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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday: Tales from the Fray

Day 329

I did opt to join the Black Friday fray. For me, it is a way to usher in the holiday season. What I saw (and felt) was not very holiday-like. If yesterday represented any sort of community holiday spirit, I'll pass on through to January.
True stories:

  • People in parking lots were uber-aggressive. Not just a few-- many, many people. Like some sort of parking lot Grand Prix, vehicles were screeching around corners, oblivious of pedestrians, wild to get an elusive parking spot. I did not witness many (if any) full lots and I think it's because the Black Friday craze is now spread over a two day period. Still, I feared for my safety a few times.
  • There were an ambulance and police car with lights blazing in front of Kohl's at 7:30 a.m. Note sure what happened but I know it gets ugly in there.
  • A very tired-looking woman was taking on 6 cashiers at Five Below arguing the price of a Dog Snuggy. Not one of the cashiers would ring up my purchase as they all posse'd to ensure that the woman would pay the full $3 instead of the $2.50 she was insisting was the offer.
  • A woman came in to Sunglasses Hut (I was just looking) and proceeded to scream a string of expletives so loudly through her cell phone that I was terrified in an effort to determine which *&%$#$% games her ^%%^&* children wanted for #$#$#!@# Christmas. 
  • I did brave a Kohl's line. The woman in front of me had a full cart. By the time we reached the register, two sisters joined her, each with a full cart. I bit my tongue.
  • This was the conversation in that same line right behind me:
           Woman #1: Look! sweaters for only $10!
           Woman #2: I really don't need any sweaters. I already have so many.
           Woman #1: But they are only $10! Why wouldn't you buy some?
           Woman #2: You're right.
         She picked four before we reached the register.

  • Parisian offered a coupon for $10 off any non-DoorBuster. Virtually everything in the store was marked a DoorBuster. I left and was rewarded later with a secret text coupon that yielded better prices that the poor saps who braved the rainy lines got. It's true.
  • Finally- I admit I did a not-very-nice thing. I tried to purchase an item on Kmart.com Thursday night at around 11 p.m. (my guests had all gone home). The site noted it was out of stock online but could be purchased at 2 specified local Kmarts. I was still wide wake so I ventured over to Kmart around midnight. Things were still hoppin' over there but the giant TV rush had passed. I asked a nice young salesman to assist me in finding my item. He said he's be right back but became mesmerized by two lovely young ladies seeking advice about a video game. He never came back. I found my item and proceeded to check out at which time it rang up for more that $15 more than the online price. Ever the careful shopper, my smartphone was ready with the web page displayed. 
           "Please adjust to this price," I requested sweetly. 
           "Sorry, we don't match online prices." 
           "But it's YOUR online price and YOUR website instructed me to come here." 
           "That's our policy."
           "Please call a manager."
           Very harried 12-year-old store manager: "We don't match online prices."
           I re-stated my case.
           A second manager came over, listened to both sides of the debate and walked away,  
           wordless. A stand-off ensued. 12 year-old Kmart manager against me. I had just served
           a sit down meal for 15, cleaned up the entire mess and just wanted the advertised price 
           of an item. Seconds passed. The cashier broke into a sweat. The line grew. I waited.   
           "Give her the price." he grumbled and sulked away. 

I won! my jubilation was short lived as I realized I just made this Thanksgiving holiday worse for this poor guy. I took my frustration with Kmart out on this kid who probably missed dinner so that all the town could enjoy a cheap 50" TV. I am not proud.

Black Thursday/Friday has changed. I think the saavy shoppers were again outsmarted by the retail machine. Probably I've changed, too. My no-buy challenge has forced restraint and I see the whole situation differently. I was denied my annual buying-frenzy high, instead enjoying only a mild buzz. 

On to Cyber-Monday ...

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