Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Black Friday

I grew up in the middle of Phoenix in a low income family with 6 kids.  My mom made the majority of our Christmas presents and only bought a few.  I don't think my parents ever hit Black Friday sales, and if they did then I don't remember them talking about it.  Needless to say, I grew up not knowing what Black Friday was.
  As an early adult I worked jobs where I didn't really encounter such sales (or maybe I just don't remember).  Finally, in my early 20s, I got a job with Sears working in their parts and service department.  My first store was not attached to a retail store, and we didn't offer anything special, so I again had no contact with Black Friday.  Then I transferred to a store that was behind a retail store.  The other employees got so excited over the big sales going on in the store.  I stayed and manned the counter while they went and shopped.  I couldn't care less what these big sales were because I could barely afford my food and rent.  Big, expensive gifts were out of the question.
   After I married we moved overseas and I became really good at shopping online.  We came back stateside and a friend insisted that I go and do these sales with her.  So we got out the ads, made our lists, prioritized our stops, and got up at the crack of dawn.  I think I remember leaving at like 4am or some ridiculous hour.  I don't remember getting home until about noon, we only got a portion of what we went after, and I was completely exhausted.  I was quite content to pass on that Black Friday thing.
   Fast forward a few years.  We're overseas again and stores are putting Black Friday deals online! Now this is something I can go for.  I can stay up late (which the night owl in me loved), I didn't have to fight the crowds (just slow servers), and I could shop in my pajamas without finding my picture on the people of Walmart website later.  And to top it all off, they then ship my items to me, in a box that my kids can't see through, and I don't have to worry about them seeing through the bags as I hide them.  I was in heaven.  I happily soaked up the Black Friday sales from the comfort of my desk for many years.
   Then a few years ago Black Friday moved to Thursday night (Thanksgiving) at midnight.  I was a little bit unsure at first, but we figured we could have thanksgiving day with the family, take our afternoon/evening naps, visit some more, put the kids down for bed time, and then we could go shopping.  Again, the night owl in me was jumping for joy.  I could get my shopping done while my kids were asleep.  I still don't like the crowds in the stores, but if there's something good enough, then it might be worth the trip.  Then the sales started getting earlier.  First 10:00pm, then 8:00pm.
   This year I started seeing friends post on Facebook that they were pledging not to shop on Thanksgiving.  I have to admit that part of me was like, "that just means more for the rest of us!"  This week I did some research to start my shopping list.  I discovered that stores are starting sales much earlier on Thanksgiving day.  There are even stores that are starting at the crack of dawn on Thursday and staying open the entire day.
    What the what?  What happened to everybody is closed on Thanksgiving?  I remember when we would get up to start the feast and discover that we forgot to buy corn, or cranberry sauce, or something like that.  We would have to remember which two stores in town were going to open for a few hours that morning, and then pray that they were still open when you get there.  If they weren't open? Well then you just did without.  This is a holiday when we get together with our families, we get to remember everything that we have and all that we are thankful for.  This is not supposed to be a day when everybody is either working or shopping.  The stores are supposed to be a ghost town so that families can be together.  What's next? Boxing Day sales on Christmas Day? The return lines lining up around the corner on Christmas night?
   So this is where I stand.  The late night sales are ok, but no earlier than 10pm or midnight.  That gives everybody a chance to spend time with family, get a nice nap, put the kids to bed, and then employees can go to work as others line up outside.  Single parents get to teach their kids traditions before they put them to bed and head to work.  There's no reason to be open before the kids go to bed. I now understand why my friends want to boycott the Thanksgiving Black Thursday sales.  Heck, maybe I'll just go back to my slow servers and my online shopping this year.

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