A Trip to the Zoo: My Black Friday Experience

It’s commercialism at its finest. Where it seems anything and everything you could be interested is discounted. An event for people who show no evidence of patience throughout the year gather together to wait in lines outside of stores for hours on end. Yet every year, myself and thousands of others keep coming back, telling themselves that the wait is worth get items on sale that seemingly never do. Here is my running diary of my third Black Friday experience.

Thanksgiving, 5:30 p.m. – Having just finished an early Thanksgiving dinner, my friend Ryan Chait and I debate where to go first, Target, Wal-Mart, or Toys ‘R Us. After viewing all the stores sales and what time they open, we decide to go to Wal-Mart. Rummaging through the ads, I find it mildly disturbing that Black Friday seemingly continually gets pushed back each year, as most stores opened at midnight last year and now many stores start just hours after Thanksgiving dinner. Ryan was interested in getting Assassin Creed III on sale, and with the other two opening at 8 and Target opening at 9.

6:32 p.m.- We arrive at Wal-Mart. Parking lot is about three quarters full, the local police have already shown up to maintain order for the 8 p.m. sale. We assume that there is going to be a huge line, but after working inside, to our surprise, there is none. Making our way to the electronics, we overhear the electronics manager saying that the video games are already marked down for the 8 p.m. sale. We take full advantage of this, as Ryan buys the game and we are in and out of Wal-Mart in less than ten minutes.

6:48 p.m. – Well, we found lightning doesn’t strike twice. Our second stop, Toys ‘R Us, had already had of line of what looks like 100 people in front of us. They had better have the half-price iHome I came for in stock.

7:10 p.m. – The manager comes out, and lets all of us in line how this is all going to work out when the store opens. Instead of mobbing the store and people getting trampled like in years past, we are going to move in an orderly fashion, starting with fifty people. As people come out of the store, the same people get to come in. This would turn later turn out to be a great idea.

8:15 p.m. – After the store opens at 8 and we finally get in, they have blocked off parts of the stores so you have to walk all the around the store in order to exit. Marketing appears to have no bounds. We make our way to the electronics section; the iHome is in stock (whew!).

8:43 p.m.-Our third stop is Target, and it is by far a much longer line. The nine p.m. opening means we are one of the very last people to get in line, but I was stunned. The line legitimately wrapped all the way around the front of the store and almost to the end of the side parking lot. Once again, they were letting an initial wave of people in and then letting those in line trickle in. It looks like it’s going to be a while.

9:17 p.m. – Were in! The lines move quickly, we saw the first person come out of the store barely five minutes after the opening with a 50 inch Westinghouse HDTV. He was awarded with a big round of applause and a few cheers. Ryan’s family had joined in our adventures, and scanning the premises, it seems like every deal Target had in their ads was well stocked. Set up in the same walking format around the store as Toys ‘R Us, they were bins of TV’s everywhere, all the sales marked and well stocked. Ryan’s family scatters in all directions while I’m walking around.

10:15 p.m.- We all meet up again, his family having waited through to get the latest iPod Touch, a Keurig coffeemaker, and one of the aforementioned 32’’ TVs I was talking about. Making our way to the front of the store, we arrive at where the checkout line starts.

10:32 p.m. – Wow, did not realize how long the lines would be. We are weaving in and out of the aisles in the hair care department, guided by arrows. This looks like it is going to be awhile.

11:05 p.m. – Finally, after Ryan couldn’t help but touch everything in each aisle and play with it, we arrive at checkout and everything is paid for. While his family has had enough, Ryan and I get to talking and decide on one last stop: the midnight opening of the mall.

11:41 p.m. – While there are no major lines to enter the mall, there are people crowding the front doors of stores everywhere. After spending some time in FYE and walking through the mall, we both decided that the Victoria’s Secret store easily had the biggest line.

Midnight, Black Friday– All stores in the mall are opened, and we hear the Victoria’s Secret store on the floor above cheer loudly. Word on the street was that the celebration was over $25 hoodies and $20 yoga pants. Ryan is looking for a gift for his friend JC in Hot Topic, and I join him because $10 t-shirt sales are hard to pass up.

12:55 a.m. – We’ve been to Hot Topic, GameStop, and a sports memorabilia store. Pretty much out of gas and running on fumes, we see a store that I had never been in before: the Microsoft Store. Similar to the Apple Store in terms of layout with computers on table in the middle of the store and programs around the walls on the outside, I blow it off and tell him we should go. He disagrees, and we compromise and give it a brief look.

1:00 a.m. – Well that was a pleasant surprise! Having completely forgot that Microsoft also makes Xbox 360 games, I get to the back corner of the store and see an awesome deal:  half-dozen new $60 releases on sale for $25. I pick up a copy of Assassin’s Creed III for $25, much to Ryan’s displeasure after he bought it for $40 at Wal-Mart barely five hours ago. Pretty awesome feeling, can’t beat the feeling of a little retail therapy.

1:16 a.m. – We arrive back home, our shopping done and exhausting experience finished. Pretty action packed day on what is normal a relaxed holiday. Can’t wait for next year though!

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