Black Friday’s “What the frak?” Moment: Retailers Ridiculous Opening Times

Black Friday’s “What the frak…?” moment (WTFM) is brought to you by………..

Retailers Ridiculous Black Friday Opening Times: Because nothing says insanity like dragging your butt out of bed at 2 AM to be at a store opening at 3 AM to save $50 on a TV you don’t need.

It’s time for an extra special addition of “What the frak….?” – courtesy of the insane United States tradition of Black Friday Shopping.

Which incidentally, is part of why it’s almost Saturday before I posted. That and Lil Diva only powering napping today.

For those unaware of the Black Friday tradition, here is a sum up of what it entails:

  1. The Name: Black Friday is the day after our Thanksgiving (the last Thursday every November) – named as such because it is the day many stores finally transition from ” the red” and in debt to “the black” and making a profit.  Hence the name.  I believe it could now also refer to a 1) the color of the sky when the stores open on this day 2) the color of the eye some crazy customer gives another when they punch them for daring to take the last Tickle Elmo To Death Doll for $5.
  2. The Ads: On Thanksgiving you buy a newspaper where the advertisement section is heavy enough to be used as a weapon and is far thicker than the actual news enclosed with it. You sort through the colossal stack, fishing out every possible store that looks interesting. You peruse The Deals.
  3. The Deals: range from something you get during a normal 10-30% off sale, to We’re Almost Paying You to Take This Because It’s So Damn Cheap. The latter is the carrot that retailers use to brainwash people into believing sleep deprivation is perfectly acceptable if you can buy 50 new DVDs for $2 apiece.
  4. The Hours: When I participated in my first Black Friday Early Bird Special – about 15 years ago – the Insanely Early Start Time was 6 AM. It was the earliest any store opened for Black Friday.  Now 6 AM is simply too late, with most stores opening their Black Friday doors between 3 AM and 5 AM.  Walmart opens their sales at midnight – which I actually consider less obscene because it’s more feasible to shop at midnight – before you pass out from an overdose of tryptophan – than stay up all night or only catch a few hours of sleep.
  5. The Crowds: Think of a water park on the 4th of July. A general admission show for Metallica.  The subway at rush hour. This is what to expect if you show up anytime from The Opening through the first several hours of business. As long as the We’re Almost Paying You to Take This specials exist and are in stock – people will be bolting around the store, snatching up any item – whether they wanted it or not – because it’s a “good deal.”

    Seriously, people? Shouldn't you be asleep?

  6. The Lines: Remember waiting in line for two hours to ride the roller coaster for 90 seconds? Welcome to the Black Friday Line. First, if you attend The Opening of a store on Black Friday, there is typically a line outside of the store.  Popular chains with Prices So Slashed it Makes The Other Store’s $100 TV’s Feel Overpriced will have this line wind around the building.  Die Hard Shoppers will actually camp out to ensure beginning of the line positioning. Because if they don’t get the free blender, they might have an apoplexy. But wait! That isn’t the end of the line, welcome to the longest Black Friday Check Out Line ever. In more organized stores, they pre-tape out the route to have the check out line weave through the store.  Often times an employee is holding a giant sign or balloons so shoppers can easily locate where exactly to find the end of this line – because it is nowhere near the registers.  Smart people shop in groups so someone can play Line Placeholder immediately upon arrival.

Do I shop on Black Friday?

Yes.  But it’s been many years since braving The Opening of a store – when 6 AM was the earliest time. Now I prefer to shop after 10 AM – when many stores have already been open for six hours. You can still get the sales, but all Ridiculously Reduced Items have been torn off the shelves.  The crowds and lines are greatly diminished. You can find a parking space. It’s actually less crowded than most stores on a Saturday – because all the Die Hards are at home, passed out cold from staying up all night.

This year, I bought shoes – because I desperately needed them.

I shopped after 1 PM – the lines were nonexistent.

Every year, the store hours get earlier and earlier – the crowds even more insane.  Some, like Walmart, start at midnight now.  A few are even open on Thanksgiving.  I predict midnight will soon be the normal start time – which I’d actually prefer to anything between 3 to 6 AM.

At some point, retailers will start having Thanksgiving sales, because Black Friday just isn’t long enough for them.  They’ll keep pushing and pushing.  As long as they have employees willing to come in at asinine hours or customers continuing to wait in line outside in subzero temperatures so they can buy Ridiculously Reduced Items at 4 AM when on any other day they’d lynch you for daring to wake them from sleep at more normal hour.

Why can’t we send stores a sign that 3 AM is not the right time to go shopping?

It’s ridiculous. What the frak, America?

Do you have a Black Friday Survival Story?

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About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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