Column Print St. Joseph — 21 November 2012

The anticipation leading up to Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, grows weeks before the holiday even arrives. We are bombarded with advertising and enticed by coupons to bring us into stores and spend money.
To some, it’s a day where businesses show just how greedy they are for business. In fact, this one day can produce just enough money to keep many businesses afloat for almost the entire year. To others, it’s about the rush of getting that 25- or 50-percent discount. I admit I like the rush of saving money but also see it as an opportunity to see how far people will go for the perfect gift – or at least the perfect sale.
The biggest thing about shopping on this sometimes crazy day is preparation. Shoppers must plan your route or you will struggle to find parking and deal with monstrous checkout lines. The truth is lines are always long on this day. If shoppers get up before the sun comes up and claim their spot in line, at least they’ll be holding the item they came for as they wait.
When I was in high school, a notable clothing and fragrance store was offering a free tote bag with a purchase of $25 or more. This was a BIG deal to me at the time, and I already wanted the perfume they carried. There were several catches. The first one was I didn’t know how to drive. The second catch was the deal was just for Black Friday. I had to think about how to ask my mother to wake up at 5 a.m. so we could be one of the first 100 people to enter the store to get that bag. She reluctantly agreed. I got my bag and beamed all the way home.
As an adult I have also fallen under the Black Friday spell. I camped out with one of my friends who needed a computer monitor. We stood in a line at Best Buy at 4:30 a.m. to make sure she got one. As many shoppers know, the deals are great but stores usually only have 20 in stock. This is especially the case when it comes to electronics. Why do they torture us like that? It’s just not right.
As a lover of newspapers, I like looking through the holiday ads. It doesn’t matter where one lives. The Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day paper is packed not only with good stories but ads galore. Online shopping kills this tangibility of holding the paper in my hands, but — despite that loss —  being able to print out coupons is nice. Sometimes stores will allow customers to use more than one coupon. Bonus!
The interesting thing about Black Friday is it evolves every year. Whether it’s stores announcing earlier openings and closings or news reports of an increase or decrease in shoppers due to the economy, there is always something new.
I read an article in USA Today that said smart phones will play a key role in the shopping experience this year. Some stores have equipped staff with mobile devices where shopping lists can be downloaded before customers arrive and items await you at the register. That offers a solution to the line problem but limits the customer-service interaction. I’m personally too much of a people person for that to attract me, but it is a nice tool.
More than anything, Black Friday shows the dedication friends and family members have to their pockets and those they might want to surprise for the holidays. Those lines might be long, but shoppers bond in them and share their victories in getting the last item out of 20 they came for. I think it’s just a fun day to observe. That’s just me. Happy shopping!

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TaLeiza Calloway
TaLeiza Calloway

TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.

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