Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: An Explanation

**Yes, I know it's been two weeks since I've last posted. I know I long ago fell off the NaBloPoMo wagon. Such is life, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it. There's always next year, and it's good that I've made the right priorities the priorities this time of year.**

This may come a little late, but I didn't even think of posting it until I saw so many people saying, "What's the deal with Black Friday?"
"It's not worth it."
"Why do people put themselves through this torture?"
So many tweets, a few conversations... and I realized maybe I should put my own thoughts out there.

When Black Friday rolls around, you have one group that goes nuts. Absolutely nuts.
We know this. We watch the news and see them screaming at each other... ramming one another with shopping carts... hollering as one lovely woman did in Toys R Us two years ago, "Get outta de way! Mah babies need toys! MAH BABIES NEED TOYS!!!"
They see something marked "sale" and they pounce, almost not even caring what it is.

Then you have another group of people that will in no way, shape or form engage in anything having to do with Black Friday. They see the chaos on tv, they hear the stories, and they think, "Is saving 30% on a talking doll really worth going through that?"
This group either has their shopping already finished, OR they just do it online and pay a little more because they can't stand the chaos.

I didn't think any of it was worth it either... until we had children.
And a budget.
And hardly any money in that budget.

I remember being stationed in Montana. We were on a 1st Lieutenant's salary and had three young children. Between still paying off student loans and two car payments, we looked at each other and wondered what in the world we would do for Christmas.
Scooters were such a huge deal then, and Taylor had been wanting one so badly.
When Wal-Mart came out with an unreal deal on them in their Black Friday ad, we knew we'd be able to get them for both the boys!
And we did.

We're the people that comb meticulously through the ads looking for good deals on things that are already on our list.
Usually our list is made up of if-we-find-it-for-a-good-deal items.
We're not we're-going-to-buy-this-no-matter-what people.
We're more opportunists who know what they're looking for.

So I'm not going to hit Kohls to buy jammies sets for 50% off, because they aren't on my maybe-list.
But I will brave a store amidst chaos to get something on my list that doesn't usually go on sale but is 50% off of Black Friday.
(ie, Legos... none of which went that cheap this year. Boo.)
And if the deal is online? Awesome! We'd much rather do that. But, truthfully, you don't always find deals as good online as you do in stores.

We know what we want. We comb through ads. We map out a plan.
We do our research so we know exactly how good of a deal we're getting... or not getting.
We know when to move forward (last night at Wal-Mart), and we know when to throw in the towel because the line is just too long (last night at Target).
We also don't pout (too much) when we don't get what we're after.
We mentally rate the deal we're going to get with the hassle of getting it.
And, over the years, Black Friday has enabled us to get some awesome things that we know the kids will love (and wouldn't have gotten otherwise) and still stay within our budget.
That makes it worth it.
Even if it means putting up with the lady pushing us aside while yelling, "Mah babies need toys!"

I do need to add that my husband is a genius.
And two years ago (with the babies-needs-toys lady), when Toys-R-Us was crazy at midnight and it would have taken four hours to check out, my awesome hubby "placed" our obtained loot-on-sale atop a high shelving unit.
We left and came back the next morning to find our items still there, out of sight of everyone.
He got them down and we went through the checkout line with everyone saying, "Where in the world did you get those? They ran out at 3am!"
Yep, they did. *wink*

And last night at Wal-Mart when everyone else was combing the aisles for a certain item marked "promo" that was already gone, my awesome hubby walks over to where they're usually stocked, grabs an unmarked one, and scans it to see if it was the same price as the marked ones.
It was.

Oh, the things people don't think of that my husband does.
So, maybe Black Friday also requires good teamwork? *wink*

The bottom line:
*Know exactly what you're looking for.
*Comb the ads carefully.
*Map out a plan.
*Do your research. (Stores often mark up "retail" prices and then take the percent off.)
*Weigh the shopping torture with the payoff... and keep that in mind when you're in the thick of it.
*Think outside the box when dealing with crowds.
*Never feel entitled to the deal.
*If there aren't any deals you're after, don't go!!!

When we enter in with those guidelines under our belt, it's worth it every time.
Besides, we always come out on the other end with great stories.
"Mah babies need toys!"

Here's to Black Friday 2012!

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