Economic Chaos

When the editor from the Burlington Free Press called to ask if I was available for Friday morning, I immediately accepted the assignment. Sounded like fun. When I told my girlfriend what I was up to she immediately said she wanted to go along for the ride. Yup, We where there at Wal Mart at 4:30am along with the thousands of other crazy people to wait for the holiday shopping season to begin. I knew there would be people there but I never imagined it would be that many. The line was more than a quarter of a mile long and people had been waiting all night for the store to open.

I didn't really sleep very well the night before so It was a chore to drag myself out of bed at 3:45am. I probably should have gotten out of bed a little earlier but that is easier said than done. On my way there I was thinking about what the scene was going to be like and trying to visualize different ideas I had in my mind for photos I wanted to get (and if I had time to stop and get some coffee). To be honest, I had no idea what to expect.

(Nikon D300, iso 2000, 1/30 @f2:8, 17-35 at 17mm)
In the car on the way to Wal Mart.

The Wal Mart in Williston is in a shopping plaza with many other box stores like Home Depot, Circuit City, Toys R Us, etc. We had to pass most of them to get to the parking lot of Wal Mart and every store we passed had a huge line. When we got to the lot I was blown away at the amount of people waiting in line to get into Wal Mart. The line stretched for more than a quarter of a mile. There were thousands of people waiting in line to have first crack at the holiday deals. Cars were still streaming in when we left at 6. We parked the car and I immediately got out and went to work.

© 2008 Brian Jenkins/Burlington Free Press
(Nikon D300, iso 2000, 1/30 @ f2:8, 17-35 at 17mm)

© 2008 Brian Jenkins/Burlington Free Press
(Nikon D300, iso 2000, 1/25 @f2:8, 17-35 at 17mm)

© 2008 Brian Jenkins/Burlington Free Press
(Nikon D300, iso 1600, 1/10 @ f2:8, 17-35 at 35mm)

I have heard stories of the media and photographers getting kicked out of the parking lot (it is technically private property) so I was prepared to deal with the powers that be if I had to. There were plenty of police and employees on hand to help keep the crowd under some sort of control. I was never questioned or asked to leave and every cop or Wal Mart employee I encountered was really nice. I was not able to take photos from inside the store so I just stuck to the parking lot. With in a half an hour the line was gone and shoppers were leaving the store with full carts.

I was amazed at how unruley the crowd was. People were yelling and pushing at each other and saying some pretty nasty things. So much for the Holiday Spirit.

© 2008 Brian Jenkins/Burlington Free Press
Matt, a Wal Mart employee, watches holiday shoppers
enter the store after waiting in line for hours in the cold.

(Nikon D300, iso 2000, 1/13 @ f5.6, 17-35 at 17mm)

© 2008 Brian Jenkins/Burlington Free Press
David Stantillan, from Montreal, Quebec, leaves Wal Mart with a shopping cart full

of Holiday gifts on Friday morning November 28, 2008 in Williston, VT. Daivd was
the first person in line, waiting more than ten hours to enter the store.
(Nikon D300, iso 1600, 1/60 @ f5.6, 17-35 at 17mm)

It is pretty ridiculous to me that with the state of affairs in the country and world today, that we still pile into stores on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving to save a few bucks on already jacked up holiday prices for "things". It is insane to me that people will wait in line for hours and even go so far as to bust down the door and trample a Wal Mart employee to Death like that poor guy in New York. Is it really worth it? With the economy in the shitter, I was really hoping that I would show up and no would be waiting in line. Not this time, oh well, mabye there is hope next year. (but I doubt it).

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Brian Jenkins Photography

Brian Jenkins Photography is based in Vermont specializing in music, sports and portrait photography and video production. Brian is the chief photographer for the University of Vermont athletic department, photographing all of the Vermont Catamounts sports events. Brian's dynamic photography can be seen in some of the largest local and national editorial publications such as the Burlington Free Press, and Sports Illustrated, among many others. Brian Jenkins Photography is capable of producing high quality imagery for your sports, portrait, editorial, or concert projects. Brian Jenkins photography also directs and produces high quality video production for editorial, promotional and music clients. Contact Brian Jenkins Photography at for more information.

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