NEWSCASTER:  And now, over to NewsForYou Nine’s roving reporter Matilda Morris, who’s standing by live at the Best Buy at the Big Shoppes at Birch Meadows.  Matilda?

MATILDA:  Thanks, Kent!  For the past several months, this parking lot has been a thriving community, a curb-to-curb sea of tents and shanties that have served as a home-away-from-home for several hundred of our city’s most dedicated consumers.  They come from all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old, cyborg and android, but they are united in their passion for the latest in personal and home electronics at rock-bottom prices.  I have with me Scott and Sara Sanderson, who moved into Best Buy Bargainville in September when news was leaked that a limited supply of portable, self-adhesive wall mural televisions would be made available at the insane price of one thousand ameros.  Scott, is it worth it to put your life on hold for so long just to snag a great bargain?

SCOTT:  No doubt it’s worth it.  Last year I waited until the end of October to get in line, and I came away empty-handed.  I’m not going to let that happen again!

SARA:  I told him he shouldn’t even bother coming home unless he snagged one of those wall mural TV’s.  Our youngest boy just has old-school, painted walls, and the kids at school have been teasing him about it.

MATILDA:  What’s it like living here in Bargainville?

SCOTT:  Well, it’s like one big, extended family out here.  You see the same people every year and get to know each other, so it’s sort of our reunion.

SARA:  That’s right, we consider these people to be family.

SCOTT:  Except in a few hours, when those doors open.  There’s not a soul out here who wouldn’t trample his own mother if that’s what it came down to.

SARA:  And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

SCOTT:  That’s right.  You don’t deserve it if you’re not prepared to do what it takes to get it.

MATILDA:  Thank you, Scott and Sara.  And speaking of violence, I also have with me Sergeant Burt Brinkley, who is Tactical Commander of Big Shoppes at Birch Meadows security this year.  Sgt. Brinkley, you and your force of over a hundred private soldiers have been patrolling the area since Labor Day.  What is the mood of the troops now that Black Friday is just hours away?

SGT. BRINKLEY:  A little tense, Matilda.  No one has forgotten the Christmas Riot of ’41.  It’s my duty to secure the safety of our shopping public and to ensure that never again will so much retail acreage go up in flames.  To that end, we’ve spared no expense to stay on top of things.  Today’s technology allows us to know precisely where each shopper is at every moment, the identity of whichever shopper first touches an item of available merchandise, and whether or not they’ve already exceeded their credit limit or, God forbid, if they have no credit at all.  In the event that merchandise is touched first by an ineligible shopper, the right to that item is forfeited to the next eligible shopper who has touched it.  Once an eligible shopper is identified, that shopper’s ID is shown on the item display, and there’s no disputing it.  Still, things can get out of hand, so you can bet we have a fully armored officer next to each display and every twenty meters in the aisles.

MATILDA:  What do you say to critics who claim that the shopper identification technology is vulnerable to hacking and therefore may allow inequitable highly-discounted merchandise distribution?

SGT. BRINKLEY:  I’d say, “Come on down here, and you deal with these nuts!”

MATILDA:  Thank you, Sergeant.  And finally, we have Best Buy Black Friday Regional Coordinator Gary Goins here to fill us in on the latest news behind the scenes.  Gary, are you ready for this crowd of hundreds who have been waiting so patiently over the last few months?

GARY:  Well, I certainly hope so.  I know that Sgt. Brinkley and his troops have secured the perimeter and are doing everything they can to prevent large-scale rioting both without and within the store.  For our part, we have reinforced the entrance windows and doors, installed additional padding at the ends of aisles and the vertices of all right-angled displays, quintupled the security cameras for 360-degree real-time-3D coverage, and strategically positioned a crack squad of sharpshooters in the rafters.  And we’re handing out turkey-shaped sugar cookies to the first twelve dozen shoppers.

MATILDA:  Any concerns that your employees may not be up to the task?

GARY:  Not at all, Matilda.  Each of our associates is protected by custom-fit, crush-resistant body armor and has undergone a mandatory online training seminar in Black Friday crisis management.  We will be rotating shifts so that no one will be out on the floor for more than two consecutive hours, and we also have a Shopper Negotiations Team standing by in case things get ugly.  Really, it’s all under control.

MATILDA:  How profitable do you expect today to be?

GARY:  Well, we’ll move a lot of merchandise today, that’s for sure, but anymore the actual Black Friday is just icing on the cake for us.  It’s the three months leading up to it that puts us in the black, thanks to the various guest services that we have found our short-term residential customers have come to expect.

MATILDA:  And what sort of services are those?

GARY:  To start with, anyone who takes Black Friday seriously will see the value in becoming a Best Buy Bargainville Preferred Camper, which entitles you to a minimum four-by-six plot located somewhere on the property or adjacent leased lots starting on Labor Day.  Many of our customers know just how worthwhile it is to upgrade to a Plot License, which simply reserves your existing plot and gives you first dibs on its lease the following year.  But the greatest value over the long run for our most dedicated customers is to invest in our Best Buy Bargainville VIP program.  Those are the folks you see over there with priority Gold Circle Proximity Plots, featuring unlimited data streaming and complimentary recharging of all implanted personal electronics, plus the added bonus of being permitted to set up your living quarters and move in on the first of August.  And a ten-percent discount at the Bargainville Taco Trailer.

MATILDA:  Sounds wonderful, Gary, and good luck to you and your crew.

GARY:  Thank you, Matilda.

MATILDA:  And just a quick reminder to our viewers at home that it’s not too late to come on out and join in the fun.  Doors will be opening in just a few hours.  Back to you, Kent.

NEWSCASTER:  Thanks, Matilda.  Great to see they’re keeping the Christmas spirit alive down at Birch Meadows.  In other news, a local group of classic car enthusiasts will do just about anything to get their hands on the precious oil and gasoline that makes their historic vehicles run.  Details when we come back.