The charge of the bargain brigade
One man's eyewitness account of Black Friday Eve shopping
As one of the brave or stupid (you make the call) Carbon County souls who dared trek out Black Friday Eve, I have to say it was an experience I will never forget. Does that mean it was a positive experience? I can't quite decide but I do have to say, the event painted a picture of humanity which I will not soon forget.
You see, I love Christmas for many reasons and this I was out to see if a person can love Christmas and Black Friday with the same heart.
I arrived at the Price area Wal-Mart at approximately 9:20 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, because Black Friday spilled into Thursday's once sacred family event. I have to say I felt some guilt about this as I traveled from East Carbon toward Wal-Mart. However, upon reaching a spot where I could view the store's parking lot, I was relieved to find I was far from the only one. Cars crowded the massive parking lot as deal seekers parked and marched toward the beginning of pre-Christmas shopping.
Family, friends and countrymen gathered in groups small and large seeking the best possible deal on a Playstation, an X-Box Kinects Bundle, even Paula Dean Cookware. It was all up for grabs starting at 10 p.m.
You see, in 2011, marketing geniuses across the world decided that there was just too much commerce being lost by packing everyone in at 4 a.m. Friday morning. To relieve this massive pressure cooker and allow for the maximum possible shopping experience, Black Friday has become Black Thursday evening through Friday into Cyber Monday. Wal-Mart, along with a bevy of other chain retailers, decided to let their customers in out of the cold to peruse their wares "leisurely" with massive sales popping off at 10 p.m., 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. Because as any good shopper knows, three stampedes trump one any day.
As my tactical group made its way to the store front, we recited our battle plan and steadied ourselves in the face of the most dedicated group of consumers I had ever laid eyes upon. Upon entering the battlefield, we were greeted with a legion surveying maps which Wal-Mart had provided.
Please understand that while I am attempting a satirical narrative style here, there was a definite feeling in the air of desperation and vital need that I would never have associated with buying children's toys.
For the 10 p.m. sale, there were pallets of merchandise arranged in the middle of the store's lengthy isles. The goods could be seen and their location plotted. However, no one was to touch the goods until 10 p.m. This thin attempt at organization held on until approximately 9:55 p.m. by my watch, at which time all hell broke loose.
I was positioned by a nicely priced pallet of children's art supplies striking bargains with fellow shoppers when I began to notice the cellophane which wrapped the goods began popping into the air 50 feet down the isle. As the wrapping was shredded, shoppers fell upon the stuffed bears, DVDs, Blue Rays and custom foam mattress toppers like an infantry charge. The breach had been opened.
I understand that the horrors of war are probably best left on the battlefield, however I feel a responsibility to report accurately what I witnessed after the bird was roasted. Grown women heaved boxes of Paula Dean Cookware with superhuman strength as young men pulled arm fulls of DVDs and video games into their carts so that they could rendezvous with their pack and sift through the hunt's bounty in some vacant corner. At one point I witnessed a man screaming at his wife, "How many Rios did you get? What about Bridesmaids? What do you mean you didn't get any? Get back over there!"
The worst part of this whole situation is that I don't get to act all high and mighty you see, I participated until the end. I am consumer, hear me roar. I sprinted through the sea of humanity searching for the items on my list, I pounced like a jungle cat when I located a king size mattress topper deserted by a fellow shopper who must have had his fill. Oh yes, I held tightly to my educational telescope when I realized I just might have the last one anybody was going to buy in Price on Thursday night. There is no doubt, I was in it to win it.