Got turkey? Got Black Friday sales? Got money left (for Cyber Monday)?
If you are in the US, you know Thanksgiving was just a few days ago. Hopefully you and yours had a wonderful one.
If not, hope you had a fantastic Thursday.
And if you’re in the US, you probably had a chaotic Friday, especially if you had to work retail. The evil **BLACK FRIDAY** (OoOoOooh!)
Believe it or not, once upon a time I had no idea Black Friday was even a thing. Sure, it was the Friday after Thanksgiving but I had no idea why I got the day off. This may sound silly, but I just thought it was one of those deals where people would rather have 4 days off instead of just Thanksgiving and going back to work.
Made sense to me!
Then an ex introduced me to Black Friday. Prior to that I don’t think I even knew it was called that. Year after year I had blissfully slept off my Thanksgiving dinner while other people waited, freezing out on sidewalks and in parking lots, standing in ridiculously long lines for “amazing deals”.
When I first went to a Black Friday sale, just to see it, I was amazed at the giant mob of people standing outside of Walmart. It was around 4am and there were people waiting in line circled around the back of the store for goodness-knows how long. After the entire mob went in, we went in to look around. If I was going to be up at 4am, you better believe I was going to do something!
I still remember what I walked in to see. Cheap Durabrand hand vacs, stereos, and other cheap and generally worthless “gifts” for about $20 a piece. These are the type of items that are only great gift ideas to people who don’t care or are just interested in the immediate impression. i.e. “Oh my gosh Uncle, thanks for this new stereo!” – the same that breaks down a week later. I couldn’t figure out why people would wait for hours and hours, pack themselves into the stores, risk being stampeded (no, seriously) – for cheap $20 gifts.
*Scoff* I was a novice then, undoubtedly. Fast-forward to this year.
This year, people started lining up outside Best Buy on Wednesday. Wednesday! What were these people waiting in line for? What did they miss Thanksgiving with their family for?
Mostly a 42″ TV for $200.
Yes, that is a good deal. It is around $100 off up to about a full 50% or more for a similar sized television.
Black Friday masquerades as being this excellent time for Christmas shopping. In some ways, yes, it is. Toy prices are slashed, clothing is on sale, some appliances are sold at ridiculously low prices, DVDs and CDs are sold at lower prices. Many of the best sales are roughly 50% discounts.
When they interviewed people at Best Buy, missing Thanksgiving dinner with their families, they often claimed they were doing it “for the kids”.
Really? Your kid needs a 42″ flat-screen TV?
Personally, I saw an office chair I liked on sale at Staples. Yes, it was for my own use. For $40, I was in need of a new office chair (blogging is more comfortable at ergonomic height!). At Ashley Furniture, there was a $89 leather couch to the first 25 shoppers. I wanted that too.
But when was the last time you saw a sofa gift-wrapped under the tree?
It’s not something to be entirely ashamed of. If you are really “needing” something (no one needs a 42″ flat-screen), and suddenly you can get it super cheap, why not? Save a little money over all. The shameful part is those people that act as if they are going entirely to Christmas shop but instead are stocking up on things they want.
“$200 TV for me… $10 board game for the kids.”
You could hardly say I shop “Black Friday” at all. I mostly observe the people willing to freeze in order to get their hands on a new laptop. But when I do, I admit I go for whatever I can for cheap that I “need”. If I happen to find something excellent for someone else, I’ll buy it too.
That’s because I really enjoy the thought that goes into Christmas shopping. It doesn’t always work like that, but I enjoy thinking about what someone would want or need and picking that up. A gift, as opposed to merely a present.
You can’t do that with Black Friday. Black Friday shopping takes some planning, by checking all the ads for the best deals and plotting where you will station yourself while waiting for the store to open. However, the people that literally camp out in front of the door are the ones waiting for the deals on electronics – usually laptops and TVs. Many other purchases are impulse buys on stuff that is cheap.
What really hit me this year, more than ever before, was that Black Friday is really just about greed. The people that are camping out, lining up for over 24 hours, aren’t waiting for kids’ games.
I enjoy taking my time and trying to find something that is within budget but that will still really make the recipient happy. If I can’t get it at some ridiculously cheap price, so be it. But to me, that still beats buying some cheap hand vac that someone “could like” just because it was inexpensive and convenient. In the end, I think my recipient will appreciate the thoughtfulness more than me buying myself a 42″ flat-screen and giving them whatever I could afford afterward.
If you really like shopping and live for the sales, by all means go for it. Be sure to arrive early. But you won’t find me standing in the line.