Fifteen years ago I participated in my one and only Black Friday sale. I wanted to purchase the $3 Barbie for my daughter that Target was offering. I got up early so I could be at Target when they opened at 6 am. I came up over the hill at the West Des Moines Target and the people in the parking lot blew me away. I think my comment was “holy crap.” I had never seen so many people waiting for a store to open. There were three lines of people that reached all the way to the back of the parking lot, and it was a big lot.
When the doors opened it was a stampede. I got the last shopping cart, which had a baby seat and set off into the store to find this cheap Barbie. Let me tell you, when I grabbed that cart I wondered why I was even there. I couldn’t see over the baby seat and I kept bumping into people since there was no where to go with all the people.
When I got to the toy aisle, there were no Barbies, the shelf was empty. I thought “Well at least I tried.” When I went to walk away, one of the Target associates walked up with a box of Barbies. They could barely cut the box open before the women, who were probably all moms, dove for that box. I stood there thinking “who are these people and what was I thinking.” I waited until they cleared out of the aisle then I walked down and asked for one of the Barbies. I also thanked the worker, unlike the other people who were practically knocking each other over so they could grab a Barbie out of the box.
After that experience, I vowed never to leave the house on Black Friday, at least don’t go near a store. It was just such a traumatic experience that I cringe when I hear the words Black Friday.
People were pushing and shoving and were rude to each other. Not like some of the footage we’ve seen on the news over the years where people are trampled and killed by the crazed shoppers. Fights break out and for what, the privilege to spend money for something they probably didn’t need.
A few days ago I started wondering when Black Friday came about and found that it was coined in the 1960’s to kickoff the Christmas shopping season to make companies go from red to black. This was when companies actually wrote with red and black ink in their ledgers.
Retailers slowly realized they could draw big crowds by discounting prices on Black Friday, which created the upswing in craziness. At first the best deals were electronics then retailers put everything on sale to draw the crowds. Several items are discounted so low the retailers lose money on the item, but they do it to draw the shoppers in to purchase other items.
Each year stores try to outdo each other by opening up earlier and earlier. This year stores opened the evening of Thanksgiving. Everyone I’ve talked to thought it was wrong for stores to open on Thanksgiving. My friend Doug said the following, which I totally agree. “You know I don’t really mind if stores want to open on Thanksgiving Day SO LONG as it is the Shareholders, Stockholders, CEOs, Executives and Managers that have to get up from their family meals to go staff the store during those hours. Yep totally fine with that scenario.” I hope one day the craziness will stop, but I doubt it.
Until next time….enjoy the view from your passenger seat.