Once upon a time, Black Friday was a holiday of sorts for my family. I don’t know when exactly that changed, but somewhere along the line that family holiday turned into a day to spend in the house locked away from all the craziness that Black Friday has become.
I grew up in a small town in Utah where the best and only real shopping outlet available to my family was Walmart. My family didn’t have anything against Walmart, it was a store that came to my struggling home town when it was needed most, but it wasn’t really a store where my parents could get all of their Christmas shopping done.
Back then the internet wasn’t anything we had ever heard of, so there was no shopping online and searching for the best deals where gifts could be shipped to our small town. If my parents wanted to finish their Christmas shopping they had to travel to a larger city where there were more options available. And so our annual post-Thanksgiving trip to Salt Lake City began.
My whole family looked forward to the trip as an opportunity to stay in a hotel for the night where we could swim for hours and a chance to eat at a local buffet where we could eat all the ice cream we could possible stuff into our stomachs (We were easy to please.) Overall it was a pretty enjoyable time each year.
Even after I married Casey, each Black Friday we would spend the day with my family as they hopped from store to store. Then at some point Black Friday changed. Well, it either changed or I woke up and realized how crazy some of the people were in those stores.
A few years ago I headed out to the stores early on a Black Friday morning in hopes of saving some money on some clothes I needed for work. I headed to my first store at 5 a.m. and that was really the first time I remember recognizing just how crazy people had become when it came to Black Friday deals. I watched as people literally ripped sale items out of my hand because there were no more of those items left. I stood by as people pushed me away from a large bin of socks that were on sale, and I watched as people cut in line so they could get out of that store and on to different stores in search of different sales. It was overwhelming.
After taking a 5 year break from Black Friday, last year I headed out to a local Target just before midnight hoping to be able to buy a Play Station 3 before supplies were gone. I arrived at the Target, which was attached to a mall, at about 11:15 and found a line to the Target store that circled the mall. Police were stationed at the front doors to help protect people’s safety. Once the line began to move, the officers let in small groups of people every 2 or 3 minutes in hopes of keeping people from being trampled to death.
As I worked my way towards the front of the line, I noticed that people had hidden bottles of vodka, whiskey, and tequila in the bushes along the line so they could drink as they waited. When the line began moving the people abandoned their half-full bottles of liquor. This must have been a common practice because teenagers waited for the bottles to be abandoned before swooping in to steal the alcohol. The teenagers knew if they showed up at midnight for the midnight Black Friday sale there would be free alcohol available once the lines started moving.
That’s probably the last time I ever head out for any sale on a Black Friday morning. The deals just aren’t worth seeing behavior that causes me to wonder just how out of whack some people’s priorities are. Are the sales really good enough to make it worth losing the Friday after Thanksgiving? Is it really worth losing a post-Thanksgiving day nap, or a day with my daughters? Wouldn’t it be better for my family if I saved a little extra money throughout the year to offset not attending the Black Friday sales and then spent Black Friday with my family instead of out wasting time frantically running from store to store all while racing other customers for the best deals?
As Santo always said, “to each their own.” But for me Black Friday just isn’t worth it.
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