-Black Friday. This is the day after we spend time with our families being thankful for everything and everyone in our lives. The day we are also probably enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, onions, stuffing, yam & marshmallow, pumpkins, cranberries, and beverages.
That right there is the first part I find disturbing. On Thanksgiving Day, life is civilized; people are enjoying other people's company. But when the big hand on the clock strikes midnight, all bets are off, and the pushing, shoving, and uncivilized greedy behavior begins.
The line that was wrapped around the store up until midnight has slithered into the store like a snake, and then exploded in all directions. We now have folks rushing to fill up their carts before the next person. I've been elbowed and shoved out of the way at an electronics retailer before during an midnight door-buster sale, and after that, I decided to take a good hard look at why I was there in the first place.
Why Call it Black Friday?
The whole reason the day after Thanksgiving is called 'Black Friday', is because it's the day that retailers hope to get their profits up out of the red, and into the black on their accounting books. (I used to think it had something to do with everyone's disposition while they shopped, who knew right?).
Are the Black Friday Deals Really 'Deals'?
I started looking, I mean really looking, at what retailers were trying to market as a 'once a year' deal that I should wait outside their store for. I read the small print, jotted down model numbers for things that appeared to be a great deal, and then hit the Internet to do some research on the product. What I started finding out was often the product being hyped as a great deal, often matched in many ways a more successful, fully featured product. So often you think you would be getting this awesome product that you've heard so much about, but then when you do a comparison of the actual technical specifications, what you got was probably appropriately priced, Black Friday or not.
When I got elbowed and shoved around at a midnight door-buster Black Friday sale years ago, I was there intending to buy a new video card for my rig. A bunch of us went actually, all for mostly the same stuff. Waiting in the line was not fun. It was seriously cold. Then when the door opened, a fight nearly broke out as a bunch of late arrivals tried, and successfully rushed the door, beating everyone waiting in line into the store. Store personnel couldn't do anything about it but get out of the way as the herd pressed into the store.
By the time I got to the shelf where the video card was supposed to be, it was wiped out. None left. The store personnel offered me a rain check for the item. Wait, what the heck? Why did I just wait outside in the freezing cold for a product only to find out that they could actually give me a rain check? It was ridiculous. And yes, I've used that word a few times in other articles. (Insert shameless plug for this one and this one).
I never did use that rain check. I can't remember if it was because the situation was just annoying, and the rain check reminded me of it, or that I realized that the type of product I wanted to buy goes obsolete about every 3-6 months anyway.
What I Do Now on Black Friday
Shop online. Eat leftovers. Stay off the roads.
Black Friday can be pretty crazy. It’s gotten better over the years, but if there is ever a chance of getting into a wreck, wasting time in lines, and enduring hour long waits for lunch while you’re out and about, it’s on Black Friday.
Shop online and you'll avoid the crowds and still score good deals. Just remember to research the big ticket items before buying so you don't fall victim to a 'bait & switch', and end up with a low-end version of what you really wanted. Also know that with a lot of products, Black Friday is the day they try to get rid of all of last year’s models, and make way for the new stuff to be stocked so they can sell it in time for Christmas. That's probably just good business tactics, but make sure you are aware of what you’re buying.
If you are going to be going out and shopping in stores, check out this article by fellow InfoBarrel writer Amerowolf.