I never quite understood the whole Black Friday thing. My cousin Treasure goes every year, and EVERY year I wanted to go with her to see what it was all about, but I just could never convince myself to get up before the sunrise and head out into the cold to wait in line. After scouring the BF ads for the past couple years my husband decided to go it alone last year and I stayed with the kiddos. After his experience he determined you definitely need at least TWO people (you have to have a runner...which I should have learned from all my cousin's BF blog posts..sigh). Anyhow, we decided this year we would send the kids home with the MIL and him and I would go out. I have to say, I think I'm hooked.
This is going to be a LONG post so just bear with me.
This was NOT at all like I expected. I expected to see humanity at its worst, but in fact I encountered a TON of really nice people and I felt this sense of community while shopping. It was definitely crazy but it was a LOT of fun.
After scanning the ads after Thanksgiving I decided to come up with a game plan. I found that several of my items were similarly priced at both Wal-Mart and Target. There were some Wal-Mart specific items, and some Target specific items. Thankfully we were not purchasing any electronics at Wal-Mart so we could go at midnight to get the toys and other items on our list, and what we didn't get there we could make up for at Target at 4am when they opened.
We arrived at Wal-Mart around 11:15 and the place was PACKED. We got there and there was no cart anywhere. I grabbed myself a little basket and decided that I would use that and hand carry the rest. Wal-Mart had all their BF ad items shrink wrapped in the middle of the aisles. (I can see the need for this but it caused MASSIVE congestion). There were people huddled around them and tearing into them like crazy. All the items were marked "ITEM DOES NOT GO ON SALE TILL MIDNIGHT", but unless someone was specifically watching, people were tearing into them like wolves. I felt kinda bad disobeying the rules, but all is fair in war, so I snagged some of my items when I saw something I wanted. There was a girls bicycle on sale for $29, Jamin went to grab it but some lady began yelling at him that we were not allowed to pick it up until midnight. She was watching us closely, so he just decided to park there and wait for it. While he was doing that I decided to go try and hunt some other items on our list. I went to the back of the store to find the $4 pajama sets and they were heavily guarded in one area. You would think this was loaded guns or something the way Wal-Mart was guarding them. Ridiculous that people were lining up for PAJAMAS.
I went around the corner and saw another pallet of pajamas unguarded, and people were ravaging them. It was somewhere around this time I heard a Wal-Mart rep say that we could get into the items. I went ahead and found PJ's for both small girls and ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a while. It was good to see her. We both looked for PJ's together for a few moments. I kept looking for the older kids some PJ's because they are about $5 cheaper than normal, and overall that's a savings of $20 for all for kids, so it's a pretty good deal. I never found them for the older kids, so I gave up and went to find my husband. This was a little after midnight.
He was in the back of the store, in gardening in LINE. Oh. MY. GAWD. I get back there and he has a $200 Kitchen Aid mixer in his cart. I gave him a funny look because that item is NOT on our Christmas budget this year. He smiled and pointed to a smiling gray haired man behind him in line and explained that he was sharing his cart with this fellow. (We later found out his name was Bob.)
So there we were. Me, my husband and Bob. We stood there for about forty five minutes and the line was not moving at all. I finally decided to go see what was up. What I found was a complete and total traffic jam of carts all merging into one huge line. People were just squishing their way into the pile and there was really NO real line. I saw this and KNEW we'd never get out of there, so I started searching for a new line right away. I found one that was in the gift bag aisle and I could see the register from there. I quickly texted my husband to come find me. He couldn't find me but ended up one aisle over in the cards. I walked over and found him and Bob there.
Bob had found that line, went and found my husband because a nice lady saved his spot, and we all went into it. Bob was with us for the long haul. Our line quickly began to slow down. Some lady at the register was causing a stink. The manager light began to flash and the poor cashier looked like a deer in headlights. This went on for what felt like forever. They finally got a new cashier and the line began to move. We were one cart away from the register and the lady in front of us saw our bike and asked how much it was. We told her and she had that pained look on her face that she wanted one. I told her "they are just right over there" (I could see them from where I stood). I said "hurry, go get one". She ran over there and grabbed the exact same bike as me. We checked out, shook hands with Bob and said our tearful goodbyes...
Finally at 1:45am we were DONE with Wal-Mart. We were both fading, and starving so I gave in and let my husband go to the Waffle House to eat. (I usually don't like these places because they are dirty and scare me, but their bathroom HAD to be better than Wal-Marts bathroom and it WAS. That's saying A LOT).
We got out of Waffle House about 2:30 and went to Toys R Us because we had time to kill. We didn't buy anything there, just walked around. We grabbed some coffee, and hunkered down in our warm truck in the back of Target parking lot and waited. The line was wrapped around the store. People had TENTS. I wasn't about to get into that craziness for the few items I wanted. We waited until the store opened and the line moved and we went up there. At 3:55 "Eye of the Tiger" came on the radio...fate? It possibly was. It was like we had our own personal little soundtrack. We were pumped, we were ready. 4:00am the doors opened and we filed out of our car towards the store. Ran into the same friend that I saw in Wal-Mart on the way! We got into Target a little after 4am. My husband headed for the toys for one item, while I went to electronics for two other items. We found all three items on our list and were checked out by 4:20. Target was a dream compared to Wal-Mart. We had successfully gotten everything on our list for the day and decided to head home.
We had gotten everything that we came for! Total score. We are the kings of BF shopping.
So here is what I learned: Mob mentality CAN and WILL get the best of you. Don't give into it. Stay calm and you will most likely end up getting what you were after. You have to go in there though with the notion that you MAY not get what you are after and that is OK. You have to be QUICK and savvy, but you don't have to be rude. People out there are also pretty nice and willing to help you, there is just a sense of camaraderie when you are out at that hour with people all on the same mission. This whole experience was SUCH a trip. I can't wait to do it again next year.