Black Friday & Me (or not me)
Posted November 27, 2009on:
I shopped Black Friday before the general public – including me – knew the name. It was a term used in retail to mark the day when they finally became profitable. Or marked the beginning of the season that made them profitable (They hope.) Now it’s used in advertising so we all use Black Friday in our jargon.
The day after Thanksgiving became a sport for my friend, Dorothy, and me when we recognized one Thanksgiving that stores were giving away free junk to get us in early – maybe 6 a.m. In those days, you got a Shopper’s Survival Kit at Target, a rose at the mall and ornaments at different places. Coffee and cookies were supplied at different stores.
We had so much fun that the next year that our friend, Betty – not a morning person – joined us and then the next year so did Diane. One year we received – rain deer antlers or elf hats. We could look as ridiculous as we actually were when we ran from store to store. It became trickier as our car got fuller – with people and stuff. Still, we did little actual buying – our mission was clear.
I must say that my daughter Maggie and Dorothy’s daughter Amy did not approve at first. It was not cool until they were in college or Amy was a senior in high school. Then they joined their moms on this trek for greed and loved it. At the same time, Diane started going with her daughters separately, but we were still able to drag Betty from bed to laugh along with us.
It was my job to create an itinerary – with a timeline for when we’d go to each store plus and smart aleck comments. We’d leave home well before light with our plan and coffee and/or Dr Pepper to keep us going.
It was pretty damn fun, especially as stores added more free junk. We competed with each other to get the most of these tchotchkes, a Yiddish word for either “a little plaything” or “an inexpensive, unimportant think, a geegaw; a trinket.” (That’s according to the Joys of Yiddish.)
Getting loaded back in the mini van after each stop, assuming I remembered where I parked, was always a challenge as we ran in those early days. One year Shopko gave out these laughing character thingabobs that made very obnoxious sounds. That did not keep us from going to multiple Shopkos to get more than one.
And let me tell you, nobody is better at working her way through a crowd than Betty. She may be small, but she’s mighty. And she has grandchildren who could be the recipients of this junk – and I mean junk. It was really worthwhile to her, especially if she managed to show me she already had two from the same store while I was only on my way in.
Afterwards, though, we were kind of embarrassed by how much we had gotten, except for Betty who at least had recipients for the tchotchkes, not that anyone in her family would know the term. We were happy to give our stuff to her to relieve our guilt as the best part of the day was the hunt, not actually having these obnoxious characters.
Black Friday was clearly a highlight of the holiday season in terms of laughter and craziness. But then stores realized they weren’t making money by giving away free stuff. We could have told them that. Fewer and fewer offered anything. Now they have super bargains for those who want to spend money. But they are limited in quantity, a reason some folks line up at Best Buy two days early. I personally would not want to wait in line for hours to buy these loss leaders assuming we were able to get our hands on one of the limited supply items.
The last two years, Maggie and I went shopping in Overland Park, KS, since we were there for Thanksgiving. A friend of Maggie’s and her mother joined us that first year at 4 a.m. at Kohl’s. The following year Maggie’s aunt in law came with us for sales that started at midnight.
This year, I stayed in bed as the last thing I needed was to have little sleep and then be with crowds of people who are infested with who knows what. (I know who you are, you germ-carrying shoppers.) 🙂
This year Maggie planned to skip the after Thanksgiving sales, but she got the itch once she saw the ads in the La Crosse Tribune and was pulled by the tradition. I can’t blame her. Since I wasn’t going, she decided to drag her little brother along to go shopping. They returned just as I started writing this entry and reporting having a great time. It was good sibling bonding stuff. Note: Maggie knew better than to bring her husband with her.
Maggie and Michael also ran into Dorothy and Amy. Naturally.
I don’t feel a bit sad about missing sthe after Thanksgiving sales – but I’m adding it to the list of “wait until next year.”
That list of things I’ll do after I finish my cancer treatment is getting longer and longer. It will take more than a year to fit “next year” into “next year.” Maybe lots of years. Lots and lots of years.
That’s the plan.
Happy shopping everyone. But more than that, happy continued family and friends times. And good health to all and to all good health.