Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday Burn-out

I'd like to know who came up with the idea that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the day that should become "Black Friday?" Is it that it's a 4-day weekend for most, opening up prime shopping time before returning to work and school? Is it that it officially opens up the Christmas season? (Which is a joke any more given that glittery, plug-in Christmas trees start showing up in the Big Box Stores round-about the same time Halloween costumes start coming down.) Is it what happens when the economy goes slightly crazy?

Yeah, I know. All of the above.

But I think the comic up there is fitting. Let's spend a day of feast, plenty, and giving thanks, with family and friends, content with what we have...only to then go home, set the alarm for a bizarre middle-of-the-night wake up time, and go out with the masses to "shop till you drop." It's craziness, I tell you! Madness indeed! I find it additionally frustrating, that marketing advertisers play on the tight economic times (and everyone's own tight budgets) by dangling the carrot of "Deals, deals, deals!" in front of us. So, Pavlovian as we all are, shoppers head to the stores...hypnotized much like the followers of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Of course, it might go without saying that I'm not a shopper. Spending hard-earned, valuable monetary resources on a boatload of stuff that a year from now you won't remember...not my thing. Add in the millions of people, the traffic, the lines. Definitely not my thing. (Remember, I'm the one who, a few short weeks ago, cleaned my garage, shaking my head all the while.)

However, one year (not so many years ago) we actually did try to take advantage of the advertised mucho mega "Black Friday" sales. I believe a big screen TV was our quest. We showed up at the store at 3 a.m. to wait outdoors, shivering in a cold and lengthy line, complete w/ blankets to keep warm and chairs to be comfy. They let us in at 5 a.m (or was it 6?), where...just as all the video footage you've ever seen...people bolted in the store and up the escalator. I'm talking sprinting, get out of the way or you'll get hurt, through the stores, up the stairs, sprinting. This was a "respectable department store" too, not the madness of a crazy over-crowded mega-mart.

Of course, the quest led to an over-small, over-crowded electronics department with yet another line, and numbers being handed out. Surprise to no one but perhaps me, they were under-stocked (purposely) but had lots of other inviting things that perhaps we'd want to purchase instead. Yeah, no thanks. So we went home empty-handed, disgusted with the whole ordeal, and I think we were napping by 9 am. So not worth it. Again, big surprise to no one but me!

And yet, according to Tampa Bay Newspaper's Online Edition "Black Friday" business will be booming this year: (from
"Nationally, more than 138 million people are expected to head to the stores on Black Friday weekend, and millions have spent time mapping out their strategy and completing their shopping lists. According to a National Retail Federation survey by BIGresearch, of the 138 million who say they plan to shop, 60 million say they will definitely shop this weekend, while 78 million say they’ll wait and see how good the deals are before deciding to brave the crowds and traffic."
Annie Leonard, creator of The Story of Stuff, wrote a very powerful blog this November 23rd entitled "Choose Family Over Frenzy" (find it here: In it, she talked abut how, by this past Tuesday, she'd gotten 7 email ads for "Black Friday" sales. It got me curious and counting my own inbox: 20 in the 24 hrs of post-Thanksgiving/pre-"Black Friday" frenzy. All from caring merchants either thanking me for my previous shopping or my wish to be on their newsletter list. Thank you so much for kindly thinking of me! Delete. Delete. Delete.

So Black Friday has come and gone for 2010, but there's still Cyber Monday, and a whole season of shopping ahead. It does bring about the curiosity of what the credit card bills and garages across our country will look like for 2011 ahead.

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