The day after Thanksgiving was always a day that I had to work until about 6 years ago. It was 2005 and I somehow got the day off. I was happy for the four-day weekend and decided to take my wife (then girlfriend) with me to Best Buy at 4am. Bad idea. In retrospect, I was hoping to get a $200 laptop. If I was a more astute shopper, I would have known that those really amazing deals are limited to something ridiculous like 5 per store, probably less than 1% availability to the diehards who camp out and wait in line for these so-called deals. That great deal on a laptop by the way will not come preloaded with the programs we need. I realized on that very early morning in November, 2005 just how bad of a deal that was for someone who was not camping out.
While walking towards the store which opened in an hour, I thought to myself, “Hey, this may not be so bad.” Perhaps I wondered what I was missing all of those years I was stuck working on the day after Thanksgiving. When I first saw the line outside the front of the store, I thought the end was near. As I approached the front corner of the building it hit me. The line actually wrapped around the building twice more. As I walked down the side of the building, I was shocked by the number of people waiting for a deal. Then, something truly uninspiring happened that depleted all the holiday spirit I tried to muster up early that Friday morning. An A-hole in an SUV sped by looking for a non-existent parking space near the front of Best Buy and paid no attention to the hundreds of people around him as he plowed through the crowd like a snow blower. As I peaked my head around the corner to seek out the end of the line over the horizon, I was knocked senselessly by this inconsiderate jerk. Well, perhaps I am embellishing, but the car’s side mirror hit my shoulder so hard it just about knocked me down. Getting hit by a car was my deal breaker. Now I was not injured except for a bruise on my shoulder and my pride. The sheer fact that the parking lot speeder had no sense to stop or check to see if I was o.k. was disappointing to me. Was he/she checking internet sales on their cell phone or just that completely inconsiderate and incapable of human decency? I would expect more from anyone during the start of the holiday season, deal or no deal.
So, henceforth, I’ve abandoned the idea of going to Best Buy at 5am. The next time I would camp out, there would be firewood and no $25 scanner or a doorbuster deal on a 128mb no-name MP3 player for only $20!
I’ve had discussions about black friday with several folks who’ve had both good and bad experiences. I’ve found that the majority have had bad experiences because they are searching for that one mythical deal that is not supposed to be there unless someone forfeits their entire Thanksgiving to wait for it. Best Buy could have cared less to have lost my business. Honestly, in the past 6 years, this store would get my money at one point or another whether it was around the Holidays or not. I wish I could say that I boycott all of these corporations.
According to Reuters today, U.S. retailers racked up a record $52.4 billion in sales over this Thanksgiving weekend, a 16.4 percent jump from a year ago, as early hours and attractive promotions brought out more shoppers. (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/early-holiday-winner-best-buy-011345143.html) What’s up people? I thought we were in a recession? Do deals make people so completely crazy that they forget that they must first do things like pay their mortgage (or rent….please, pay your rent) before purchase their $499 plasma television?
After hearing about these record sales reports, I started to question whether I was completely off base about this whole black friday thing? As I sought out more opinion, I came across a well-written article by a professional writer in Buffalo, NY that references an incident in which a Target employee was trampled to death in her town last year. Please see http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7182012989603327313&postID=3094342008325356626 This poor minimum wage employee had to give up so much more than just their Thanksgiving holiday. I remember when this happened and cited this as the lone reason we should avoid black friday. An insult to Blacks and Fridays everywhere.
On the eve of black friday this year, we were out-of-town and in need of diapers. We could go to the 24-hour Wal-Mart close by or drive a half hour to the nearest CVS or Walgreens. All three are corporate evils preying on all of us this time of year, so we went with what was close, a game-time decision. My wife dropped me off at the front of Wal-Mart which was mobbed with people, but nobody moving. It was so odd. I walked in and passed by everyone very quickly to the diaper aisle. I felt like Jim Carey in The Truman Show as my path was made and went right where I needed and I was the only one checking out. There was a weird feeling in the air as even though there were lots of people, no one was moving. There were pallets of products wrapped in plastic that say, not to open until midnight. As I walked to checkout, there was movement on the offensive line by a little old lady. She touched a 2$ sweater and the ref (Wal-Mart employee) said, “Ma’am, please don’t touch these items until midnight.” I was glad that the baby’s emergency, El-cheapo diapers were not on sale.
So, whether or not you like a good deal or not, ask yourself whether or not it is worth it in the long run. Is it worth the time you could have spent with your family? Is it worth your sleep or health? Is it worth your dignity? (This year, one woman pepper-sprayed her competition over an X-Box deal and injured 20 people.) Try to consider these before you head out to your next doorbuster. Please maybe next year, support Small Business Saturday instead and enjoy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Anymore of the black friday madness will just fuel these corporate giants to not care about the consumer or their employees and the movie industry to create more terrible Christmas movies surrounding the subject. Cue Schwartzennegar’s return.