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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Faux clerks greet Best Buy shoppers

Recent visitors to a Manhattan Best Buy may have noticed an inordinate number of store clerks milling about. But lest they think the consumer electronics chain has a new policy of dispatching multiple clerks to each buyer, it turns out those assisting customers were actually faux employees taking part in a stunt by comedy group Improv Everywhere.

Best Buy mission
Credit: Improv Everywhere
Agents dressed for their Best Buy mission.

The N.Y.-based group, which "causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places," according to its Web site, enacts assorted creative stunts, with the audience made up of unsuspecting passersby. For past pranks, participants have pulled off synchronized swimming in a park fountain, riding the N.Y subway without pants and simultaneously triggering a symphony of ring tones in a book store.

As part of the Best Buy mission, 80 people ("agents" in Improv Everywhere parlance) went into the two-story Best Buy on 23rd Street dressed in signature blue polo shirts and khaki pants. The agents didn't claim to work at the store but were instructed to be friendly and helpful if anyone had a question. Agents were stationed at virtually every aisle in every section of the store, and some helped customers find routers, DVDs and the like.

While customers surely didn't mind the extra attention, security guards and managers at the store were befuddled by the sea of employee look-alikes--some of whom were filming the action for posterity--and worried that the agents might be using their fake uniforms to stage some type of heist. "Thomas Crown Affair! Thomas Crown Affair!," one employee shouted. Police were called. So, just to be cautious, you might want to avoid going to your neighborhood Best Buy in the near future dressed in blue and khaki, at least if you're toting a camcorder.

Full details on the Best Buy mission, as well as photos and video, can be found on the Improv Everywhere site.