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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tales of "The Day After Thanksgiving"

Have I mentioned that I love a good deal? In all honestly, it's not about the 'brand' or having 'stuff', but rather the idea that I was a good steward with my money! Truly, I am not a craven materialist and encourage my children not to desire 'things' or even shopping. I must say, however, that the day after Thanksgiving, aka: "Black Friday", happens to be one of my most favorite days out of the year. It must be the camaraderie with all of the other adrenaline junkies of the world that want to find that 'diamond in the rough' and find it on sale for $.99.

Last year I woke up at 3am Friday morning because I couldn't sleep. (Should have had one last dose of turkey to get all that good triptophene flowing before bed). I knew that our local Meijer superstore was starting their advertised prices at 6am. So, why not head out a little early? It's a 24 hour store... I can just fill the cart with the deals, do our grocery shopping for the week and get a little alone time in the darkness and quiet of night. I'll wait around until "6am" hits and then head over to the checkout line.

HA! I arrived to a scene that will live in infamy. The entire back section of the store was roped off as off duty cart boys and sales associates held "guard duty". Every aisle from the front of the store to the back was beginning to fill with militant shoppers...ready for battle. People carried lawn chairs, coupons, and even a few with a thermos filled with piping hot coffee. These shoppers were prepared! I realized a battle plan was needed and began to quickly move to action.

I found a housewares aisle that nobody seemed interested to set up base in. I was surrounded by window treatments, chair covers, and folding chairs. Ah! Folding chairs! Perfect... I took a seat bellied up to the rope at the end of the aisle and waited. Oh, the excitement was beginning! I leaned deeper to see what was around 'my' aisle. I began to make mental notes of those other 'game face' know the ones I'm talking about...the lady decked out with running shoes and speedo shorts, the gentlemen with a cane (aka: weapon), or the innocent looking grandma with 27 grandchildren and an "agenda"!

About ten minutes later another lady came into my aisle. Friend or foe? As it would turn out, a wonderful friend! We began laughing together at our feeble attempts slip away while the kids were sleeping for some alone time. We started scheming together about techniques and strategies. She gave me her list and I gave her mine. She would head one way and I would head another. We programmed each other's cell numbers into our phones and planned to meet at the underwear aisle. (We guessed this might be a safe zone...not too many 'intimate' deals this time of year...not any worth getting trampled over anyway)

Our aisle quickly filled to thirty plus people. The manager of a local breakfast joint came by and handed us coupons for free sandwiches later that morning. We were super excited! The countdown began and the nerves grew in anticipation. I felt like a purebred about to be let out of the starting gates. "5, 4, 3, 2, 1"! And the ropes dropped. And everybody dashed into the aisles. And about ten seconds later we all stopped because we were completely stuck. Call it gridlock if you will. Imagine an area about 300 feet in length, but only 12 feet in width suddenly filled with over 1000 crazy customers...with carts. Not good... a logistics nightmare to be more exact. So what to do? I started laughing hysterically, frankly because there was nothing else to do...and nowhere else to go.

**Allow me to take a 'sidebar' for all of you clausterphobics out there. BEWARE of Black Friday! If you are a diehard shopper and must risk it...prepare yourself! My mother, for instance, would have most likely had a panic attack at this point. She thinks that my father and I have lost our minds to get up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) to fight the crowds and the traffic for a deal. Her time is much better spent in mid May when nobody has gift giving on their minds yet. (love you mommy!)** Okay, back to the story...

Most of the customers were all having fun and started working together to help eachother out. "You want Polly Pocket in Aisle 7? Hey! The lady in the red coat needs a Polly!" "How many drills?" "Here, pass that basketball to the little boy three down on your left". I felt like Pollyanna. We were all working together...for the most part.

Then entered, "The Mama". She was in no mood to be helpful and had greed on her mind. She was angry that nobody was moving and perhaps was a little overwhelmed. She started ramming her cart into people and yelling. She shoved an employee on the ground and about ran over a little kid. People began to 'boo' her conduct as we helped up the poor little lady she'd knocked over. We parted the waters to let her through. Completely sad, but unfortunately how some see the giving and gifting of Christmas.

Slowly, but surely we maneuvered our way from the 'deal aisle' to 'panty lane'. I met up with my new found 'battle buddy' and we exchanged our items that we had found for each other and made our way to the checkout lanes. We enjoyed eachothers company and talked throughout the day on our phones.

I'm looking forward to this Friday as well. My dear friend, Andi, is going to be joining me for her very first time of TDAT sales. Friendship and discount...what could be more fun?!


Anonymous said...

OH MY!! And you're planning your trip for this year? You want to go back?

...Just kidding.

Tracy said...

I am so jealous! I love Black Friday shopping...but, up here...our little local "mom and pop" store NEVER opens before 8am and who needs to run Black Friday sales when you are the only joint in town?! I am over an hour from any of the fun stuff. HOWEVER....(this is the coolest)...last year I discovered you can Black Friday shop...ON LINE!!! Now, not every store does it and you don't get all the same stuff. But. Good enough! I got up at 5am. Had my coffee, my warm fleece, and my list...(I actually had the items I wanted saved in my Wal-Mart cart). Bought 'em. Then. Wal-Mart's sight crashed and was down the rest of the morning. I felt bad for all the other shoppers who live in the middle of no where excited that they too could participate in the Black Friday shopping. Sounds like yours is slightly more fun! Hope you have a ball with your new friend!

Leah in Iowa said...

I don't think you could pay me enough to shop on that day! I remember a few years ago when we were in Des Moines... I had left Gary at the hotel pool with the kids and drove myself over to the Mall, where I perused the parking lot for 25 minutes. Never did find a spot, so I left. =) But I'd certainly be willing to get up early for some online shopping! Great idea, Tracy!