In January, when I observed that the search for an Xbox 360 was going to be “…a mere dress rehersal for the Playstation 3‘s release later this year,” I didn’t anticipate that last weekend would involve violence.
Since the early birds around Los Angeles, many of whom were hoping to flip the scarely limited consoles on eBay, were already camped outside the local Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, Toys R Us, and Wal-Mart for days, the Sony Style Store at the Westfield Topanga (fka the Topanga Plaza) in Woodland Hills seemed like the best option (Sony has another local store in the Beverly Center).
For two days, I did reconnaisance work, talking with Sony Style employees and security as well as mall security and uniformed LAPD officers, and found that shoppers were discouraged from camping on mall property, which theoretically meant that everyone had a potential shot at getting a PS3 when the mall doors reopened on Friday morning at 6:00 AM. However, when reality set in on Thursday morning, after I saw that campers had already been waiting on the sidewalk outside the parking structure that was closest to the nearest mall entrance to the Sony Style Store, I decided not to even bother.
More after the jump.
At the Westfield Topanga Mall, people began to camp outside on the sidewalk since Wednesday. In my talks with the LAPD, mall management, mall security, and Sony Style, I found out that pretty much no one gives a flying F about that line (they will not honor it) as it was first come, first serve at 6am from the mall entrance, not the sidewalk.
I found that to be awesome news… my friends and I could sneak in from the second level parking ramp and dash to the mall entrance at 5:58am. As it turned out, about 100 other people decided to try the same thing too (lol). At 6AM, it turned into a crowd of about 300 people, and clearly mall security and the 1 lone LAPD cruiser became a bit nervous. 7am rolled in and people were getting really anxious and irritated that the race to the mall entrance hadn’t started. By now, there were also 2 huge crowds on either side of the mall parking lot’s driveway. At 7:15am, things really went outta control when a few dumbasses decided to rush past security and toward the mall entrance. Of course, when other people saw this, they decided to try it too. The two lone cops called for massive backup, and security pulled the fire alarm (I guess as a signal for more rent-a-cops to come). Lots of punching, fighting, and yelling came too…
By 7:45am, I saw a couple of LAPD and news helicopters flying overhead, and the street next to the sidewalk turned into an LAPD parking lot, with about 15 cop cars and 30 cops crowded BEHIND the mayhem. Apparently (according to one of the cops) mall security was trying to handle it themselves. Security then decided to slowly (and randomly pick) 5 people at a time from the massive crowd. Of course, this only resulted in more fighting/pushing/name calling/douchebaggery.
In the end, I came out emptyhanded, hungry, and a bit entertained by the morons in front of us. At least my fiance and I got a shot with KTLA news, lol.
As for me, I tried ordering the elusive console on Costco‘s website that morning, but failed miserably after their secure servers repeatedly timed out. So I ultimately wound up purchasing a 60GB model on eBay this past weekend, which I wasn’t exactly fond of doing due to the extra cost involved, but I didn’t want to deal with the aggrevation of going from store to store and trying to find one like I did last year with the 360.