Yes. I decided to participate in the Black Friday shenanigans that occurs Friday after Thanksgiving every year. Before diving into the story, let me say this. I am not a shopper. I may work in retail, I may live next to one of the largest shopping venues in the state, but I do not enjoy shopping. Clarification: I don’t mind the shopping process, but I dislike going into the store trying out different things, browsing, and generally wasting time. I usually do my research online and know ahead of time what I want before setting foot in the store, rarely asking for help or gathering opinions. I digress.
Black Friday. Ridiculous. On Thanksgiving, Mama Fish came to the conclusion she needed a new computer, more specifically, a laptop. We (meaning I) searched through the ads and pulled out four different options, comparing specs, prices, features, etc. After an extended explanation and an analogy of how a computer is like reading a book (Ghz is how fast you can read a book, RAM is how many pages at once, and GB is how big the book can be), we decided (meaning I said this was the one she should get based on the dollar figure while Mama Fish nodded her said and replied, “if you think that’s the best one.”) on which laptop fit her needs the best. Best Buy had it for $250 the retail price w/ free printer on Black Friday. Damn it.
I knew I was going to drive back to Cbus that night anyway, so I decided I’d just get really wired on Monster Java and then stay up all night in line to pick her up a new comp because there was no way she was going to stay up through the night for it. I got to Columbus around midnight, dropped Diesel off at the house, changed into my outdoor gear (it was raining and the low for the night was 29), with a small backpacking stool & headphones in tow. Hey, I wasn’t about to stand for 4 hours in front of a store.
The line was already a good 70-80 people deep. Luckily, I made it just inside the edge of an overhang, so I didn’t receive the direct overhead pelting of the rain, just the stuff hitting at an angle. I plopped my stool open, got my headphones in my years, clicked on my Katy Perry inspired playlist, and hunkered down. It was 12:45am.
Three hours later I was still sitting there, well beyond Katy Perry’s playlist and not going hardcore with the likes of Metallica and old Jane’s Addiction. Whatever was going to keep me awake and upbeat. At about quarter after 4, Best Buy employees came out of the building and started announcing doorbuster specials and passing out tickets guaranteeing particular items. Over the last three hours, I had befriended two of the gentlemen in front of me and have found out they were also interested in laptops. Neither were dead set on a specific laptop, however both were looking for the smallest dollar figure possible. None of us heard any door buster announcements that jumped out at us, and we began to wonder what the likelihood was of us getting what we hoped for. At 4:55am, from what we could tell all the doorbuster tickets had been distributed, so the three of us stood and waited for the doors to open.
At 5 after 5am, the automatic doors parted, and they allowed the first 30 people in the store. The rest of us waited anxiously for our turn to enter and bum rush the aisles holding our Black Friday treasures. When I was allowed in I bolted right to the computer department, focused in on an associate whom I had spoken with last Wednesday evening in preparation for such an event. I walked right up and said, “Hey man! I need this,” pointing to the computer in the ad I held in hand. He looked down at the image then back at me and said, “Yup. We’re out of it already.” Shit.
At that point, the lack of sleep and anxiety started to rush in me, and I got panicky. I asked him what the next closest thing to this particular machine was that he had in stock. He picked out another and said, “If I was buying one for myself, this is the one I’d get. I accepted his recommendation with a heavy heart, knowing it was a solid machine but not what I intended on picking up.
I gave the rest ofthe store a quick lap, picked up some insanely cheap Blu-rays (every season of Weeds for $8, The Watchmen and The Departed each for $8) and then headed in line, which had already wrapped itself around the perimeter of the store. After waiting in line a few minutes, some small talk had developed amongst the customers around me, and I listened more out of boredom than anything. From what I gathered based on bits of what everyone was chiming in, there was a family in the front of the line who hoarded a bunch of the door-buster tickets so they could decide which ones they wanted after the fact, leaving less for others who were there for those particular items. This obviously enraged the surrounding patrons.
In the middle of all this commotion, the lady behind me (who had a ticket in hand) exclaimed that she didn’t even want the ticket she had, but got it because there was nothing else left. She didn’t even know the price (which wasn’t printed on said ticket) of the laptop. I looked at her ticket and low and behold it was the one I was eyeing for Mama Fish! After showing her the ad with the price, I asked her if she was going to use it. She gave me this white-trash story about how she was buying the laptop for her daughter, but didn’t want to spend more than $200 because her daughter had already tried to sell her earrings for marijuana, so she wasn’t about to buy her a nice laptop which will most likely be pawned for drugs at some point.
Knowing I could capitalize on this, I offered to trade her for the 2nd choice laptop I had picked, but she politely declined, reasoning it was still out of her price range for her irresponsible daughter. She did catch me by surprise and said I could just have the ticket. So there I was with two laptops in hand. When it came time to checkout, I ended up buying them both with the reasoning that I could always return the one that Mama Fish didn’t want or sell it on Craigslist (and maybe make a profit). In the end my sister ended up calling dibs on it which didn’t get me a profit, but I was okay with that because it helped her out.
I walked out of Best Buy at 7:18am. 7.5 hours after I got in line, but with two laptops in hand. In the end it was worth it, as I saved Mama Fish and my sis $400 dollars, but I vow to never do it again.