The view from the other side of that ‘Black Friday' counter at Woodbury Common

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    CENTRAL VALLEY-On Black Friday at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlet, shoppers jammed-packed the outlet stores to the point in which the New York State thruway exit to the Commons had to be shut down. But as shoppers grabbed merchandise from the shelves, paid for their items and even walked through the store's front doors, there were people, the "unsung," who let Black Friday be the kickoff for the holiday season for shoppers. "It was like being in pandemonium, like in the middle of Wall Street when the bell rings," said 17 year-old Jarrett Kalish, a sales associate at the Calvin Klein store working his second Black Friday at the mega-outlet shopping area. Kalish worked an eight-hour shift on Black Friday, or as he called it, "the Super-Bowl of our business." The student who hopes to pursue communications in college next year, worked from 4:30 in the afternoon until 12:30 the next morning. "We spent 4-5 hours after the store closed, just cleaning up," Kalish recounted. "We were prepared to go home at 2:30 in the morning but got things done by 12:30, which is was amazing." When asked about parking and traffic, Kalish laughed and shook his head. "All the parking lots were full so my Mother had to drop me off. For other workers, they had to park at the train station and were taken by bus to the Commons," he said. "The parking lot and entrances to the Commons were the craziest I ever saw in my life," the Highland Mills resident continued. Mike Chizhov, a 16 year-old student from the town of Monroe, worked a nine-hour shift at the Polo store outlet last Friday. He, too, said he got an education on a day retailers eagerly await. "It was like a classroom, without order, no rules, no teacher, just madness," Chizhov said. When Chizhov showed up for his 6 a.m. shift, before the stores even opened, there were huge lines of people waiting to get inside. "I couldn't believe it when I saw it," he said. "My managers said that people had been on line since 4:00 in the morning." Managers at most if not all store locations had a lot of extra help for the "big day," as many retailers refer to it. At the Polo store, there was management from the company's corporate offices present, assessing how the store was holding up as shoppers continued coming through the doors all day. There also were 10 more sales associates present, as clothing flew off the shelves. Cash registers opened and closed at a frantic pace. Not far from Polo, die-hard shoppers also formed lines at Calvin Klein. The lines were controlled by guards, almost as if they were bouncers at a club, who let only a certain amount of shoppers in the store at a time. The lines did not die down, even into the afternoon hours. It might have been a day of havoc and stress, described by both workers and shoppers, but retailers walked away happy, as they usually do on this day which Kalish describes as "a day which has almost become a holiday for many." Shoppers weren't that disappointed either, as they left the stores with bargains. Many people said that they had gotten all of their holiday shopping done and that they had saved a large amount of money. Diane Bonauro and Jackie Badalato, both 19 -year-olds, came up from Brooklyn, looking for bargains. "We don't have too much money, but we're doing our best; they have some good sales," said Badalato who works on Wall Street, as Bonauro, a college student and part-time waitress, nodded in agreement. "We'll see how far our money can take us." Kalish said that he was surprised that Polo shoppers generally respected him, something that many usually do not do on a regular basis. "I think they felt for us and understood the tough situation we were in." "I am a very humble person when it comes to my job, but there is a need for workers like me," he added. "We put great effort into what we do and are not recognized, when really we are the manifestation of Santa's elves."