Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black and Blue Friday- It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

In recent years I find myself drawn, like a moth to flame, to stories about the crowds storming the stores in the wee hours of the morning the day after Thanksgiving.   The stories appeal to me even as the act of going out into the fray on one of the craziest shopping days of the year does not.  I cannot imagine anything I would do voluntarily that I would hate more.  Yet I am fascinated by those who see it as sport.
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I can somewhat understand the thinking.  I love a good bargain as much as anyone else.  Just not enough to subject myself to crowds gone wild.  There is always a scene of people fighting over the last electronic device priced as an "unbelievable value".  There are always pictures of crowds storming the doors.  Sadly people have been injured and killed in those shopping melees.  Can it be that the desire to get a deal  brings out the worst in us?

About 15-20 years ago, I would take my children to the local mall to see a Santa Claus parade on the morning after Thanksgiving at a civilized hour--9:30 a.m.  Santa arrived on a fire engine preceded by the marching band of the local high school.  We would have to wait, sometimes as much as an hour or so, because Santa and/or the teenagers in the band were never quite on time.  After the parade, which installed Santa on his chair in the center of the mall, the mall was officially open for the Christmas season.  One year, I remember a precursor of Black Friday when I went into one of the toy stores and it was having a one day only morning special sale.  I felt exhilarated to find this unusual sale so much before Christmas.  Little did I know that a trend was in the making.

Black Friday, according to Wikipedia and various articles cited therein, started in Philadelphia.  The phrase was first heard in the 1960s and was believed to be pejorative based on the swarm of people who went shopping along the streets the day after Thanksgiving.  The phrase then spread out into other areas of the country and eventually the meaning was changed to the current, more consumer friendly view that the sales during this time take retailers out of the red and into the black. I feel like the expression is still fairly recent, perhaps because I live in Los Angeles area.  In 1985, the expression was not even known in Los Angeles according to an interview with a representative of Carter Hawley Hale, aka the Broadway stores.

Now it is the stuff of the internet and news stories.  Black Friday-- a day of infamy and pretty good deals if you can stand the hoards of people.  And now you can do your Black Friday shopping this weekend on the internet-- preempting what is known as cyberMonday, the Monday after Thanksgiving when you can get good deals online.  I prefer to shop online as much as possible anyway, although when my dryer gave up the ghost today (joining its friends the dishwasher and washing machine in appliance heaven) I found that others are busy buying online.  The first place I tried to buy a washer could not deliver it for three weeks!  Luckily, for an extra $50 in price, I found another place which will deliver on Monday.

Oh, and this year I ordered my Christmas tree online.  I am renting a live tree which will be delivered on December 18 in the morning and picked up on January 2.  Hopefully it won't die during its visit to my toasty (thanks to Great Grandma) abode.  And reportedly sales are up this year on Black Friday.  If it helps the economy then we all have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend.

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