It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of Black Friday. I have my reasons- the biggest being that it turns the most sane folks into consumer crazies, willing to do anything and everything to get that last xbox 360. As a trained shopper, I try to avoid events like these, unless I’m able to finagle a way to get in early (this is where being friends with sales peeps comes in handy). So, I hadn’t really been to a Black Friday store opening (the idea of waiting outside in a line at 2am doesn’t appeal to me at all), but this year I received an invite to cover the Black Friday opening of a Best Buy store and at the urging of Tobias, I took up the invitation.
Some key observations:
1. People really do get up early. I met one gentleman who had waited in line since 4am Thanksgiving morning and another who waited since 7am Thanksgiving morning- both taking short breaks to have thanksgiving dinner with their families. Both were online for the $500 Gateway laptops and $200 emachine desktops (with printer AND LCD monitor).
2. Get there early or forget about it. This observation piggy backs on #1. If you’re not there by at least 2am the morning of the opening, then it’s best to just stay at home. By 4am, the line was completely wrapped around the store.
3. It’s easy to get caught up. Tobias and my brother-in-law (my sister-in-law, a newspaper editor, flaked out) came to cover it for See Jack Shop and they found themselves fighting the urge to purchase things they didn’t need and I suspect a lot of shoppers make this mistake- sort of like “I don’t want, but I don’t want you to have it” type of situation.
4. The police are everywhere. I was amazed at the number of police officers on the scene at Best Buy compared with other area stores like Circuit City and Target. I counted five police cars and about 7 police officers around the store. I asked Serge, the store manager about the large presence of police and he stated that it help keep everything in order. Even though everyone had a “ticket” which gave them their place in line for things like the laptop, there was a testy moment inside when it appeared that someone had purchased more than the personal limit.
5. It’s about the “thrill of the deal”. I wondered why people didn’t just shop online, since many of the stores (including Best Buy) offered several of the same deals on their sites. Apparently, people still like the idea of actually handling items over the idea of convenience. This surprised me, because shopping online can be cheaper (with special coupons and no tax), than in store. It’s definitely less stressful than what I saw.
So is Black Friday worth it? Hmmmm… if you’re looking for deals on electronics or toys and you must have it before the holidays, sure. On items like clothing, if the store offers the same deals online- skip the early morning and shop in your pjs.