I have never been shopping on a Black Friday, what used to be *the* shopping day. I always worked in hospitality, retail or just had a boss that was not cool with the day after Turkey Day being a freebie. Working in retail, you see people at their absolute worst. In fact, I dreaded the day after Christmas more. People would return items without a receipt, purchased in October, and by December it is worth less than half, after numerous markdowns. I have had people chuck things at my head.
My first job, at Marc's, resulted in a woman throwing 25 dog bones at me, pelting me as I ran away because they were 25 for $1.00, not 25 for .99 as she claimed. I also had a can of olives chucked at me over a few pennies. There is some internal switch that flips in people, transforming them into drooling meanies for a deal.
I'm not here to be all judgey pants if shopping on Thanksgiving or at 3 am the day after is right or wrong. I wish the holidays weren't shoved down our throats earlier every year, though. At this rate, the Christmas Aisle will be popping up somewhere around Memorial Day. I wish it weren't such a raw deal to work on the holiday, but for some folks, it is their only option. That, friends, is an entirely separate bloggity blog post.
Last night, I dragged my dad out to the Wal-Mart to snag one of those $98 TVs for me. I actually need a new tv and I will tell you now, never, ever, ever again will I do that.
|Wal-Mart sale flyer with my tv.|
Somewhere in my head, I thought it would be easy going. Wal-Mart has this new 1-hour in stock guarantee for some items. If you are there within the hour time period, you get a tv. I imagined Oprah's voice, "YOU GET A TV AND YOU GET A TV AND YOU GET A TV" bellowing over the loud speakers.
The sale for my tv was 6-7 and I thought if we were in line by 5, we would be cool. The parking lot wasn't any more crowded on any given afternoon, so I was smug in my plan. My pop and I walked through the doors and grabbed a map and started down the main aisle, on the tv hunt. We were in the store no less than three minutes when we heard a man screaming behind us, equipment belt jangling, "MAKE A HOLE MAKE A HOLE PEOPLE!"
My dad gave me that fatherly look of "What have you gotten me in to" as we continued down the aisle. Turns out some guy had his mitts on an item not yet for sale and wouldn't let it go. I'm no security expert, but screaming "MAKE A HOLE" at people isn't the best way to get them to move. I would have shouted "MOVE."
By the time we made it to the tvs, all of the wristbands were long gone (meaning no tv for take-home) and we were standing in line for an hour for a purchase voucher.
The challenge of shopping on Turkey Day is that some people dipped into a whole lotta Wild Turkey with their bird. The man in front of us was bleary eyed and swaying while WHISPERING instructions to his wife to, "knock people the F@!# out" if they got in her way.
A little after 6 pm, we received our coupon (you paid for the tv and then had to register online) and tried to make our way to the exit. Shoppers were in full pounce mode around piles of certain items in the middle of aisles, waiting for the item to go on sale. I am going to say that conservatively, Wal-Mart sold 500 tvs. The 100 in-stock were long gone by the time we got through the line and there were hundred of people behind us.
I saw several wide-eyed Wal-Mart management types frantically barking into walkie talkies and the faces of startled employees as they tried to manage the line.
On our way out, we waited in line for some of the $1.96 movies (I snagged the Batman films and Fight Club), heard horror stories of past years from a woman with giant fluffy stuffed animals in her cart. She made me feel them as she told us how she took all of this character and her motto of screw everyone else. My dad gave me the look again, solidifying the notion that he was never doing this again. People were grabbing handfuls of movies as they moved through the line, only to dump them through out the store. I guess no one told him that this wasn't Supermarket Sweep.
As we exited the movie pen (people were led through single-file in a maze of display cases), there was screaming and shouting as shoppers started to tear into the $75 tvs an hour early. Frantically, a worker tried to take them all back, yelling at the shoppers trying to take them. Shoppers in turn yelled at her because someone else did it and it wasn't their fault because it wasn't fair.
The checkout took close to an hour with only a couple registers able to take the 1-hour guarantees. For all the people in the store, they didn't have enough registers open, which I find mind boggling.
After we got home, it took another hour to register the vouchers online and I am the proud owner of some $98 tv. Somewhere between December 14-24 it will be in store for me to pick up.
Did you do any Thanksgiving shopping?