Black Friday Shopping

T’was the night before Black Friday and all through Grandma’s house the men were watching football and the women were endlessly paging through the newspaper advertisements, making lists and devising a plan of attack.

Through the usual family chit-chat, my sister and I overheard a mention of the mall near Grandma’s home opening at midnight.  Eyes gleaming, we exchanged glances and joked about setting out on an early morning shopping spree. Emphasis on early.

Well, as usual with my sister, the joke turned into more joking which eventually became ridiculous planning.  If we were up and by 1 a.m., we could get “warmed up” at the mall, go to the opening of Kohl’s at 3 a.m. and then to the Target opening at 4 a.m.  Wouldn’t that be crazy?!?

Yeah. It would be, but the more we talked it through, the more it seemed like the only logical plan.

Despite having only two hours of sleep prior to a buzzing alarm at 1 a.m., we awoke with the same level of excitement we went to sleep with and were out the door within five minutes. Early, early, early morning Black Friday shopping was something I had never experienced.  I was hoping to get a nice TV and see at least one fight.

At such an insane hour, we expected light crowds.  We had predictions of being the only shoppers roaming a deserted mall while the rest of the world was doing normal things like sleeping, spending time with family or eating more pumpkin pie.

The incredible crowds at every store that morning were a good indication that we weren’t the only fanatics who had paged through the stack of flyers in search of motivating doorbusters.

Shoppers hustled in and out of the outlet mall, trying to avoid the cold. We browsed the shops and decided a 2:45 a.m. departure was necessary in order to arrive at Kohl’s in time for their opening.  Once again, we were not the only ones with this plan.  We might as well have ordered a party bus for all the deal-getters to avoid the congestion in the mall parking lot and then again in the Kohl’s parking lot. While we were at it, all passengers could have all taken a few shots of Tequila. Some of these shoppers needed to relax!

Pulling into the parking lot, I finally learned what all the huff is about on Black Friday. A thick line of people wrapped around the building. Unaware of how long they had been standing out in the freezing temps, I determined I would never stand in the cold to save any amount of money. Entering the store with true crazies, the thought of getting shot, stabbed or punched in the face wasn’t too far in the back of my mind. When we finally got inside shoppers were dashing around loading up on bedding, vacuum cleaners, slow cookers, digital picture frames and pots and pans. Needless to say, there weren’t many men to be seen.

We had our arms full within about 15 minutes.  Ironically, we only had one doorbuster. We could have purchased the rest of our items with ease at 4 p.m. had we been patient (and more intelligent). Since our main purpose was to get to Target for the big T.V. sale, we decided to check out. Unfortunately, we discovered a line unlike any line I’ve experienced in my entire shopping career.  We began to realize we (along with everyone in line behind us) had no chance of making it to Target by 4 a.m. for the 40-inch T.V.

My sister quickly began revising our plan.  We made friends with the ladies behind us and discovered their next destination was also Target (surprise, surprise). She proposed I leave her to go try my luck at Target. So I left my sister to wait in line and make awkward conversation with our new “friends” from who she eventually asked for a ride to Target. Yes, I ditched my sister for a 40-inch TV that I’d likely only get if tackled someone and put them in the sleeper hold.

The opening of Target was even more outrageous. Choice words were being exchanged. People in line looked like they had been trapped in a freezer for 24 hours and there was more than one police car parked at the door.

Once inside, I hustled to the TV area to find my intended Black Friday special. As expected, the area was vacant except for a man with a 46” TV in his cart who laughed at me and informed me that I was “about 3,000 people too late.”

Since the man was too large to put in the sleeper hold, I ended up with no TV, and after some more sleep and a breakfast, we ended up going back to the store during “normal people” hours.

At least I can say I’ve given early morning Black Friday shopping a try.  I just wish I could say I put up a fight. Or at least saw one.

Shootin’ the Wit is a weekly column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.

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