Black Friday was a colossal, monumental bust for me. It scored less than zero on each and every meter or scale I can conjure.
Before you start bah humbugging me, hear me out.
Remember that I am a shopping afficianando; I can turn shopping into an art form and a treasure hunt. The key for me, however, is fun. And, it is definitely not fun to me or for me to move sideways in the aisles of a store. It is not that nifty to shop without a cart. I don’t relish parking 3 city blocks away and walking to the store. I don’t like standing in lines, before, during or after the actual shopping event. I especially do not appreciate changing my plans, running over to that big box or mall store only to find out that the store did not honor its “rules” and opened early.
Let me translate for you with specifics. I allowed a certain store, which opened at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, to lure me into its store with its circular ads. I chose a less central location to visit and was shocked frankly that there was not a parking space available in the entire lot. My friend parked her van quite a distance away, somewhat precariously, although may others followed her lead. We entered the store at 10:03 p.m. There were no carts available. There were throngs of people everywhere, including in check out lines. (How did they get what they wanted in 3 minutes?????). We hurried back to the games and DVDs area, passing people who were grabbing things frantically, as if it was a nuclear war or hurricane preparedness. There was not a sales associate in site. Cabinets that are normally locked were wide open and I was scavenging for the one item I wanted, with more diligence and tenacity than reserved for a favorite garage sale. Alas, I was out of luck, the fun sucked right out of me. We left, discouraged and miffed that the store opened at 9:45 pm and we knew nothing about it. We had been left on the proverbial sidelines. We drove by another big box store that opened at midnight. There was a line around the building, with 90 minutes left before opening.
My jaw dropped open. I am not kidding. I was totally in disbelief. Isn’t there a recession? Are toys and electronics more important than food, medicine or rent? What was in the ads that so many people thought was/were good enough to subject oneself to this? Are we really this bored with Thanksgiving, our families, and/or our lives to make this the most meaningful thing to do at this time of the day/night?
As I said previously, I am not anti-shopping. I shop almost every day of the year. However, I don’t let the stores manipulate me. I control the experience, the cost, the event.
One strategy that I often use when shopping is the price match one. I can go to a store that will match or beat the price stated by another store in printed written material, flyer, ad or circular. I tried that today (after a good night’s sleep when the crowds died down a bit). I went to Target, noting that it matches prices. (It says so across/around the store and on their ads.) I found the item I wanted and brought the Black Friday Ad to Customer Service. They refused to match it. They indicated that although they say they match, their policy is so restrictive, very few items are actually price matched. (For example, they thought the item I wanted at Walmart would be limited in quantity….aren’t all items limited in quantity with some sort of inventory control?????….so no go.) Frankly, I find that policy illusory, if not deceptive, and I intend to let Target know that in no uncertain terms. I encourage you to do the same!!!! I can talk with my voice and my feet, big giant store!, and so can you.
So, what now? Once again I must turn to the garage sale. My love affair with and passion for the yard sale is reinvigorated and validated. (You knew we would get there. Hah!) Seriously, there is hardly a single thing that I cannot find at a garage sale for a dollar. I plan for this, at each and every garage sale of the season. I buy coats in July, toys in September, and so on and so forth. And if I need to, I can retail shop as well. There, however, I pay close attention to true value and what coupons I may have to make the deal sweeter. (Drugstores make this fun too, btw).
Bottom line: I can make any day a Black Friday.