Black Friday scuffle leads to local man being arrested

A few folks left their Christmas spirit at home as the holiday shopping season officially kicked off Thursday and Friday, but overall, problems were few and far between.

Tensions flared at the Marietta Wal-Mart during Thursday night’s pre-Black Friday sale, said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite, who along with other off-duty officers was working a security detail at the store.

“It was a busy night. There were some rude and nasty people,” he said.

A Marietta man who arrived at the store Thursday evening intoxicated wound up getting arrested on misdemeanor charges, the captain said.

“He was being loud, using very profane language, and one of the managers asked that he be removed,” Waite said.

Michael Wright, 40, of 211 Scammel St., Marietta, was charged with disorderly conduct by intoxication, resisting arrest and obstructing official business after he was uncooperative and resisted when an officer attempted to handcuff him, Waite said. Eventually, he was taken to the Washington County Jail, from which he was released Friday.

No one else was arrested, but officers were called on to defuse a few tense situations, Waite said. An officer dealt with a dispute that turned into a shouting match in the electronics section, and there were other incidents that didn’t quite require their intervention.

“There was some issue with a Furby earlier in the evening,” Waite said.

Things calmed down around 9:30 p.m., and no other serious shopping-related issues were reported Friday, Waite said.

In Wood County, things seemed to be a bit calmer, with some crediting the much-discussed early hours as many stores kicked off their sales on Thanksgiving.

“We usually have a few calls from retailers to help with unruly customers or shoplifters and a few accidents, but (Friday) was quiet,” said Sgt. Greg Collins with the Parkersburg Police Department. “We have been very pleased with the day.”

A dispatcher with the Vienna Police Department said their officers did not receive any calls from stores in the Grand Central Mall or other locations looking for help with upset shoppers.

Roughly 50 stores and restaurants in and connected with the mall, including J.C. Penney, Sears, Belk, Elder Beerman, Victoria’s Secret and American Eagle, opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Other retailers, including Wal-mart and Kmart, opened even earlier.

“The response we have received has been positive,” said Michael Gibson, supervisor for the J.C. Penney store in the mall. “We opened at 8 p.m. (Thursday) and shoppers did not stop all day.”

Prior to the holiday, people took to social media to voice their opposition to the earlier shopping hours with a number of Facebook pages having been started. One page called “Say No To Shopping on Thanksgiving” asked consumers to stay home on the holiday with their families instead of shop.

Despite the people who spoke out against shopping on the holiday, hundreds of people filled the mall and other stores, which Katrina Stephens, marketing director with the mall, said may have helped keep the usual Black Friday problems at bay.

“Retailers were very keen this year,” she said. “Because of the hours they chose to be open and the way they organized their sales, it allowed people to be more relaxed than in years past, which helped everyone.”

Locally owned stores are expecting a boost today from the national Small Business Saturday event, created to encourage people to make an impact on the local economy and community by shopping locally.

“We were very busy (Friday), which we attribute to the nice weather that encouraged people to get out of their homes and shop,” said Debbie Cline, co-owner of Twisted Sisters in downtown Marietta. “We were thrilled with the Friday sales and hope the weather cooperates again so more people will come out (Saturday).”