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The Black Friday Shopper Diaries

November 27, 2009

Let me get this out of the way: Black Friday/Midnight shoppers are a  crazy breed. What possesses folks to come out–after supposedly eating themselves senseless–to shop? Dealing with massive crowds isn’t my idea of  post turkey activity, yet for thousands it’s a rite of the season. I’m guessing for some it’s the event status. For others, maybe it’s that feeling of being a part of something and coming back with a story to tell. I’d also bet a few are simply looking to get an early jump on getting some sense of the holiday spirit.

Of course the most fearsome is The Bargain Hunter. With almost lethal accuracy, The Bargain Hunter is the one who can spot a deal a mile away. Put those groups together and you have an anti-recession armada, hellbent on getting this economy back on track one credit card swipe at a time.

I had never been to a midnight Black Friday mall opener. In deciding to take one for the team, now seemed as good a time as any to go.

At Concord Mills Mall in Concord, North Carolina, the Black Friday Shopper was in full force. The Black Friday Shopper is an expert at waiting on lines. The line to get into the mall by 11:15 pm snaked from one of the main entrances over to The Children’s Place, no small line. I saw a line that started from the Coach Factory and stretched past at least four additional stores. A mob waited outside of the Old Navy Store. There was a line outside of Game Stop that was so long that you could not fit all of those people inside. Several stores needed crowd control as there was no way to fit all of those people inside at one time. All of this before midnight, the time slated for the everything to open.

By 12:30, many stores were jammed. Lines were still forming outside several stores. The smaller the store, the more sardine-like it became.  About half of the food court was open and crowded as well. Given the amount of business Sbarros was doing, it’s safe to say that the turkey people supposedly ate earlier in the day wasn’t enough. Even the Black Friday Shopper needs nourishment before seeing out the next bargain. Insanity was officially settling in (as if it weren’t already).

The parking situation by 1 am was atrocious. The only spots left were the ones that required quite a hike to get to the first entrance.  Numerous Black Friday Shoppers were already doing The Shopping Mall Stalk, the act of driving slowly behind you so as to be the first to nail your spot. On the inside it was total chaos, out of hand in ways that even I didn’t expect. It became wall to wall people.  Moving freely was a fantasy an hour into the mall’s midnight opening.  Not one to mix well with thousands of Black Friday Shoppers, I had decided to bail out. This excursion was officially over. I’d had enough.

Oh, I didn’t buy a thing while I was in there. Time wasted? Perhaps, but sanity intact and you can’t beat that.

To all Black Friday Shoppers, I tip my hat to you. How you do it year after year is nothing short of amazing. The pushing, the shoving, the maneuvering (and those Shopper Jockeys who maneuver with baby strollers, what a strategy!) it’s more of a skill down to a science by this point.

My next Black Friday will find me returning to more familiar territory. Sleeping.

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