Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday 2011 Adventures

Shopping, it is an occurrence that happens on a regular basis as people obtain the necessities and the luxuries in life. Once a year, an occasion transforms from a mechanical, almost routine event into something unique, it is called Black Friday. On this day, stores have loss leaders that sell under the retail price with the hopes that they can attract huge crowds of shoppers. This term has been popularized because it is when many retailers would move from the “red” where the lose money to the “black” where revenue finally exceeds cost in financial statements. For the longest time, I have not participated in this annual excursion due to a lack of interest, or because I didn’t feel the need to whether long periods of waiting for little reward. Due to a perfect storm of a family conversation with my cousin, I decided to try my hand at Black Friday to say that I have done it. Here are my thoughts on this day.

The line was long!!!
On Thanksgiving night, my family decided to have our Thanksgiving meal early because my younger brother and my mom had work that night. I decide to leave to Best Buy at around 8:00pm. As I hit my local Best Buy, I saw that there was a line on the left corner, but the line was not terribly long, so I got some snapshots of the line. In front of me were a wheelchair-bound young Hispanic man, his girlfriend, and his brother. The group in front of me were very charming, with their unique motivations. Before even having the chance to really introduce myself, the man in the wheelchair tells me that he just wants a nice flat-screen high definition television. He reasoned that he had been playing on a tiny non-high definition TV and that it is hurting his eyes. I wished him the best of luck in getting that TV. As we got lost in conversation, the line got longer and longer.

My cousin was supposed to arrive later with her boyfriend, they headed off to a store that rhymes with “Einhart” and decided to try their hand at videogame deals. When he arrived close to 11pm, he gave a depressing recollection of events that showcased the dark side of this event. When he headed to “Einhart” he initially waited in line outside, but due to this store being 24 hours, the line was dispersed and people started wondering around the store. Then at the count of 10am, some pallets where unloaded with the goods and it was total chaos. My cousin was apparently trampled over by some frenzied buyers as they tried to score discounted video games. Her boyfriend recalled how people just grabbed stacks of games and started trading with other people. After the insanity, they decided to head to my direction in Best Buy, dejected, irritated, with some wounds of the shopping war.

You see that bag? That is where
my spot is in line.
As the time neared midnight, I decided to walk around and take some final snapshots. The line almost wrapped around the store and the Office Max next to it. I headed back to my position in line, which was about number 75. As I waited, Best Buy employees started walking out and handing these numbered receipts of the items. The guy ahead of me was able to get a receipt for an inexpensive large high-definition TV. We preceded to high five each other for his great luck. When midnight came along the line moved slowly to the store. The guards let in 20 people at a time to prevent trampling and all out disaster. As I got in the store I decided to grab a copy of Uncharted 3 and proceeded to meet my cousin. The store got packed and we decided to score some nice hard drives. The store got so crowded that the temperature actually got warm. As we proceeded to the incredibly long line, I was amazed at just how orderly the entire event was.

On the news, Black Friday is associated with all the madness, people being unruly just for silly discounts. My experience that night was the complete opposite of what the popular media seems to portray. The people in line were affable and so much fun to talk to. When I got in the store, people zipped from one location to another, but I saw many acts of kindness as people helped each other. I saw an older Chinese woman who was buying a PlayStation 3, and as she was buying the PlayStation 3 she was asking around for good games. As I saw her walk around, I see people helping her, suggesting interesting games that her daughter may like. Even as I grabbed the last hard drives on sale, people who came after just smiled and said “you beat me to it, have a great Christmas.” As busy as it was, people were friendly and helpful to each other.

That is the lesson I came away with from Black Friday, as insane as it is there were many great moments among the people I was with. The experience of waiting in line, while relating to strangers was a great experience. There was a level of camaraderie with the people there because we were all there for the deals and for the Black Friday experience. It was such an interesting experience that I will probably make it an annual tradition of sorts, next time I will actually read the catalog to find the heavily discounted items.


Kat said...

Have you seen the news about a woman who pepper sprayed people just for video games? The sad part is that it took place in a store in a nice neighborhood near my place.

I like stores that have stricter rules, like letting X people in at a time. The outlet that we went to had a line because they only let a certain number of people in at a time... then they'd restock the shelves when they run out. It's pretty smart. I guess some stores just don't learn from past mistakes. There were deaths at "Einhart" in the past due to people getting trampled on at the entrance alone. Then again, crazy people are at fault.

KrisZ said...

Yes, I saw it. She happened to be the same store that my cousin got trampled in (rhymes with "einhart"). In contrast, my experiences in Best Buy was very good. I was high-fiving random people and giving advice on buying the best TV and video games. It was pretty awesome to say the least.