There is always a lot of excitement created by the advertising for Black Friday. It could be argued that half of the total retail holiday revenues are obtained on this single day. But, who in their right mind would wake up before dawn, get out of their warm soft comfortable bed to go out in the bitter cold just to fight an aggressive crowd with the hopes of saving a couple of dollars? Every year there are reports of some poor soul who got trampled to death as a violent crowd stampeded for the one remaining Ferbie. Is it really worth the risk?
I am a blessed man whose wife despises the act of shopping. Therefore, there has never been the stress or guilt for me to participate in the Black Friday mayhem since she too wanted no part of it. With that said, a couple of years back as we laid on the couch in a semi-turkey induced coma we found ourselves intrigued with the Black Friday hype and agreed that we should experience it at least once in our lifetime.
The primary challenge was that I was scheduled to work on Friday. However, I was not due into the office until 9:00 am and the storewide sales began at 4:00 am for most retailers. It was settled….we agreed to bite the bullet and become members of an elite class – the Black Friday Shoppers. We went to bed at midnight and set the alarm for 3:15 am – needless to say, we had no intentions of making ourselves look pretty for the other shoppers.
We arrived at the first store at 3:50 am with the intentions of buying some electronics for our boys. To our amazement, the line already consisted of several hundred people. Most had advertisements in hand and were on a mission to obtain specific sales items – of which there was typically only a limited supply offered. It quickly became abundantly clear that my wife and I were ill-prepared compared to the shopping competition. Most shoppers strategically mapped out their shopping route. Many had color-coded binders with advertisements clearly flagged in the order of importance. My wife and I had a few pencil scratches on a post-it note.
Ironically, at the first store, we obtained a digital camera package set that we were considering for my eldest son at nearly half the price we anticipated. My wife then noticed a huge display of navigation systems which we knew two family members were wanting. They were discounted by 30% so we bought three (just in case we needed an extra gift). By 5:15 am, we had hit 3 different stores and obtained about 80% of the gifts that we needed to purchase, broke up two fights among shoppers and heard some very colorful adjectives throughout the morning.
It was somewhat of a crazy morning that brought a whole new meaning to the term “holiday spirit,” but it was worth the experience. We were able to enjoy a nice breakfast before I headed off to work while my wife wrapped the presents. Several days later we realized that we forgot to purchase a present. We returned to one of the Black Friday stores where we saw the item. To our surprise, the cost was more than double the price.
It’s been a few years since we participated in a Black Friday. Although there was an economic benefit, there is also a mental, emotional and physical cost. With that said, this Thanksgiving there was a Déjà vu moment. As we laid on the couch in a semi-turkey induced coma we found ourselves intrigued with the Black Friday hype and agreed that we should experience it at least one more time in our lifetime. As we went to bed late Thanksgiving evening, I once again set the alarm for 3:15 am.
However as we woke up in the morning to the soft sound of rain falling on the rooftop, it was realized that we slept through the alarm. There was a split second of regret before we curled back up and snuggled off to sleep. We may have had Black Friday Intentions, but our alarm clock execution lacked the level of commitment required by a true Black Friday Shopper.
As we drank our morning cup of coffee while watching the news, there was a sense of regret. But, the regret quickly evaporated as we watched the news report of 20+ people hospitalized as a result of a shopper spraying pepper spray at fellow shoppers in an attempt to obtain a limited edition Xbox. Pepper Spray from a stranger or snuggling with my wife……..I choose to snuggle every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.