A Rookie Confronts The Shopping Wars
Diary of a first-timer: Black Friday Edition
By Alicia Jaimes
So, being 23 years old and a lover of all things discount, I feel a little ashamed to admit that I’ve never been Black Friday shopping. I never considered it because it always seemed like a far-off dream that people with a heftier paycheck enjoyed.
Well, things were a little different this year. This year, my family decided to embark on the journey of bargains and deals. This is a story of adventure, sweat, and a little bit of tears. Fellow first-timers beware: this is Black Friday unedited.
Pre-game- Thursday, Nov. 23
In a moment of spontaneity, my family and I decided to hit Fremont Walmart for their Thursday Black “Friday” sale. The sales began at 6 p.m. so we decided to head there around 7 p.m. to miss the crowd. We considered Thursday as a trial-run to the Friday shenanigans we had planned.
We arrived at Wal Mart to see the parking lot full. Cars were parked on snow banks, in no parking lanes, and one was even at the entrance still running as someone sat in the driver’s seat. Trying to find a parking spot was difficult. Customers pushed carts filled with big boxes and bags. Many had a grin as they quickened their walk, slightly crouched, to their cars. with body’s on high-alert. Apparently, however, no amount of high-alert ever gets these folks to get out of the way of moving vehicles.
We entered the store to find people. So. Many. People. Flooding the aisles, overtaking the registers—it was crazy.
People were diving into boxes of clothes trying to find their perfect size, others ran to the other side of the store when they heard the $30 toys were marked down to $10, and then there was us, cramming as many pillows as we could into our two carts because they were only $2. Checking out wasn’t as scary as I expected but after paying everyone had to be inspected before leaving the store.
I felt like a common criminal.
Leaving the store, it was us who grinned and crouched as we wheeled our goodies to the car. It was then we encountered the problem of how we were going to fit them all into the car.
By the time we got home it was about 10 p.m. and my sister and I still had to clip out coupons and come up with a game plan so we knew which stores to hit tomorrow. We hit the pillows at about midnight.
Showtime, Friday, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.
*BEEP, BEEP, BEEP*
“Ugh, no, just a few more hours.”
Later that day at a reasonable time…
After getting too many hours of sleep, my mom, sister, brother and I packed our coupons and game plan and hit the road. We weren’t too upset to miss the craziness we’ve heard happens during the early morning retail battles. We were going to be on Alpine by about 1 p.m. and if we missed the really good sales, at least we had our sanity and could comfortably shop for the rest of the day.
Cue Alpine: a mess of cars and soon-to-be car accidents. People were weaving in and out of each other, one even hit someone as we drove past the aftermath (the drivers were okay). Part of me shrugged this off as good ‘ole Alpine and the other part was uneasy with nervousness.
We decided to stop at the strip mall before heading to Rivertown Crossings and walked into our first store. “Buy 3 get 3 free” covered the windows and entrance. What a deal! We squeezed ourselves between customers smelling candles and finding their favorite scents, and the line wound throughout the store, almost ending outside. Little did we know this would be the first of many lines we’d encounter that day.
After flying through a few stores on Alpine, we decided we were ready for the big leagues as we headed to the mall.
We were wrong.
Everywhere was packed, and I swear we spent more time in lines than actually looking at the store. Our list, our game plan, our sanity—all out the window. After leaving our first store, hot and mad, I considered calling it a day. Luckily, after refueling our systems with sustenance from the food court, we felt stronger and more confident. Grabbing carts, we wove through crowds of people and began tossing in anything that was our size and seemed like a good deal. In the moment that I found five name-brand, $60 sweaters on sale for $10 each, I was bitten by the Black Friday bug. Nothing could stop me now!
Except the mall closing—that’s right. We stayed until we were kicked out and still managed to miss three of the stores we wanted to get to.
Returning home at 10 p.m., my arms ached as giant bags hung from them, my back killed from spending the better-half of the day standing in lines, and my feet were puddles of jello, and I was on a discount high. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Would I sleep in until a reasonable time? Never again. I finally understand why people get crazy in the retail holiday: there’s just not enough time. With all the people and waiting in half-hour lines, you have to get up early just to make sure to get what you came for…and then some. Sure, I became the bug-eyed discount shopper, but hey, it’s only once a year and that’s good enough for me.
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