I have a riddle for you.
Where do you find a bunch of crazy people crowded together before daylight without their straight jackets on?
Answer: Black Friday, otherwise known as the Day after Thanksgiving Day sales. And I say that with love, people, because I’ve been a loyal attendee for years.
When I lived in Utah my ex and I were great Black Friday strategists; we would pour over the ads and make lists of where to go and at what time. We would wake up at 4 and wouldn’t get home until after 10 (for you sane people, that’s in the a.m.). And while I haven’t had much experience shopping in Idaho Falls, Black Friday in Utah was more than a day, it was an Olympic event.
I made my sister, a Black Friday virgin, come with me one year. She was amazed to see retailers passing out refreshments to 5am shoppers on their way into stores. But on Black Friday those shoppers are more like marathoners taking the paper cups of orange juice and hot chocolate to pour over their heads as they start the grand competition called Christmas Sale Shopping.
We quickly learned that the shopping cart was a great handicap; the best Black Friday shoppers go armed with a billfold and their own two hands, ready to carry everything from a 32” plasma TV to stacks of Spiderman action figures. And besides, you could get stuck in an aisle for hours trying to maneuver your cart around crazed shoppers.
The really serious shoppers tag-team shop, with walkie talkies in hand as they work through their lists, elbowing old ladies and children who may stumble into their way.
This year, however, my ex and I (in disagreement on just about everything but shopping) decided to sleep in and go a little later this year. What we discovered was that you don’t avoid the crazies that way. While you do avoid the strategists, the Type-A shoppers with lists and hand signals and shopping paraphernalia, you don’t avoid the lazy crazies, who, like us, decided to roll out of bed at, heaven forbid, seven in the morning only to discover that the $20 acoustic guitars and $80 digital cameras were, alas, all gone.
But even thus impaired, we still managed to spend over $100 before noon on Black Friday, standing in shorter lines and fighting smaller crowds. You pick your battles, I guess, even on the fierce field of Christmas shopping.
But maybe the true winner in all of this is my mother who called me the other day to say, “Watch for Zack’s Christmas present. I bought it on QVC and had it shipped to you.” And, following a lengthy conversation on Christmas shopping, added, “I just may avoid the stores all together and get all your presents on QVC this year…”