Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

Black Friday and I are not a good fit. The only thing I hate worse than shopping is Christmas shopping, which is fighting crowds to shop for someone else. The thought of shopping on the busiest shopping day of the year has always seemed like torture, which is why I had never been shopping on the day after Thanksgiving...until today. Well, it was actually late last night. My shopping started at 8:45 in the evening and lasted until 1:30 this morning.

I had heard the stories of the crazy shoppers camping out until the store doors open and then scrambling to get the hot items. It didn't seem like something I ever wanted to witness. The motivation to finally join the ranks of Black Friday loonies came when Todd found an advertisement for a very low-priced XBox bundle at Walmart. He had said he wanted an XBox for Christmas, and we had decided that if we could find a good enough deal then we would get one. The deal he found was about $100 less than what I had been expecting to pay, so it seemed like it would be worth waiting in line and then withstanding a bit of pushing and shoving for a chance to get such a great deal. Plus, it seemed like it would be interesting to observe some of the crazy shoppers. I even toyed with the idea of bringing a video camera to document the experience.

Todd and I went to Walmart at 8:45 last night. I didn't have any idea what to expect, but I assumed a lot of waiting outdoors would be involved. We prepared for the worst. We brought heavy coats, soda, the Nintendo DS, and even a football. When we arrived, I couldn't believe how many cars were there. The parking lot for the Layton Walmart is *huge*, and it was full. People were having to park across the street. We found what looked like the last parking spot in front of Bajio and then walked to the store.

We thought the doors didn't open until 10:00, so I was a bit surprised to find that the store was already open. We were able to walk right in. However, no one was able to buy anything yet--the registers were closed. People were filling their shopping carts and then getting in the huge lines at the check-out. The place was a mad house. The special-priced items were on pallets throughout the store, so people were wandering around trying to find what they were looking for. Movies were in the dairy aisle, TVs were by the pharmacy, and the Wiis were in Produce. Every aisle was congested with pallets, wandering shoppers, or people waiting in line. And there were sooo many people. I couldn't believe it. It was like a bad dream.

Depending on the item you were looking for, you might or might not be able to put it in your cart. You could take a normal item, but the hot items were wrapped in cellophane  Depending on the item, you either had to huddle around the pallet until the appointed time--each item had a different time it was available--or you took a ticket and got in line. Just like the lines at the check-out, these lines weren't moving yet.

After wandering around for a while we found the XBox line. It weaved its way through Apparel. After a bit more searching we found the location where the line was forming--the location where they hand out the tickets. Luckily, they still had a few tickets left. We had arrived early enough to get what we came for! It appeared to me to be the hottest item in the store, so we felt pretty lucky.

We were instructed by the lady handing out tickets that if we got out of line we'd lose our ticket, so I left Todd to wait for his XBox and I went to do more shopping. There were a few other items that were on sale that I thought would be nice to get. I knew I could only get in one other line, so I tried to find some of the things that you didn't have to wait in line for. However, they were going fast. The movies had been picked over to the point that I hadn't even heard of any of the ones that were left; the desktop computer I was interested in had been taken; and all of the Wii games were gone. Oh well. We already got what we came for.

I remembered that my sister Andrea was interested in getting a Wii, so I went and got in line for that. In the meantime, Todd was the victim of a bit of "Black Friday Rage." He had been sitting on the ground while he waited in line. He was playing with the DS with his back to some of the shelves. An old woman came up and said "Excuse me." He looked at her, but then concluded she was talking to the person next to him in line and went back to his game. She was evidently displeased with his non-compliance and gave him a little whack in the head with her purse! Shocked, Todd didn't say anything at all and moved out of her way. Crazy.

They were scheduled to start handing out a lot of the items--including both the XBoxes and the Wiis--at 10:00, so I still had a bit of a wait. When the time arrived, people throughout the store started cheering. At first I thought it was a bit bizarre to get excited about being able to buy an electronic item, but then I realized that they were cheering that they finally got to start moving through the line. I'll bet some of those people had been there a really long time.

I got the Wii, then headed over to meet Todd as he got his XBox. Then we got in line for the check-out. When we got in the line we were by the bread. I don't know if you know the layout of the Layton Walmart, but the bread is about as far away from the registers as you can get. This wouldn't have been so bad, but the line was barely moving at all. We ended up being in that line for over an hour and a half. Ugh. We were in line with our friends the Wilkos. That made the time pass more quickly. We also drank our sodas and Todd played the DS. (No, we didn't throw the football.) But, it was still painful.

When I finally got to check out, I lightheartedly told the lady at the register that I hoped they paid her extra for working that day. Her response was "Nope!" That was it. She kept on working without even looking at me.

After we finished at Walmart we still had more shopping to do. We went to Target to join Rita and her sister Stephanie who were already in line. The line was outdoors, so we put the football to use after all. Compared to Target, Walmart was a ghost town. The line for Target was almost all the way around the building. Think about that for a minute. That's a quarter-mile long line. At midnight. For a chance some stuff.

When they opened the doors it was a stampede. People were running to get it. They were hopping the barricades they had set up in the parking lot. Inside the store it was just as bad. People were scurrying around the store looking for things. They had blocked off the checkout area to cut down on traffic, but that just confused people because they didn't know how to get to the other side of the store. A worker was yelling so that people knew they had to go around. Things were flying off the shelves.

Rita went directly to Electronics and got in line to get an iPod Touch. They weren't out on the shelves like all the other items, which I think confused people. Rita had asked a worker, so she knew to go straight to the line and got a pretty good place. Meanwhile, Todd and I roamed around looking for other items. We got a $10 HDMI cable, a $30 camera, and some board games. Or, I should say Todd did. I don't know that I was the one that found any of things we were looking for.

We had to wait in line for an hour to get the Touch. Luckily we were able to also pay for all of our items at the Electronics register. The thought of waiting in line again would have been too much. At this point, we were exhausted and went home.

It was an interesting experience full of dichotomies. On the one hand it was totally painful, but on the other hand we got the items we were looking for at a good price. It was fascinating so see all the people and all the mayhem, but not fun at all to be part of it. It's great that our society is wealthy enough to afford high-tech electronic devices, but sad that our materialistic nature will make us do some crazy things. Of the crazy things we do in our society, one of the craziest has to be Black Friday.


Beverly said...

You should have done what Scott did. He called Best Buy Friday morning a 9:30 Friday morning and they held the iPod until he got there. They even had a leather case and screen protector as well. No lines. Nothing. And at a good price too.

Beverly said...

Correction: it was an iPad.

Rita said...

You were such a good sport. Thanks for taking Todd and thanks for keeping me company in my long line. Since our kids were asking for pricey items this year, I hope it seemed worth it.

Barb said...

Glad it was you and not me.

Andrea said...

Thanks for doing all the work for me! I'm excited for the Black Friday deal I got, without having to brave the Black Friday crowds!