Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Found the "Black" in Black Friday

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was awesome! It is so good to be able to just relax with my family. We went to my mom's at 2 on Thursday and my Aunt's at 5 on Friday. Good people, good fun, good food... truly a time when you are reminded about all that you have to be thankful for.

If you are a longtime follower of this blog, or just a friend, you know that my family likes to shop the day after Thanksgiving. The tradition started years ago. I don't know exactly how old we were the first time that Laura, Jenna and I scoured the ads on Thanksgiving day and ventured out into the cold for some Christmas shopping. I know that I was still too young to drive because we had to ask my grandmother to drop us off at the mall and pick us up a few hours later. We have pretty much continued the tradition every year. Last year was the first year that I didn't have any money to shop, when the time came. And I know there have been a year or two when we didn't get up super early, but just when we woke up, around 9:00. But for the most part, we are ad-hunting, list making, stand in line in the cold, die-hard shoppers.

I have always kind of taken offense to the term "Black Friday". They make it sound so evil! And how can something that brings us such fun and saves us money at the same time, be bad? But this year I have come to understand - there is definitely a black side to this day. It's at Wal-mart.

Oh. My. Goodness.

So here's the deal. I looked through the ads several times on Thursday making notes and forming plans, and in the end, there were just a handful of stores that I wanted to visit. Kohl's had a good ad, but I have learned from past experience, that it's not a good fit for me on this shopping day. I don't mind waiting in line for the store to open, but waiting in line for 2 hours to check out just isn't my thing. And that store always has good sales. Not just on that day. So it is a store that I generally avoid on the day after Thanksgiving. Toys-R-Us always has a great ad, and I do have a lot of children to buy for, but last year I discovered some other stores wear I find amazing toys for unbeatable prices, so this year, I just didn't feel the need to go to Toys-R-Us. We don't buy electronics on this day, so that cuts a lot of stores out of the picture. It is just simple gifts on our list this year.

There was nothing big at Wal-Mart that I wanted, but several little things that I thought would be nice gifts. Their sale started at 10:00 but they would be open all day (I think?) so you could be in the store and not have to wait in line outside. My thinking was that I could go around 8:00, take my time finding everything that I wanted to buy, and then it would be quick to grab and go when the time came.

I have gone to Wal-Mart plenty of times on Black Friday, but never when the sale first began. And now that I have done it, I know to never, ever, to it again. First of all, all of the "door busters", which I guess meant everything in the ad, were not on shelves, but in stacks around the store and covered by black shrink-wrap so you couldn't see what was what. But some of the stacks had boxes on top that you could see, or at the bottom, so I thought that I knew the general area where my product would be. The other things I was looking for were clothes and DVDs, so I knew where to find them. So I picked a spot next to my tower of shrink-wrapped mystery and waited. When I got there at 8:00, there were probably a dozen other people standing and waiting. As 10:00 got closer, more people came and eventually we were packed in like sardines.

At this point, I could tell you 10 stories, that you may or may not believe, about what happened during "the wait", as I now like to think of it. But it would take too long. So I will just tell you that the best part was watching the grandmother behind me play with her granddaughter, and the worst part was when the woman next to me started fanning her armpits.

When 10:00 came, the crowd could no longer be contained. They stepped over the 5 foot teenager who was supposed to be keeping us in line and ripped off the plastic. I am 100% serious when I say that they started grabbing items off the stack and throwing them in the air. And I was in the kitchen area, so it was griddles and 3 pot slow cookers that were being thrown. The only reason that I knew I was in the right spot is because the $3 waffle iron that I had been waiting for was being thrown in the air into the crowd. I did not push my way forward to snatch one, first because I was terrified, and second because the sweet granny who had been standing behind me abandoned her crying granddaughter to rush forward for her bargain Tupperware.

I am thankful that I made it out alive. I did not get the waffle iron, and I had lost interest in the undershirts, underwear and slippers that I thought would be perfect stocking stuffers. Once I was free from the ridiculous crowd, I headed for the exit.

The rest of my experience was lovely. I left Wal-Mart and headed for Target, which was the exact opposite experience. Before I even made it into the store, I had a great time waiting in line when I ran into one of my oldest friends, who I haven't seen in years. For those of you who know her, Jalyn is doing great =-)

Target had police officers monitoring the line and they were passing out maps and energy bars. Then at midnight, they let people into the store in groups of 30, which was genius! There was no blockage at the door because in the 2-3 minutes in between letting groups in, the people inside the store had time to get a basket and head to whatever section they were headed for. They were also kicking people out if they ran through the store. It was awesome!!!

I bought a $30 Christmas tree, which I will blog about later, a $15 Santa cookie jar for my mother-in-law who collects Santa's, and a pair of $20 slippers that look like loafers, that were on sale for $12. I think I am about to go return the slippers. They are pretty great, and I bought them because a girl at work wears them and they totally look like moccasins, so I think I could get away with wearing them and they would feel good on my feet. But I realized that they will only look good with jeans, and I only get to wear jeans on Fridays, so I would rather take them back and buy a gift.

After Target I went to Walgreens to stock up on wrapping paper and that sort of thing. They have some fun toys there, but I bought those on my lunch break on Wednesday.

Then I went home and slept until 9:00. I was back in a store by 10:00. Friday, I did Best Buy, Half Price Books, Tuesday Morning and Big Lots. I'm very happy with what we bought. Most of our money went to Amazon and an awesome website that I found and ordered several gifts from. We need to grocery shop before we buy anything else.

Today we put up our tree. It looks so good! I will post a picture when I blog about the tree. It's special =-) And the decorating was even better because Jeff was here! I'm so happy we got to see him while he was in town!

I hope everyone had a splendid holiday. This is my favorite time of year =-) I hope that I make the most of it this year.

Happy Holiday!

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