The Ultimate Black Friday Shopping Survival Tip
I Survive Black Friday – You Can Too
by Damien Andrews
Black Friday is the term for the Friday following Thanksgiving Thursday. Technically, Black Friday marks the first day of that year's Christmas shopping season. Use of the term Black Friday came into vogue sometime in the mid-1960's. It was originally intended that the term Black Friday convey a positive concept: it was the day of the year that retailers went from being in the red (losing money), to being in the black (making money). Over the years the term's original meaning has been lost. The term Black Friday now conjures up visions of stampeding crowds rummaging through sale bins in malls that are grossly overcrowded with rude, short-tempered shoppers and intolerant salespeople.
One element of Black Friday has remained constant since the coining of the term: it is the busiest shopping day of the year. Because of this fact, retail sellers adjust schedules and create sales merchandise to entice their share of the throngs in to purchase their goods. Shoppers too will take steps to participate in the Black Friday madness. Many shoppers will retire early on Thanksgiving so that they can arise and go shopping at midnight – when many retailers open for business on this 'special' day. Other shoppers will arrive at malls and retail stores in the wee hours of the morning and wait in line for hours to ensure that they are among the first into the store, and thus get the bargains before they are gone.
1993 was the first and last year that I shopped on Black Friday. I don't know how I managed to avoid shopping on Black Friday during my 45+ years of life before that. But in 1993 my wife was ill with the flu and her nephew wanted a special toy that was in very short supply. Funny how the year's biggest toy is always in short supply right at Christmas time… Anyway, my wife insisted that I arrive at the store before it opened at 8 AM, and wait. Then, I was instructed to dash to the correct table, scarf up the toy and return home with my precious bounty.
Dutiful husband that I am, I arrived at the store at about 7:30 AM. The first thing I noticed was that there were no reasonable parking spaces available. As I drove around seeking an open spot, I started to realize that this lack of parking did not bode well for my morning's mission. I finally parked and walked about five minutes to the store – or should I say the mob waiting outside the store. I couldn't get within 100' feet of the actual store entrance. I walked casually to the periphery of the mulling multitude and shifted into people watching mode. In retrospect, that was when I should have heeded the clues and made the trek back to my distant car. But then there was my wife – and her nephew – and the toy.
Five minutes after arriving at the crowd's edge, I was no longer on the outskirts, I had become part of the rapidly growing mass of people. The crowd constantly and continuously grew in numbers and tightened itself until I was not even able to reach into my pocket without saying excuse me to one or two people. My courteous words fell on deaf ears. This crowd's only intent was to get closer to the sealed doors of the store – as if that would get them inside quicker, or ensure that their item was still available. By the time the store's doors were finally opened, I was fifteen feet from the outer edge of the now angry mob (they thought the store was opening 1-2 minutes late) and packed in as tightly as any sardine has ever been. I coveted the oil those diminutive fish have to wriggle around in…
By the time I passed through the store's threshold, my jaw was clenched in anxiety and my body was tightened to withstand the repeated impacts of the stampeding cattle behind me. Realizing that I had absolutely no chance of getting a salesperson to show me where my limited supply toy was located, I transformed into that which surrounded me. I started to push and fight my way through tons of human flesh in an attempt to get to a spot where fewer people blocked my access to the store's aisles. Fifteen minutes and several bruises later, I reached the empty table where the elusive toys had once been stacked for shoppers. I tried to be civil about my retreat to the car, but getting out of the store was almost as challenging as getting in.
That was, as I said, the last year I participated in Black Friday. It was also the first year I tried to figure out ways to better cope with Black Friday – even though I knew it would be my loving wife who would face the madding crowds on future Black Fridays. My first reasonable thoughts were of things like steel-toed boots and bulky protective clothing. My unreasonable thoughts included carrying a compressed air boat horn or a handheld taser gun. Clearly, my contemplated solutions to the abusive insanity of Black Friday were just not going to cut it. I needed a new perspective and a workable solution.
Okay, here it is. What you've been waiting for. The ultimate Black Friday shopping survival tip: do not go out and shop on Black Friday! Let me say that again, so that it's nice and clear: do not go out and shop on Black Friday! Instead, do some shopping, and your planning for shopping on your computer. I know you have one because you're reading this. It's a great way to avoid the hassles and potential injuries, and it is also eminently practical from a financial perspective.
The internet provides the frugal shopper with the ultimate comparison shopping tool. Let's look an example of what I am talking about. I want a new Makita pneumatic nail gun for Christmas this year. I prefer the model AN922. I looked it up on the internet and found it for sale, new, from $130 - $841. The local hardware store has it for $379. Hmmm let me see, where should I tell my wife (I mean Santa) to purchase this tool for me? Including the $23 shipping, my wife can get the tool on line for $153. That's a savings of $235 when compared to buying it locally and applicable sales taxes are figured in. Countless similar examples of fantastic deals await the savvy internet shopper.
Nobody wants to get trampled or banged around while they're shopping. The economy is not good. Everyone is watching their dollars closely. Everyone wants to drive less to help the environment. This year, and every year from now on, consider not going out and shopping on Black Friday. Consider the alternative I've suggested here. I know it's an extreme idea, but try it. You'll save gas, save time, save money – and likely hold onto a higher opinion of your fellow human beings.