Carlos Portillo, center, leads a cheer in preparing fellow employees at Best Buy's Burbank store for Black Friday.

Carlos Portillo, center, leads a cheer in preparing fellow employees at Best Buy's Burbank store for Black Friday. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times / November 21, 2012)

It's 8 a.m. Sunday and John Palyok, general manager of a Best Buy store in Burbank, is brandishing a $19.99 Dynex HDMI cable like a battle standard.

A group of 50 employees, mostly in their 20s, gather around him, gulping coffee and nodding slowly.

"It's about speed, velocity and execution," bellowed Palyok, his voice echoing through the store's cavernous, 45,000-square-foot interior.

"They, need, need this HDMI cable," Palyok said, slicing the thin blue box through the air like a battle-ax. "The absolute worst thing that could happen is if a customer goes home and doesn't know that it exists."

And Best Buy needs Black Friday and this holiday season to generate strong sales. The good news is that since at least Monday, customers have been setting up tents outside stores to be the first in line for the chain's big specials at its midnight opening Friday.

Continue reading >>

--