On target for a best buy
All right, I gave in. I shopped on Black Friday.
Yes, I prepared myself for the ridicule from co-workers and family members. I was ready for that.
Like, "Why do you DO THAT?"
Or, "I don't care WHAT KIND of discount they're giving. I wouldn't stand in line ALL NIGHT. My sleep is more important!"
But you know what, I'll let you in on a secret. Black Friday shopping can be a lot of fun.
Late Thursday night, after the Thanksgiving feast and family gathering was over and my wife and kids had gone to sleep, I sat down and studied the newspaper fliers like I was preparing for a college exam.
But this was a different type of Black Friday for me. There really wasn't anything that I had my heart set on buying, unlike previous years when I went out in search of a cool digital camera or camcorder or a laptop. In fact, if I didn't spot any great deals, I wasn't going out on Black Friday at all. I was pretty tired.
So something had to really jump off the page.
And it did. Best Buy had a sale on a dishwasher that was too good to pass up. Granted, not very exciting. Nothing like a plasma TV or a GPS or a laptop with Blu-Ray technology. But, hey, we were looking to replace our dishwasher soon anyway.
I also had my eye on a few really good deals at Target, Staples and Home Depot (which I can't divulge, because they're Christmas presents). So the game plan was in place.
All told, if I was able to snag everything I wanted, I'd save somewhere around $350. Not bad for a few hours of shopping. But you're never guaranteed anything. Stores run out of stock on the "doorbuster" items quickly.
So at 2:15 a.m., I made the drive up the Northway to Best Buy in Wilton. By the time I arrived, the line had already wrapped halfway around the building to the back. I settled into line. The doors would open at 5 a.m.
But it wasn't long before I realized I was in line with a bunch of really, really fun people. One was a young mom from Queensbury, whose enthusiam and infectious laugh at that hour of the night amazed us all. Then there were the three guys in their mid-20s. Tech guys. They knew LCD from LED and every change in the evolution of video games and digital products. The buzz? It was all about Blu-ray. They all wanted something that included Blu-ray technology.
So, all bundled up and eager to find out if we would get the products we wanted, we laughed and told stories for a few hours until Best Buy employees emerged at about 4:30 a.m. to let us know whether we stood a chance at getting our coveted items.
And that's another aspect to Black Friday. There's a sporting element to it. Will I get the product I'm hunting for? Or will I be a little too late? (One year, I sat in line outside a Target store hoping for a Wii entertainment system. We ultimately found out the store was allotted just 18 units, so an awful lot of people went home unhappy.)
Success! Everyone in our group did get what they wanted at Best Buy. Bleary-eyed and sleep- deprived, we made our purchases as long lines formed.
Now it was on to Target, and for more of the same. And for those of you who've never shopped in the early morning hours on a Black Friday, picture the most crowded you have ever seen a store, and multiply it by about three.
At Target, the checkout lines were horrendous. But there was something on sale for $49.99 that I wanted, and I bought two of them. They were going fast, real fast. I was lucky.
After a long wait, I paid for the items and was ready to leave, but over my shoulder I heard the next customer in line ask the clerk about the free $10 Target gift card you got if you spent over $100. WAIT A SECOND!! I just spent $99.98 (plus tax, which doesn't count). I'm only two cents short of a $10 gift card?? Can't I get in on this?? I asked the sales person. "No, since you didn't spend $100, you'll have to stand in line again, return the items, and make sure you spend over $100,' she said.
That wasn't what I wanted to hear. But, hey, this is Black Friday. It's wild. It's zany. You take what you can get. You meet some nice people in line. Have a few laughs. You save a pretty good amount of money.
And then you look forward to sleeping.
(Jeffrey Haff is The Gazette's online editor.)