Janesville stores focus on customer safety

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Thursday, November 19, 2009
— Local retailers are gearing up for big crowds on Black Friday, the traditional madhouse kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

But they’re doing it with more than cash registers in mind.

Safety, both for shoppers and staff, is their foremost concern, they said.

On Black Friday last year, a Walmart worker in Long Island, New York, was trampled to death in a 5 a.m. rush of thousands of shoppers.

The Kohl’s store in the Janesville Mall this year is planning for large crowds, said Vicki Shamion, vice president of public Relations and Community Relations, Kohl's Department Stores.

“We use several methods to attempt to control crowds including stanchion sets and opening a limited number of entrances to control the flow and direction of traffic,” she said. “We position associates at the front of the store in order to answer customer questions and direct them to locations of key departments and items.”

When necessary, Kohl’s works with local authorities to make them aware of early openings and extended hours to request increased patrols, especially when large crowds are predicted.

Shane Davis, manager of the Best Buy in Janesville, said his store would work with the Janesville Police Department for help during extended hours.

This year, Best Buy will open at 5 a.m., and Davis said its likely people would camp outside the story in anticipation of “door-buster” deals.

“Two years ago, people started lining up at noon on Thanksgiving,” he said.

Davis said Best Buy customers will line up in single file and be allowed in the store 50 at a time. Inside, they’ll be directed to where they want to go, whether they have door-buster tickets or not.

“Once the line gets moving, it goes pretty smooth,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty good system.”

Over at Target, employees will give maps to customers lined up outside to help them find what they’re looking for, said Jessica Carlson, a spokeswoman for the retail chain.

“Our crowd control program has worked successfully year after year, and we continually review and refine it,” she said. “Our priority is to ensure guests and team members have a safe, secure shopping environment.”

Employees and signs inside the store will lead shoppers to the “hot deals” that will be spread out throughout the store, she said.

“People will have plenty of room to shop,” she said. “We realize people are excited about all the great deals, and we want to help then have a safe experience.”

Last updated: 11:55 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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