Late night shopping (1:13 a.m.)

Published 3:58 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When Tiffany Dawson of Alabaster gets off from her job on the late shift at Compass Bank in Birmingham, she often stops by Walmart to get in her shopping for the day.

And at 1 a.m., she’s usually in and out of the store within minutes.

Dawson finds it easier to shop when she gets off work because there are virtually no crowds, and she can get the items she needs, like microwavable meals, to make the upcoming day that much easier.

“I don’t have time to cook,” Dawson said as she left the store.

Tori Cason, third shift co-manager at the Alabaster Walmart, said most late-night shoppers are like Dawson. He said the shoppers are usually people who are getting off work, and they need necessities like milk, eggs and toothpaste.

Cason knows a lot about late-night shoppers at Walmart, as the Calera resident has worked the late shift for several Walmart stores during the last four years.

“It’s a different lifestyle,” Cason said. “You have to get used to it.”

Cason said working the late shift is much calmer than the hustle and bustle of the daytime, and that’s just the way he likes it.

Even though things are usually calm in the early hours at the store, crazy things do happen at night.

While working for a non-24-hour Walmart in Atlanta, Cason said he had an unusual visitor one morning at 2 a.m. when the store was closed.

“An employee came to me and told me that a customer was knocking at the door saying he needed to come in and shop,” Cason said. “He said he couldn’t shop during the day because he would be mobbed by fans.”

Turns out the customer was the hit singer Usher, and he just needed to grab a few items while no one was around.

While the Alabaster store doesn’t see many major stars come through its doors during the late-night hours, business does seem to pick up on the weekends.

“Between 11 (p.m.) and 1 (a.m.), the high school crowd usually comes through after they get out of the movies,” Cason said, referring to the close proximity of Walmart and the Amstar theater. “But it’s nothing major, nothing bad.”

While working the third shift may not seem like a strenuous task, what we see in the store during the day is a direct result of what happens between 8 p.m-8 a.m.

“We have to get the store presentable by 8 a.m.,” Cason said. “We have to create miracles.”