants and worked all day Thanksgiving, it simply enhanced my sense or work (that is work ethic). For many years I worked in retail, always working Black Friday and always working Christmas Eve. That was from age 22 to about 40. I seem to have turned out OK and I work harder than almost anyone I know. Your student should enjoy that kind of experience.

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