Black Friday Fever

The year before last, Peter and I did something we’d never done before and went after the post-Thanksgiving sales door buster specials. It’s kind of crazy, goofy fun if you can find a bargain to score. Peter was probably right in describing it as the same sort of experience as going to an all-night science fiction movie marathon, which is also something we once did.

We eagerly got the Thanksgiving day newspaper and scoured the ads. But to our mutual surprise, there was nothing we really wanted, at least not enough to warrant getting up at 5 am. I did have a present in mind for Peter, however, and it was available at Sports Authority, which was giving the first 100 people that entered its doors at the 5:30 am opening time a coupon randomly worth between $10 and $100 for any in-stock merchandise bought that day. I didn’t think Peter’s potential gift would be sold out quickly, but if I was going to go to Sports Authority, I figured I might as well go at 5 am and get $10 for doing so.

Peter, in the meantime, had spotted two computer games at a good price at Best Buy, though it wouldn’t be worth getting up at 4 am just for them. I told him when I was done with Sports Authority, it wouldn’t be a bother to stop by Best Buy afterwards.

Well, Sports Authority was great. I arrived 15 minutes before the doors were to open, and with only about 50 people in line, I was guaranteed to get the $10 coupon I ended up getting. I was almost happy to get the $10 instead of the $100. In fact, I’d lain awake worrying what else I would get if I ended up with such a massive coupon, because a) I couldn’t let that value go to waste, and b) the gift I had in mind cost less than $100. I grabbed the gift, had no line to wait in at the cash register, and before 6 am, I was in Best Buy.

One of the best things of hanging out in line with the other crazed shoppers is getting the reports of what the shopping experience looks like in other places. One woman in the Sports Authority line had bailed on Kohl’s because of its long lines. The young men in front of me told me people had been set up in tents in front of Best Buy at 2 pm on Thursday.

Against hard-core shoppers like that, I didn’t have high expectations of still finding Peter’s games at Best Buy a whole hour after the store had opened. But as with my usual experience, Best Buy had a game plan in place that made the experience as easy as it could possibly be. I was delighted to find one game on the shelves, where it should be, and I found an associate to ask about the other. He had seen one left behind on a counter, and I followed him through the horde of shoppers whereupon he quickly handed it to me. That great success was followed by an hour-plus wait in line, but it was just another opportunity to find out my fellow shoppers’ experiences.

Circuit City, like last year, was a complete nightmare for all. CompUSA is closed, so I thought the midnight start was history, but then I found out the Gilroy Outlets had opened at midnight–and the couple standing behind me in line had started their shopping then. Sure, the deals were good: J. Crew and Ralph Lauren, at the least, were 50% off everything and the leather goods store was 60% off. But still, it seemed excessive.

I came home tired (though not as tired as those who’d been shopping all night), and Peter bought me my Christmas gift (thanks to ultra low fares): a trip to Germany in February. I randomly picked dates within the range, and only found out after the tickets had been bought, that I’ll be gone during Wonder Con. Oh, well, I guess I can trade castles for comics for at least one year.

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