I remember a decade ago before Black Friday was really “Black Friday” heading out one day on the Friday after Thanksgiving and going to Macy’s and Target to grab some door buster special, no idea what. Since then, the closest I’ve gotten is peaking at Amazon on Friday while eating Thanksgiving leftovers.
Until today. We’re staying at a resort for Thanksgiving that has a Walmart literally across the street from the end of the driveway just a couple of minutes from the hotel. I had to run over there earlier in the day to pick something up that I forgot to pack and wandered into preparation for the Black Friday sale, which unbeknownst to me (and probably nobody else in the country) started Thursday night at 6pm.
I mentioned it to my wife when I got back and we took a quick look at the prices. There were some pretty crazy deals for some things that our kids wanted for Christmas. I figured there couldn’t be that many people in Cambridge, MD, which isn’t near any major cities. I was expecting some crowds but nothing crazy. So, I gave it a shot.
According to the folks working at the store, theirs is pretty tame compared to others. Not much in the way of barriers and crowd control, though there were a few police officers. The store was laid out in a pattern with yellow tape blocking certain parts to keep something of a traffic flow.
I was just about ready to bail out since it was obvious everyone else understood what was going on and I had no idea. But, an assistant manager walked by and asked if I needed help. Guess I looked lost! She walked through my list and told me what items would go quickest and where I needed to be. I managed to grab all my items in about 25 minutes and get in line, mostly by using some creative path-making and politely asking a couple of employees if they would let me cut through some roped off areas. Even so, I was over-matched, having no idea that the deeply discounted DVDs were actually not in the electronics section, but in the deli section on the other end of the store. Duh!
While everyone was panicked and on edge, I was making jokes with just about everyone. This was more about people-watching then the deals for me. I had an interesting conversation with a bunch of moms hovering over a bin of Elsa stuffed animals. Everyone was a bit on edge but mellowed a bit with a few ice-breakers from me. We were chuckling as we got to 3 minutes from the official start time. The employee in charge of our area was chuckling that we were all getting along well, and decided to have pity on us and let us into the bin early. Everyone smiled, grabbed an Elsa and raced to their next goal.
In the end, I had a bit of a bad break. Since I only have one good arm right now, I had to wrestle the bike we were buying for our daughter into the cart and asked a fellow shopper to help me. I didn’t realize until I got to the checkout counter that there was a hole in the box and part of the bike was broken.
The cashier flagged a manager and I explained that I couldn’t lift another bike on my own without wheeling a shopping cart back to grab it. All the aisles were shopping cart gridlock and I was curious if he could get an employee to help me get another bike up to the front. Alas, the answer was no, so I came up one bike short.
All in all, I picked up about a dozen smaller Christmas gifts and probably saved somewhere between $50 and $100. I was a little bit bummed that the bike didn’t work out after putting the effort into the Thanksgiving Walmart rush, but I suspect there will be a similar deal somewhere else before the end of the shopping season.
I definitely don’t think I would attempt this at my local suburban Walmart or Target.
Amazon is just really more my speed.
What are you doing on Black Friday?
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