I shopped my first ever early morning Black Friday. I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again. The deals for what I wanted just weren’t great. Well, mostly, anyway. I did find some jeans for Monkey that were $10 each at Old Navy, but I had to stand in line for about 40 minutes just to pay for them. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For you to understand why I have never participated in Black Friday shopping before, I feel the need to give you a little history.
Back during my college days, I worked at Tracks Music Store. This was back when the “music store” still existed and wasn’t iTunes. Yeah, I’m showing my age a little. So, Tracks was a pretty fun place to work most of the time. We listened to good music (usually – it depended on who was working and chose the music) and hang out with interesting people. I still have friends made from working there. It was no High Fidelity or Empire Records but it was fun. The best part was we actually had “normal” working hours on “normal” days. Even the days after Thanksgiving and Christmas we didn’t open until 10:00 am (1:00 pm on Sundays – can you imagine??). (This was before we were bought out and corporatized by Blockbuster and forced to wear light blue oxfords, khakis and a tie, and be open 365 days a year).
However, I came to loathe the holiday season. The madness would begin shortly after Halloween and get worse and worse as the time of Christmas drew near. People became more and more rude and inconsiderate as Christmas got closer and closer. No matter how helpful we tried to be, many times it just wasn’t good enough. If we were out of something, it became our fault and not the company’s. It just wasn’t fun. Even the constant piping of Christmas music would get on my nerves after about the 2nd week of December. I cannot possibly imagine what my attitude would have been had Black Friday started back then. As it was, I vowed never to shop the day after Thanksgiving or the day after Christmas (the day of most returns). It took me years, and I do mean years, to get over that distaste for the holiday season. I’m just glad we didn’t sell Cabbage Patch Dolls.
So, back to present day life. I’m telling my friends all week long, “You’re crazy for shopping at 5:00 am – no WAY am I doing THAT.” Toys R Us opened at midnight, Thanksgiving night/Friday morning – MIDNIGHT! Really? Old Navy opened at 3:00 am. I mean, really – why go to sleep? Walmart was open 24 hours, but their sale didn’t start until 5:00 am so I’m sure there were people stationed all around the toys and electronics watching their clocks, waiting to jump on those elusive Zhu Zhu Hamsters, which can’t be found anywhere for less than $50, and Nintendo DSs which were on sale for $98. There was no way I was going to subject myself to such insanity. That is, until Trey and I sat through the dissertation of sale ads and found many things we wanted, both for us and the kids.
So the idea brewed, slowly, like a good, strong cuppa joe. Maybe I’ll go out and just see what I can find. The new dog wakes me up every morning around 5:30 with her whining (she really needs to stop that!) so if I’m already awake, why not? Right? 6:00 am isn’t too late to shop on Black Friday, is it? And did I really just type that? I need therapy. Oddly enough, I’m not the only one. I Facebooked that I was planning the unimaginable and a friend replied that she was, too. So we decided to meet at Dick’s Sporting Goods at 6:30. On a side note, that FB conversation had me laughing so hard I had tears.
6:07 am, I roll into the parking lot at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I didn’t even realize it was possible for a parking lot at a store to ever be FULL at 6:00 am! People, it was still DARK outside! Insanity, I tell you. So, I stroll in, meet up with my friend and look around in amazement at all the awake and smiling people. And these are the ones that were working! There’s no way that would be me. So my friend and I find what we’re looking for, plus a few bonuses that we weren’t, then parted ways. As I was leaving Dick’s, I looked across the street at Best Buy. I’m sure you can imagine what the parking lot there looked like. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen so much traffic in this small area – even at noon! I just shook my head.
I drove past one of the stores I planned on visiting and saw that they had a line of people stretched out in the parking lot. They actually didn’t open until 7:00 am. Pretty late by Black Friday standards. I continued on to Walmart, thinking that it would be crazy and I wanted to get that over with. I had only planned on going to Walmart, Target and Smart Toys and Books (the 7:00 am store) but I got an idea to go to Old Navy, which was conveniently stationed between Walmart and Target. I decided to park there and walk to all three stores. I stopped at Old Navy first, I think partly because I was really dreading going to Walmart. The store looked like a tornado had hit it with clothes strewn everywhere. I’m surprised I was able to find the sizes I needed. Then I stood in line – a long winding line that snaked all the way to the back of the store. Thankfully, I had my ipod to keep me company. Me and Eminem were having a grand time together.
Walmart wasn’t nearly as busy as I expected. Sure the toy and electronics departments were swamped and disheveled but honestly, it wasn’t that bad. By the time I was ready to check out, I found a lane with no one waiting! Shocking, I know! I was in and out of Walmart in under 30 minutes. Target, on the other hand, was a zoo. There were no carts available when I went inside, only those small baskets carried by hand. I grabbed one of those and made my way past the super-long line to the toy section in the back. Navigating my way around all the people with carts was not unlike making my way to the front of the stage of a general admission stadium Dead show. I was quite reticent about getting in that line for just the few little things I had found, but then I discovered that the lanes in the middle of the store were only 3 or 4 people deep, not the 25 or 30 deep that were on the outside lanes. It still took some time to get through, though.
Then I headed to my last store, where it was very claustrophobic feeling. The store itself is crammed full of toys and things and when you add the people, it’s positively cramped. I found exactly what I was looking for fairly quickly and stood in line for only about 15 minutes.
I was done shopping by 10:00 am, having decided to not go to JC Penny’s, Belks or Kohls – which would have meant spending more money on me, not the kids or Trey. Four hours of shopping and I was done! I’m not convinced that I’ll shop Black Friday again next year, but this year was certainly entertaining.