Confessions of a Black Friday Shopper

November 26, 2013

Look, I’ll admit it. I love Black Friday shopping. Sure the deals are great, but what I really dig is the rush (that probably tells you more about my personality than you needed to know). Frankly, I don’t even like to shop, but put it in the context of Mission Impossible, and I’m in. I’m SO in. Here’s a look into a few of my favorite Black Friday adventures.

Episode 1: Walmart

Look, I don’t go to Walmart. Not on a good day, not on a slow day, not at 3AM on weekday. I pretty much detest everything about Walmart and in my own personal protest, I don’t go. Unless, you know, I want something really cheap or Target is closed.

The fun thing about my hometown in South Dakota is that there is ONE Walmart. Single. Uno. First and Last. Because it’s a 24-hour store, people didn’t wait outside for Black Friday deals this particular year. They went inside and paced like neurotic cattle. The store placed giant pallets of product wrapped in black plastic all over the store and numbered each of them. A shopper would need to obtain a map (via piracy or the unoccupied Customer Service desk) and attempt to find their desired product.

I was there with some family members on the hunt for mini DVD players. We found the numbered plastic tower and waited. Two hours to go, we waited. One hour to go. Paranoia set in. Could we peel the plastic and ensure we were at the right hidden temple? No, they were guarded by monstrous trolls wearing blue and khaki.

Should we scout other areas to make sure we weren’t stalking this tower in vain? After all, DVD players in the toddler area didn’t make sense, but this was Black Friday. Nothing made sense. So we waited. As 5AM crept closer, the swarms hovered. A timer sounded throughout the store and the trolls slashed the plastic with force and speed.

WHAT’S THIS? A CHILD’S TOY? The towers were miss-numbered by some fool (or by a genius who knew what turmoil this would cause). Uncontrolled and uninhibited panic ensued. Frantically, we disbursed in search of the DVD players.

There! Over there! I ran like I’d never run before. In between carts and shoppers, like Mario I dove and charged and literally leaped into the center of the swarm. I was standing on the pallet with only a few boxes left. I looked into the crowd and found my aunt, nearly being swallowed alive by the force of shoppers, who were also realizing their prize was under my feet.

There was no way for me to grab the four we needed and get out alive, so I did what I anyone would do. I began throwing DVD players over the heads of the swarm to my aunt. We were the John Elway/Ed McCaffrey of Walmart. Each pass executed with precision and received like a cradled baby. With a great feeling of accomplishment, the crowd began to cheer and parted ways for my departure – ok, really, I had to wriggle my way out of that mass of unsanitary hands and feral faces, but we got ice cream after, and that’s what counts.

Episode 2: The TV

Last year was the first in many that we went Black Friday shopping in Denver. I admittedly never would’ve bothered except that the monster of a tube I’d been rocking for a decade had lost its color and usually broke someone’s toe every time I moved…and Best Buy had an amazing deal -- a 42” piece of flat-screen HD Toshiba glory for under $150.

My brother and I went to one location while my boyfriend went to another and set up with chairs, blankets, and coffee. Yes, there was a strategy: wait in multiple locations and get a ticket for the TV. Then return after 8AM to pick it up.

The people in front of us had a strategy too: two homeless teenagers that were out of money, they decided to wait in line to get tickets for the top items, and sell them to people farther back in line. “What else would we be doing tonight anyway?” they said as they set up their camp and spent the evening smoking cigarettes and playing guitar in their tent.

It was a fair idea, but I assured them that if they took the last ticket for my chance at a flat screen lifestyle, there would be consequences. Look, you don’t play with people’s hearts on Black Friday. You don’t swindle people’s dreams on Black Friday. They agreed that they would not take a TV ticket, and in return, I agreed to walk to the front of the line to see what those people had already been waiting hours to obtain. The big ticket items: a 54” TV, a blue ray player, my 42” piece of sweetness, and a camera.

As the night progressed, people started crowding and the group at the front of the line had friends join them. RULE NUMBER ONE of Black Friday Shopping: no cutting. No, tiny teenager with fuzzy boots and fresh makeup, you were not here four hours ago. No, your tank-top wearing boyfriend wasn’t either.

Now,  I should tell you that I’m really somewhat of a Black Friday Batman. If you heard my, “Hey, no cutting” voice, you’d know. It totally sounds just like Batman. So as my brother watched in horror, I confronted the large group, presumably part of the mafia who intended to buy everything then laugh as people paid top dollar on Ebay the next day, and kindly advised that the newcomers find their appropriate spots at the back of the line.

What could’ve turned into a ninja knife fight ended like a piece of Hollywood magic. The other 200(ish) people in line were equally upset about this group of 6-turned-15 and really just needed a leader for the charge (maybe I’m more of a Spartacus than a Batman). As a Black Friday army we rallied against these mobster-ninja-line-cutters, until they crumbled and dissipated. Also, that’s when the police arrived.

Ok, moral of the story is that I got a sweet TV…and don’t cut in line.

Do you have any Black Friday stories to share? We'd love to hear them!