Black Friday: Protesters continue to gather at Eastport Plaza Walmart
Nov 23, 2012 (Menafn - The Oregonian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Wal-Mart Stores Inc., aimed for a big Black Friday splash this year, offering special pricing and layaway deals and guaranteeing shoppers in line at 10 p.m. Thursday they'd get one of three featured consumer electronics.
By early this morning, the Arkansas-based retailer declared victory. In a 6:30 a.m. email, just an hour after its final 5 a.m. round of doorbusters, Wal-Mart reported its "best-ever" Black Friday. Between its busiest hours of 8 p.m. to midnight, the retailer said, employees completed nearly 10 million transactions checking out almost 5,000 items a second.
But the world's largest retailer had to work for it.
Employees nationwide walked out as part of ongoing protests over wages and health care. Wal-Mart executives downplayed the action, saying only 26 were held and just 50 employees participated, though none in the Portland area.
At Eastport Plaza in Southeast Portland, a few dozen protesters "standing against the corporate dominance" chanted in support of Walmart employees, at times mocking shoppers lined up Thursday night in the cold.
They passed out fliers mimicking store ads. "Free stampede after giving thanks for what you have" was stamped over an iPad image while a "We're hiring," sign was followed by the pitch, "Make less than 15,000/year!" Store greeters within view of the protesters rolled their eyes and scoffed at the message..
Shoppers ranged from blase to slightly irritated as protesters yelled, "Do you really need more stuff?"
One man yelled back, "Blahbitty blah, blah, blah, blah." A woman driving away retorted, "You picked a fine night for this."
"I understand why they're here, then again, the store is cheaper for low-income families -- if I could afford stores like Fred Meyer, Target or Kohl's I'd go there," said Angela Williams, 23, of Portland. Her friend Cassandra Castaneda, 23, nodded as she pushed a cart of gifts for her son.
"I can see the good in their message and there's a lot of people here," Castaneda said. "But this takes away some of the excitement people have for getting a good deal and I just don't think they're listening. I think shoppers might listen if they came out on a regular day."
The rally remained peaceful, though police arrested one protester at the Southeast Portland store before the night was out.
Mid-morning today, a local grocery workers union organized a separate protest. Around 200 people lined up along 82nd Avenue in front of the Eastport Plaza Walmart to call attention to what they feel are poor working conditions at the retail giant.
-- Laura Gunderson
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