Black Friday can get nasty. Here’s how to survive.

Black Friday
Black Friday shopping rituals can lead to a dangerous herd mentality. Be careful out there!
(Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

If you look up Black Friday on YouTube, you’re bound to find a lot of videos with terrible titles like “Black Friday Fights,” “Black Friday Disasters” or “Black Friday 2012 Madness.” But the horrifying stigma of this day doesn’t seem to scare the thousands of brave Americans who voluntarily run with the big box store crowd, fighting for killer deals on last year’s food processor.

Like with all other extreme sports, you need to prepare for Black Friday shopping. We went to the best: Mark Hellmann Regouby. Is Regouby an experienced Black Friday shopper? Not really. But he’ll do you one better. He’s the founder of the travel company Running of the Bulls, Inc., which puts tourists up close and personal with the animals at the annual event in Pamplona, Spain. Here’s his advice for braving big crowds.

Before you go in
“We tell them … watch the Bull Run first so they can see how it works and understand the flow of the people and the bulls and make their strategy from overviewed conditions,” he says. This is where the aforementioned YouTube search for Black Friday videos will come in handy.

But the preparation doesn’t stop here. If you were planning to hit the bottle to take the edge off of Black Friday shopping, you’d better think twice.

“The No. 1 rule is to arrive sober,” Regouby says. “No. 2 is to get a good night’s sleep. No. 3 is to have 360-degree awareness. Always try to be aware of who is in front, behind and beside you. Really get a sense of being in the place.”

Surviving in the heat of battle
“The best runners always say you stake out your territory,” says Regouby. “You use your arms and don’t let anybody get too much in your way. Swing your arms and keep in your elbows to make sure you’ve got your own space that you need in order to run without tripping.”

This sounds extreme, but seriously, do you want that food processor or not?

If you go down
There have only been 15 deaths since the beginning of the Bull Run in Pamplona in 1910, but broken wrists and bloodied chins are the norm. According to Regouby, there are more falls and injuries because of humans tripping over each other than because of the bulls. We can, with some certainty, say the same about Black Friday, except that the National Retail Federation has only reported one Black Friday trampling death: In 2008 a Walmart employee was crushed in a stampede. So what do you do if you go down?

“The most important rule of all is if you go down, stay down. The bulls are actually talented at stepping over obstacles and as long as you cover your head and stay down and don’t move, they can plan to step over you.”

We can only hope the same counts for the herds at Best Buy and Macy’s. Actually, we’re going to say that the people waiting in the cold to buy stuff at discount prices are NOT talented at stepping over obstacles, so we advise just trying to roll to safety!

When you succeed
Regouby says that a run like the one in Pamplona is for people who want to be in touch with their own mortality and live their lives to the fullest.

“I have [run with the bulls] four times and it’s still pretty incredible,” he says. “You arrive in this huge arena and the sun hits your face and the air is fresh again, and you can’t believe you are alive.”

That sounds a bit like waking up way too early on Black Friday and shortly afterward hauling bags of discounted goods to the parking lot, realizing all of your arms and legs are intact, right?


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