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Before the outbreak, Bradbury's sold clothes, jewelry and accessories, and household products. In the basement of the store was access to the city's sewer and maintenance tunnels for storm drains which helped prevent the building from flooding. There was also a shipping and receiving dock along the side of the building which allowed the delivery of products. When the apocalypse began and people where fleeing to the city for protection, the store was shut down and secured until the crisis passed. The store's second floor had offices and a kitchen.
After rescuing Rick Grimes, Glenn Rhee leads him to the store where T-Dog, Andrea, Morales, Jacqui, and Merle Dixon were on a supply run when Rick got trapped. Morales and T-Dog take out two walkers in the alley outside, but Rick's noisy arrival drew hundreds of walkers to the store and it is surrounded with no way out.
In an attempt to find a way out, Glenn and T-Dog search the drainage tunnels for a way into the sewers, but find a walker a grate that they have no way of cutting through. With the walkers starting to break through the front doors, Rick comes up with a plan for himself and Glenn to smear themselves in the guts of Wayne Dunlap, one of the walkers killed in the alley and use the dead smell to sneak into a nearby construction site to steal a vehicle. While the plan initially works, a cloudburst washes off the guts and Rick and Glenn barely manage to escape in a cube van.
Glenn provides a distraction using a Dodge Challenger to draw off the walkers outside the loading docks. As the walkers outside the front doors of the store finally break in, Rick is able to back the cube van up to the store's roll-up doors and pick up Andrea, Morales, Jacqui and T-Dog and escape.
During the crisis, Merle's antics cause Rick to handcuff him to a pipe on the store roof. As the group escapes, T-Dog attempts to free Merle, only to drop the handcuff keys down a drainpipe. Unable to free Merle, T-Dog leaves him on the roof when the group leaves, but chains and padlocks the roof door shut to protect Merle from the walkers. When everyone escapes, Merle is left screaming on the roof.
After the Survivors leaves Merle behind, he is trapped on the roof and experiences hallucinations from heatstroke. With the walkers trying to break through the locked door, Merle uses his belt to retrieve the hacksaw from Dale's toolkit in an attempt to free himself.
Feeling guilty about abandoning Merle, Rick leads Glenn, T-Dog, and Merle's brother Daryl back to the department store. Inside the main floor, the group finds it abandoned of all but one walker that Daryl kills with his crossbow and the roof access door still locked. On the roof, the group finds that Merle cut off his own hand and has escaped.
Following the grisly discovery of Merle's severed hand, the survivors follows the blood trail through the entrance to a second stairway leading down to the second floor of the store. On the second floor, Daryl kills another walker and in the kitchen they find two more walkers killed by Merle and signs that he cauterized his own stump and escaped out a window and down the fire escape.
With the store relatively secure, the group uses it as their base to plan how to retrieve the Sheriff's bag of guns. Though they plan to use it as a rendezvous point, an encounter with the Vatos Gang changes that.