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Black Friday at the Sabres Store

November 25, 2011

I’m not a fan of Black Friday shopping. I hate crowds. I hate being crowded. I hate getting stumbled into because people need to have that thing that’s on sale OMG RIGHT NOW! So of course, what do I do today? I go to the Sabres store for their Black Friday sale. There were A LOT of people at the store when I got there at ten after ten.

There were some things the store did right and some things that they could fix. And of course, since I can’t find the darn suggestion box on the Sabres site (whether it’s buried or removed is to be determined), I’m blogging about the experience. Let the record show that I recognize that problems with shopping are a total first world problem and that there are much bigger problems for the organization to be dealing with. Like that whole pesky “can’t win at home” thing or that troublesome “keeps giving up two goal leads” thing.

Since the store was incredibly busy, the Sabres had all the registers open, and all six register lines snaked through the store. People were handling the crowding well and moving around the store politely (there were lots of “excuse me’s” to be had). However, let’s talk briefly about the few things that can be fixed or altered to improve the shopping experience for future Black Fridays.

1. Make a cash-only line. I know, it’s radical for people to pay with cash these days, but a cash-only line would allow for customers to move in and out without having to wait for people to swipe cards, sign receipts and the like.

2. Have a table set off to the side/back/front of the store so that people could complete the required paperwork for custom jersey orders without having to delay the rest of the line. If you were buying a custom sweater, you had to have a 3×5 card filled out with your contact info & the size/color/personalization of the sweater you were buying. The cashier then had to match up your 3×5 card with the receipt number so the transaction payment was reflected on the card. If you were someone that was buying multiple sweaters, you were holding up the line just filling out paperwork. I think the management realized that this was somewhat problematic, as they did have people walking the lines to assist in filling out the cards, but these staffers just could not reach everyone.

3. Set up a kiosk or table outside the store for people that just wanted to buy Sabrebucks cards.

4. Have the registers set up to accept UPC code scanning. This was the strangest thing for me. Each item had a UPC code on the tag, which meant that at some point in it’s journey through the Sabres store, it was scanned. However, the cashiers had to individually enter each product code into the register AND enter the code for the 30% discount. It seemed like there were a lot of extraneous steps for what should be simple transactions.

Not that everything was all bad…

1. The store was incredibly clean and organized. The staff was working hard to keep merchandise racks full and neatly organized. There were also plenty of people walking around on the floor assisting customers. The Sabres seriously need to export this level of customer service  & organization to some of the big box stores, where one busy day makes the entire store disheveled.

2. There was a gift wrap table set up outside the store. I have no idea what organization this table was benefitting, but it was obviously good for those people that needed things wrapped immediately to avoid prying eyes.

3. The free Tim Hortons was a nice touch for those people leaving the arena after shopping.

4. The organist playing Christmas songs & game tunes on his keyboard added a festive touch to the shopping experience. I did get a giggle out of hearing Silent Night segue into Let’s Go Buffalo segue into Sabre Dance. And there was this one precious little girl using the organ music to practice her ballet moves. The only downside to the music was that it was pretty loud. You had to shout to be heard at the registers.

5. Did I mention the free parking was awesome? Because it was. I wonder if the free parking was one of the main reasons the crowd was so large? In past years, I can remember having to search for an on-street parking space or take a risk double parking.

And because I’ve been on a YouTube kick lately, I want to end this post with one of my favorite scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas, just because it’s so precious and does deal with a lot of the materialism of the season.

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