Mr. Jdimytai Damour has been on my mind lately. If you don’t recognize the name, you might recognize his story. Damour was the 34 year old temporary worker assigned to the maintenance department of a Wal*Mart in Valley Stream, New York, who was trampled to death as a mob of bargain shoppers broke down the doors in their intense desire to nab the deep discounts on Black Friday.

Doorbusters, all right.

I still hear radio commercials using that term in regard to holiday discount sales. The latest one I heard was a J.C. Penney ad. Is the irony lost on them? How can they continue to use that term in the wake of the Valley Stream trampling?

Wal*Mart calls the day after Thanksgiving “the Blitz.” Blitz means “lightning” in German (cf. “Blitzkrieg,” or “lightning war.”) I suspect the Wal*Mart term doesn’t actually refer to the meteorological event, but to the store assault staged by buyers.

Why do companies use images of violence to promote holiday sales, especially during a time we are encouraged to show gratitude and respect to others? What do Wal*Mart and J.C. Penney expect when they use these terms? Is it fair to say that retailers foster feelings of competition and violence in their holiday advertising?

Where does the retailer’s responsibility end and the consumer’s responsibility begin? I’m sure no one in that mob went to Wal*Mart intending to trample anyone to death. Certainly, people need to accept personal responsibility for their actions, but in a mob mentality, self-preservation comes first, and conscious protection of others is secondary at best.

Of course, because it’s difficult (if not impossible) to determine who delivered the killing blow to Damour, so Wal*Mart will be left holding the bag. Don’t get me wrong, I think it would be appropriate for Wal*Mart to offer some kind of voluntary compensation to Damour’s family; the company certainly could have taken better security measures to protect employees and customers alike. But I don’t think Wal*Mart bears the full responsibility for Damour’s death.

Feel free to share any thoughts and opinions below. I’m curious to get other perspectives.

4 thoughts on “Doorbusters

  1. (Leaving this comment on behalf of Chuck, who got an error while trying to post. If anyone else got this error and would like to leave a comment, please let me know.)

    Hadn’t heard about this. (The filters are working!) My initial reaction is “One more reason not to shop at Wal*Mart.” I agree that the right thing would be for the store to step up and provide some compensation. And grow a clue about the line between “aggressive marketing” and “inciting a riot”. When Death steps in, the line has been crossed.

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