This Thing Called “Black Friday”

Knowing how busy I’d be this week, I began writing a post for today about a month ago, and considering the topic involved the history of Black Friday shopping, it will soon be sliding into the Desktop trash can. There is just too much on the agenda and good intentions of tending to little extras like a blog post go to the wayside as soon as the holidays begin.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t share a few of my thoughts, so before I chuck all of my notes …

The phrase “Black Friday” was first coined in about 1966 when it was used in a newspaper article to refer to the opposite of businesses being “in the red”. Then, in 1975 after a recession that brought the price of coffee up to a cost affordable by only the richest (those who actually didn’t need the caffeine to get themselves to work each day) it made a comeback as a spur to increase shopping on the day after Thanksgiving – an opportune time as many folks have the day off and with kids out of school, the whole family can holiday shop together, and of course it created a needed bump in the economy. For me, like others who had jobs that required working that day, Black Friday shopping was never an option up until online shopping became a reality. Then, about 2005-2008, Cyber Monday was added to the event, along with pre-sales and previews as early as mid-October, and my email box began filling with all sorts of spam that I actually welcomed from my favorite online shopping sites. Having a business that must be maintained with working, updated technology, and facing the end of my tax year, it’s become the perfect time to buy.  I try to prepare all year, researching reviews and studying products that I suspect I’ll need, and then I sit back and wait for Black Friday offers to hit the inbox.

November for me is also a busy family time with anniversaries, birthdays and the like going on, so the sales are the perfect solution for my gift-giving. I managed to pick up a $169 TomTom XL 340-S GPS unit for an anniversary gift to my husband in an early sale for $89. It’s exactly what he wanted – one he had been drooling over and gushing about since he’d borrowed one from a friend, and gee, wouldn’t it be great if he had one for the jobs he was traveling to soon?  Yeah, I took the hint.  Had I waited to give it to him for his birthday at the end of the month, I’d have saved another $40, as TigerDirect.com has announced a refurbished model for $49 (I love refurbished/recertified electronics – always good as new and usually include a 3-12 month warranty) but I suspect refurbished models don’t include the lifetime upgrades anyhow (and besides, there was the drooling and sighs).

Black Friday Faces via HuffingtonPost.com

Yes, Black Friday has turned the entire month of November into an online shopper’s paradise – no crazy grandma’s fighting over the toy of the season, no camping out in the cold to be able to say, “I got mine” and no dodging the pushers, grabbers and screamers. According to a Wikipedia report, “Black Friday 2010, a Madison, Wisconsin woman was arrested outside of a Toys ‘R’ Us store after cutting in line, and threatening to shoot other shoppers who tried to object.” This brings to mind the sad 2008 tragedy of the Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death by the crowd. I read the story that day on AOL‘s News Stream, wondering what the hell had gone wrong in the outside world – seems “stuff” has become much too important!  I had made the decision at that moment to never attempt offline shopping on Black Friday, and any regrets of never having the opportunity melted with intense cyber-appreciation.  God bless e-commerce!  It seems a much happier place.

To those who agree and would rather save a few bucks on gas, as well as their sanity, most big chain stores have now made their sales available online. Sure, there are some in-store specials that aren’t found on the net, but you’ll also find “online specials only” announced in that wonderful seasonal spam or on home pages of cyber malls like Amazon.com. To help, there are a few websites specializing in hunting down Black Friday deals, such as TheBlackFriday.comThe best part: you can do your hunting and buying nestled in your jammies, while chewing on a turkey sandwhich. 

But if you’re looking for a way to work off those extra Thanksgiving calories or you simply prefer to experience the battle over items that you’ll probably enjoy with less energy than you’ll use in gaining their possession, do be kind, and don’t forget to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” – especially if you are staring into the snarling eyes of a determined grandmother who is clutching the other end of the Elmo box in your hand. If you wait until next month, you might find that same item on Ebay at half the price, and simultaneously, make an old lady smile.  Well, maybe; maybe not.  But, at least, you’ll both still be able to smile.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂

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One thought on “This Thing Called “Black Friday”

  1. Good research there, never gave it a thought on where the phrase “Black Friday” came from. Guess we sort of shop year round to avoid that boisterous crowd. Glad this did not end up in the trash, I enjoy your insights.

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