Black Friday doesn’t have to leave you feeling blue
I survived Black Friday.
I was curious about the origin of Black Friday, so I did a quick search of Wikipedia and found the term “Black Friday” has been traced back to the 1970s. Originally, it was so named because of the heavy traffic on that day, although most contemporary uses of the term refer instead to it as the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black.
If you still don’t know what I am talking about, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and is also known as the busiest shopping day of the year.
While driving to our Thanksgiving destination, my wife informed me that a couple of stores were opening at 4 a.m. on Black Friday. I mused that it was only a matter of time before stores would start opening at midnight on the day after Thanksgiving.
Too late. Centerra, the mall on the freeway outside Loveland opened this year at ” guess when ” midnight. One of the topics of discussion at our Thanksgiving meal was the individual preference over staying up late and going shopping or getting up early. Generally speaking, the younger people in the crowd said they would opt for the staying up late, while the more seasoned shoppers determined that an early start was the way to go.
Due to various mechanical difficulties, my wife and I had to borrow a car for our Thanksgiving travels. I decided that I didn’t want my wife to have the additional hassle of driving a borrowed car. Both of my daughters had to work, so they decided they didn’t want to add an early morning shopping trip to their schedules.
That left me on the hook. I was to be the designated driver. The most important decision I made was to start the day with a good attitude. No real need to punish my wife for my aversion to shopping.
I woke up at 5 a.m. My wife had a plan in place. Every store has a “hook,” an unbelievable deal that is simply too good to be true. The catch is that they have a limited supply of those items and they don’t offer “rainchecks” for those items when they are gone. One year, I purchased an item of which, I later discovered, there were exactly two in all of the stores in that particular chain in the Fort Collins and Greeley area. That to me is borderline false advertising, but to my wife it is all part of the game. On our list we had a specialized reading lamp at Michael’s, a battery-powered drill at either Sears or K-Mart, a certain DVD at Target, sweatshirts at JC Penneys or Wal-Mart and another item (I never learned of its identity so I have a suspicion it is a gift for me) at Big Lots. Anything else would be gravy.
I would like to say that we batted 100 percent. We didn’t. The reading lamp and whatever we were aiming at for Big Lots! were secured as was the DVD. However, the sweatshirts we sought didn’t match what was promised in the advertisements and we were stumped at both retail locations. The drills were long gone at K-Mart and at Sears I had my only bout with claustrophobia and I bolted for the door. Otherwise it was a good day. Many non-advertised bargains were secured and we were able to keep away from the trap of impulse shopping. That I am convinced is the real key to a successful “Black Friday” for retailers.
What I didn’t find was surliness. I don’t know what I expected, but with that many people seeking the same target I anticipated more of a sense of dissatisfaction.
I must say that there was a bit of dodgy driving. There was definitely a look of determination on the faces of several drivers, some of whom were perusing ads while navigating to the next store. Once inside, however, people were polite and even courteous. No tug-of-wars over the last of a coveted item or people diving toward an endcap display were observed by this reporter.
I was also able to contribute to the Salvation Army coffers at several locations. I am a real sucker for the sound of that bell. I spread my Kansas charm as far as it would go and found it returned in kind many times. And, when the day was done and my wife and I were driving home, I was informed that I had been a real trooper. I am sure she had expected my usual tactics of heavy sighing, foot tapping and watch tapping.
I don’t know if I will make Black Friday and annual tradition, but I found it appealed to my hunter-gatherer instincts.
I wonder if that is part of the marketing strategy?
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