Okay, so it’s not an olympic sport… yet. I do however, find this black friday business very interesting. The idea for this blog post started with an article I found in a local magazine, called Black Friday: Survival Tips. Please understand, if you choose to participate in this sport, I’m not saying it’s bad, this might just be another way to look at it.
Black Friday, ironically a name associated with financial crisis, started back in the mid 60’s and has become a cultural icon of holiday shopping addiction. “Door busters” is another iconic shopping term, born out of the black friday marketing efforts of the major retailers. Back in 2008, a WalMart employee was trampled to death by a black friday door buster event. Is this really what its come to?
Back in 1993, I worked as a manager for Toys R Us in Miami, Florida. This was during the Power Rangers craze, where people would line up outside the doors, knowing the the shipment came in the night before. At opening, two people had to unlock the doors, simultaneously at the count of three, then run to paste their bodies as close to the wall as possible, as to not get trampled by the insane crowd pushing their way into the store. I only wish I had saved the security tape where we recorded this, as it’s hard to put into words. I also remember calling the police several times a week to break up a fist fight between parents fighting over the last of some random toy that is probably in a landfill by now.
On to the magazine article… The article was written by my friend Allison (an amazing communicator), and it does contain good ideas if you plan to participate in this cultural event.
Fail to plan and you’ll plan to fail. From what I hear, timing is everything. I know this because my sisters and step-mom do this every year. They have maps and flyers everywhere, and you would swear you just walked into the planning of an important military operation.
The buddy system. Set more than one alarm and then call each other to make sure you’re awake. This must be way more important that work or school.
Dress for success. Layering is the key. Wear comfortable shoes. Skip the makeup. I remember getting up early as a kid to go hunting with my dad. This is the same concept, dress for the weather, wear comfortable stuff and the animals don’t care what you look like. No difference here.
The best offense is a good defense. The advice here is that you accumulate a lot of stuff and you should bring a blanket to cover it up. Okay, this one requires a little push back. Seriously? Because if I’m a criminal, clearly I will be detoured by a pile of stuff covered with a blanket. People, this is an invitation for a thief. I’m sure they appreciate your help in locating vehicles with worthwhile merchandise. Also mentioned here is organization. That’s a good one.
Know your enemy. It’s the returns line, not the aggressive mean people. How about if we call this ‘phase II’ of black friday, or better yet, nonsensical wednesday.
Do not commit the unpardonable sin. This would be cutting in line. On black friday, you could end up in the hospital over this sin. If you really want to have some fun with this, run in circles and yell ‘FIRE!’. Yes, I’m kidding, but it would be a bit funny, don’t you think? And with the buddy system mentioned earlier, you can have your buddy jump in front of the line while you’re creating the commotion.
I’m not opposed to this shopping technique, but it’s not something I choose to participate in. The lady being interviewed did mention a few good things. This builds friendships, it gets the shopping done all at one time and it allows time for more holiday fun time.
This adds a new dimension to the holiday shopping experience. This is the excerpt for wiki:
“The term Cyber Monday, a neologism invented in 2005 by the National Retail Federation’s division Shop.org, refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday based on a clear consumer trend that retailers began to recognize in 2003 and 2004. At the time, retailers noticed that many consumers, who were too busy to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend or did not find what they were looking for, shopped online that Monday from home or work to find bargains.”
You might as well just make this a national holiday, as productivity in the workplace is nil for this group of people.
Yes, I’m creating my own holiday [non]shopping day. It’s to be called smart saturday, a day in which people think differently about holiday consumerism and needing more stuff. If your family really wants a new TV for the living room, that’s okay, go buy one. This day is for people that want to save money, purchase less, be environmentally good and that want to give meaningful gifts.
Let’s start with dumpster diving. Many people think of this a gross, digging through trash in a large bin. That isn’t always the case. There are several forms of dumpster diving. This can be finding items on the side of the road, items next to trash bins, picking up things from friends who plan to throw them away and many other ‘less gross’ ways. You would be amazed at some of the stuff retailers throw away, good things that could go to people in need rather than landfills. Granted, it’s easier to just chunk things in a dumpster instead of listing them on freecycle or taking a load to the local thrift store. I guess it’s good that people do this, or us treasure hunters would have nothing to look for.
Smart saturday also includes shopping at local thrift stores or yard sales. Let’s apply the earlier tips to smart saturday.
Fail to plan and you’ll plan to fail. Plan ahead. Holidays come at the same time every year. Always be on the lookout for things that would make good gifts or items that might be important for someone you know.
The buddy system. If you’re diving, have your buddy look out for the mall cops. This stuff is in the trash, and the people that owned it decided they don’t want it, so why is this a big deal? If you don’t want people in your dumpster, then quit throwing away good stuff. Simple. As for the thrift store, if you find a good big ticket item, have your buddy stand next to it while you find the guy with the ‘sold’ tickets.
Dress for success. In actual dumpster diving, wear washable, tied shoes, no slip ons, as they might get stuck under something. Nobody needs your left Croc. Wear long pants to protect your legs. Pull your hair back. Bring gloves, preferably the rubber dishwashing kind. Don’t wear a ski mask, as the security will think you’re a robber. A special thanks to all you bank and convenience store robbers for ruining this for the rest of us that operate outside in cold weather. This isn’t attire, but bring some large plastic bags for your stuff, or washable green bags work well too.
The best offense is a good defense. This stuff is already in the trash, nobody is going to steal it from you. Bring a truck if you have one. Park it strategically, depending on the area. Close for big items and easy chunking stuff over the side, far away for areas covered with security.
Know your enemy. I guess that might be a rodent or something? There’s no lines and no returns. Well, you could make a return, but you don’t have to stand in line and you can return it to any location.
Do not commit the unpardonable sin. Again, no lines. The unpardonable sin is to leave something good and useful in the trash. Get it out. If you don’t need it, someone else might.
Happy shopping-treasure-hunting-digging-buying-purchasing-stuff day, no matter which one you choose.