Many stores now leak Black Friday shopping hours onto the Thanksgiving holiday. I am not a Black Friday fanatic; I have never camped at a store overnight. If I shop off-line that day, it is in the afternoon, when good-enough sales still linger, and crazy-shoppers do not. I am not sure why I decided to venture out on Thanksgiving last year, but it remains the most unsuccessful shopping trip of my life.
After Thanksgiving clean-up, I donned my more comfortable shoes and headed to Wal-Mart for the early “Black Friday” sale. I found parking after an anticipated hour, and entered the store through a police-detailed rope-maze. The scene was daunting, not holiday. I hoped to snag a deal on my son’s first bike, a cherry-red Huffy! But it didn’t take long to realize this trip would end with lessons rather than physical gifts.
One kind, retreating shopper offered her carriage. Store aisles were narrowed by plank palates stacked with merchandise. I abandoned my cart after only 100 feet into the buzzing shopper-current. They were not abundant, but unless shopping for many small items, or heavy purchases, carriages were not practical for movement. Savvy-shoppers brought canvas grocery-bags from home.
Store department organization was un-familiar. Flash-deal areas were scattered. I wished I had printed a store map to find my way around. Experienced shoppers tag-teamed in pairs. One cohort stood in the two-hour check-out line, while the other gathered merchandise.
I found the empty bike palates abutting a furniture display, and learned that only ten bikes were stocked for the sale. I navigated back toward the exit, picking up superfluous gifts just to avoid the pang of defeat. Smaller items like movies, games, and seasonal novelties were more abundant. If I had planned ahead with a list of smaller gifts I needed, my trip may have been more successful.
After five hours, I checked out. By that time, I’d completely forgotten it was still Thanksgiving. The holiday’s magic had dwindled as I witnessed a near fist-fight over toys, again when I saw a customer dangerously parkour over scavenged display palate stacks, and further each time a customer derided an employee-unthankful for the workers’ holiday sacrifice. I thanked my cashier for her help and patience, and left, hoping to reclaim some of my holiday-spirit with family, music, and cocoa, the way Thanksgiving night should be observed.