My oldest sibling Doug is possibly the funniest, most postive person I know. He wrote my parents, who are serving a mission in Texas, an e-mail recently describing his first Black Friday shopping adventure with his wife Sherri. I'm copying it to this blog without his permission, so I hope he isn't angry. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
"Mom, I do have to report on the Black Friday shopping adventure. I had never partaken in this long-standing tradition, so I thought I had better check it out just to see what the hubbub was about. Let me see if I can put into words this transformative experience.
It all started with the Wednesday before the Friday sales. We received all the ads from the stores in Logan. We also learned that this year Walmart and some of the other stores were splitting their sales. Many of the Black Friday sales would begin at 12:01 AM and the electronic stuff would begin at the traditional 5:00 AM. As you can imagine, this bit of information changed the whole shopping plan. Now we would not have to get up before the roosters--we were not going to go to bed at all. It was going to be an all-nighter.
All day Wednesday and Thursday we worked over the ads formulating the game plan that would give us the greatest bang for our buck. We knew which stores we would visit first and who was in charge of getting what bounty. Finally at 10:00 PM, Thursday, we put the kids to bed instructing them that if there was an emergency, give our phones a call. At 11:10 PM we left the house, game plan rehearsed and in hand, ready to do battle for the ultimate prize of the best deals in the world.
We arrived in Logan at 11:45 PM and to our astonishment had to park about a half a mile away from the front door of Walmart. Apparently others had found out our secret that Walmart would be open early. There was not a parking spot in the substantial Walmart parking lot. We finally found a place to park the car, then walked our 1/2 mile to the store and received our map as to where all of the great deals were located. What Walmart had done was put all the crates of the door-buster deals in the aisles. They then covered them with black plastic with a note that said 12:01 or 5:00, indicating the time in which the treasures would be unveiled to be purchased by eager shoppers.
I was told to get DVDs and games, so I found where I should go and headed over to that spot. To my chagrin there were about 200 people who had the same plan. The poor clerks at the center next to the black plastic-covered crates of deals must have felt like Daniel as he was sent to the lion’s den. Actually they probably would have preferred the lion’s den to this mob of people. I was now faced with a problem. My prize was within sight but there was a multitude of people between me and pay dirt. I decided that I would just wait until the items were uncovered, and then I would make my move. As the clock ticked down, the crowd began to quiet with anticipation.
Finally the 12:01 time struck and the workers removed the black plastic. It was simply jaw dropping what happened next. You know in the movies when everything goes into super slow motion, and you can see the stream of the bullets that had been shot from a gun? Well that was what it was like. All of the air in the whole store rushed toward the aisles as thousands of people inhaled at once. I think I could see Oxygen atoms being sucked out of the air and into people’s lungs as they began to reach for the magnificent deals. The air began to buzz with the sound of people pulling at the sale items. I had never been in a mosh pit before, but all of the sudden there I was: hundreds of people pressing against each other trying to get to the DVDs.
I realized that I needed to move into action...well, it wasn’t really action; I kind-of pointed my body in the direction I wanted to go and swayed back and forth. The crowd then just kind-of moved me along. I got over to the crates and started pulling DVDs. Sherri had given me good direction. She said it doesn’t matter what the DVD is. Just grab them, then we will meet and decide which ones we would keep. Initially I thought that was not a good idea because I would waste time trying to grab something we did not want. Now that I was in the battle, I realized that Sherri’s strategy was the best. I began grabbing every DVD I could put my hands on. I noticed that there were some DVDs still on lower shelves, but I dared not put my head down as I was afraid that I would be shoved to the ground and trampled by the herd of value shoppers.
I soon had quite a pile, and so headed out to meet Sherri and decide which were keepers. I got out the same way I got in by pointing my body in a direction, rocking to and fro, and letting the crowd push me along. I called Sherri on the cell phone (great invention these cell phones), and we met in the women’s clothing.
Another of Sherri’s great strategies was to not get a shopping cart at the start. We had the Walmart bags. That way you could knife through the crowds and not have to try to move the bulky cart. That was a genius move. Once we got together we found a cart and started filling it with our wonderful trophies we had won in our hard-fought shopping battle.
We still had stuff to get so Sherri started shopping for some of the other gifts that were not part of the Black Friday sales. I was instructed to go meander through the store and see if I could find other Black Friday things that people had decided not to get. I thought that was crazy as all the great deals had been taken from the aisles. But to my surprise, almost everyone uses the same strategy of taking everything and then figuring out what they want later. They then just discard the things they do not want in whatever section they are standing in. I walked around the store finding DVDs in automotive, bakery, toys, cosmetics, and other crazy places. It was like an Easter Egg hunt.
I would find something then run over to Sherri with prize in hand.
“Do we need this?” I would ask. Many time she would say, "Oh yes. That’s a great find." I felt like a dog that had finally learned not to defecate on the carpet. I got my pat on the head, and I was off to find another item. This continued on until we had about everything we wanted.
The next instruction was to get in line for the electronics. Again I consulted the map to see where they were and headed to that part of the store. For these items, they had us stand in line until a little before 3 AM, then they handed out tickets so that we could leave the line and shop, and then return at 5 to claim the prize. It was great fun standing in line with all the people. We laughed and talked about all the great shopping we had done. Told stories about our kids and just got to know some neat people.
Once I had my ticket I again found Sherri by use of the cell phone. When I got to her she had the cart filled. It looked like the Grinch’s sled after he had taken everything from all the people in Whoville. I asked her if there was anything left for the other people to buy. We then checked out and loaded our booty into the van and headed to our next destination which was Kohls.
We arrived a Kohl’s to a more traditional Black Friday opening. There was a line of people who as soon as the doors opened rushed in like a great ant horde devouring everything in its path. I went in to the store worked my way to the back, went to the restroom, took care of business there, and then left. Kohl’s is not my kind of store, to many clothes and not enough toys. We then notice that it was getting close to 4 AM and JC Penny was going to be opening up soon. So back in the van and over to Penny’s we went.
We got there before the doors opened, but because the line was not real long, we waited in the car until one minute before it opened. We then jumped out and rushed in. Here I was commanded to go get the pillows. I went quickly there and picked them up. Now I was stuck walking around the store with four giant pillows in my hands. I had to be careful, because if I turned too sharp I would knock something or someone over. I am glad that I did not try to pick up one of those free snow globes, because I had nowhere to put it. I guess I could have stuffed it in my mouth, but that would have looked dumb.
Once the Penny’s shopping was done it was back to Walmart to get the electronic stuff. This was nice. I just stood in line with my ticket, and then when the 5:00 hour chimed I got my stuff and checked out. We then went to IHOP for breakfast and finally home. I must say that it was an amazing adventure. I am sad that I had not had this experience before now. I cannot wait to do it again next year. We really did enjoy it. Mom I think you and Grandma would have been proud to see the way we fought for the good deal.
Your son Doug"
Editorial note: My mom, aunt, and grandma are LEGENDARY bargain shoppers.