Friday, November 28, 2008

Surviving Black Friday

Black Friday. Interesting concept. When I first heard the phrase, I associated it with things like black heartedness, for example. Black eye. The night was black. The black knight. Stuff like that. You can understand my confusion. And if you don’t, it’s not nice to make fun of people. ;)

Not long ago, my offspring pointed out that this is actually a day when the stores hope to boost their sales records into the black, instead of the red. Or in other words, they’re hoping to make a haul from bounteous shoppers in one fell swoop. This clarified things for me greatly.

Shopping big time the day after Thanksgiving is a unique tradition and part of our culture. I know of several women who plan for this day months in advance. They join with friends, neighbors, and family members to hit every major store they possibly can and partake of bargains galore. They study the ads faithfully, underlining or circling the desired sales items. Coupons are clipped and hoarded. Lists are composed and battle strategies planned.

This is a time of great contemplation with the Christmas season on the horizon.
Since a lot of these special deals are only available at the crack of dawn, it behooves one to go to bed early the night before. There are several women that I know who get as little as two hours sleep before this great event. I’m sure it must be the excitement of out-shopping their fellow kind that keeps them going. That and lots of chocolate.

Last year at this time my husband, oldest son and I found ourselves in Utah hanging out with my side of the family tree for Thanksgiving. Since our son had to work the next day, he headed home Thanksgiving night. My husband detests shopping (is it my imagination or do most men feel that way?) so he bowed out of the Black Friday shopping adventure that my mother, sister, and I were planning for the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, he planned to spend the day hanging out in car lots, motorcycle shops, etc.

The day dawned bright and cheery, as I recall. Perhaps it was the excitement of finding treasures galore. Regardless, we ate a quick bite of breakfast and we sallied forth to hit a few stores. A new elegant department store beckoned. We had looked over the ads and noted that it offered wonderful sales items. So we started with it. True, we didn’t hasten over at the crack of dawn like some people I could mention. We arrived somewhere between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. like civilized people.

To our astonishment, the store was filled to the brim with shoppers intent on finding bargains. And tremendous deals abounded. We found our share of them as well. There were a plethora of nifty sweaters that were half their normal price. Fun seasonal jewelry enticed. And since my mother was looking for a new microwave, we managed to find one of those on sale, too.
After we had filled our cart with the desired bounty, we tried to find where the line started that led to the checkout counters.

Imagine our dismay when we learned that the line of people that snaked around at the back of the store, and threaded through every possible aisle, was the line we were seeking. The way we had it figured, we were going to be standing in that line until supper time, and then it was doubtful that we would arrive at the front of the store before it closed.

We pondered our dilemma. Since my mother and I are both diabetics, and my mother’s health isn’t the greatest, we figured this was a bad plan. So we dutifully unpacked our cart, replacing the items in the correct locations. Then we exited the store, still marveling over the line of people that filled every nook and cranny.

Disappointed, we decided to try another store. This store wasn’t as fancy, but we discovered some interesting things. It offered riding carts, which is about the only way my mother can enjoy shopping. She has lupus and a form of rheumatoid arthritis, and her little body doesn’t like walking around in stores. So when we found her a riding cart in this second store, she was elated. It meant that we could take our time cruising the aisles, savoring the holiday atmosphere.

It is fun, watching people, looking at the Christmas displays, and finding cool gifts for a bargain price. We had a delightful time enjoying all of these things. And we found similar items in this second store that had caught our eye(s) in the first store. Most were for less money than what we had discovered in the fancy store. The best part was, when we were ready to leave, we didn’t have to wait long at all to be checked out. It was our suspicion that most of the Black Friday shoppers were frolicking in all of the high-priced, fancy stores . . . standing in line . . . forever. ;)

We left this store in high spirits and journeyed to a nearby restaurant for lunch. We beat the lunch crowd there, since they were all still standing in line somewhere. It was great. And the lesson learned was this: you can still find holiday bargains galore even if you don’t follow the usual trends with regard to Black Friday. Make up your own rules, be flexible, and enjoy yourself. That’s what makes this season fun. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. We didn’t, and with the economy tanking like it did this year, our family plans to keep things pretty simple this holiday season.

Today I imagine we’ll still mingle with holiday shoppers on Black Friday, but it will be done on our terms.
So if you’re out there this Friday, here are a few suggestions to enhance your holiday shopping experience: Be nice, be cheerful, be considerate, be aware of where the restrooms are located, and beware of long lines. ;) {My version of the Beatitudes.} Have fun out there and strive to remember what this upcoming holiday is all about.

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Cindy Beck said...

So, was this Black Friday as fun for you as last year?

I usually don't go because of the crowds, but actually sallied forth this year and found a few items ... and no long lines.

Oh, by the way, thanks for explaining the meaning behind "Black Friday." I thought it had something to do with the plague!:0)

Cheri J. Crane said...

Hi Cindy. =) Because we were traveling to Utah on Black Friday, we didn't venture into the stores until that night. We still found a few bargains and had a lot of fun.

And you're welcome on the explanation of what Black Friday really means. ;)