Friday, November 26, 2010

Shopping on Black Friday - A New Tradition

Last night and early this morning I did something I said I would NEVER do again. I fought the crowds to shop on Black Friday.

Shopping on Black Friday used to be a fun tradition I shared with my late daughter Julie, her in laws, and a few friends. Thanksgiving day we would scour the ads. The next day we met in the wee hours, fought the crowds, got the early bargains, grabbed a late breakfast, shopped some more, grabbed a late lunch, more shopping--maybe a trip to the ATM-- then drove back home by dark. It took a day to recover, but by golly I got some great bargains. Even if it was stuff I didn't need, at least I got it cheap.

Since we lost Julie and Mike in a motorcycle accident almost six years ago, shopping on Black Friday hadn't been a priority. My husband Walt and I were busy raising Cari and Michael, Julie and Mike's children. We made sure our grandkids got nice Christmas gifts, but I joked I would rather take a stick in the eye than fight the Black Friday crowds. Actually, it was because shopping on Black Friday brought back memories I wasn't ready to relive.

Then late Thanksgiving night Cari asked if I would take her and a friend of hers shopping.

So, shop we did.

We left the house around 11 p.m., drove to her friend's house, picked her up, then rode around looking for bargains--and a parking spot. I shook my head when I saw the lines of folks camped out in front of Best Buy. I spotted a tent and a bonfire, folks sitting in camp chairs, and a few playing cards at a table. We kept driving. The parking lot at Toys R Us was packed, so we continued on our way.

We ended up at Wal-Mart shortly before the advertised 12:01 a.m. sales began.

Maybe it was because of the cold or maybe the freeing rain, but people literally ran into the store from the parking lot. Inside, the greeter handed out sheets that showed where the advertised items were located. As I wandered around trying to maneuver through the crowded aisles, Cari and her friend, cell phones in hand, let me know where they were as they looked around.

I watched shoppers with wild looks in their eyes pile stuff in their overloaded carts. As expected, toys and games were hot items. Suprisingly, so were towels, steam mops, candle gift sets, luggage, storage tubs, and other household goods.

At 11:59 I stood in a line which did not move for 15 minutes, then it slowly inched forward. While I waited with my few bargains, Cari found a couple of inexpensive accessories she had to have. I passed the time talking with fellow shoppers. A twentyish woman in front of me had a basket filled with toys, games, and some household items. We chatted about Christmases past. She told me how excited her five-year-old son was the year she bought him a dinosaur that she got on sale for $100, but which she later sold at a garage sale for $10. "It was worth it," she said, "just to see the look on his face Christmas morning."

The family behind me took turns shopping while one from their group manned the cart. Not a bad strategy. Eventually our line forked into two. The twenty-something young lady veered towards the left; I to the right. That's when I noticed I could've used the Express line, but I didn't want to get out of line and take the chance of an even longer wait. At the fork I stood behind a family with three jam-packed carts. The checker was a woman about my age who was fast, efficient, and pleasant. By the time we left the store, around 1 a.m., I was about $80 poorer, but richer for the experience.

Outside, Cari ran into a couple young men from school who were selling hot chocolate to shoppers in the parking lot. What a clever way for teenagers to earn Christmas money!

After getting the girls a snack at a drive-through and taking Cari's friend to her house, it was well 2 a.m. when we got back home.

I drank a cup of hot tea and read for a bit then crawled into bed around 3 a.m. My feet ached, my back hurt, but I smiled as my head hit the pillow. Maybe it was time I started a new Black Friday tradition--this one with my granddaughter Cari.


  1. I'm not a Black Friday shopper, at all, but braved Kohl's with my mom to pick up 6 items she had picked from the advert. flier. I was very pleased at how they managed the check out line. She got everything she wanted and I kept my sanity, a win-win situation. Blessings on your new tradition with Cari.

  2. Donna, I loved this post. I am very happy for your new tradition. You have given Cari a sweet moment to have in her memory bank. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Donna---It sounds like this was the first of many Black Fridays for you and Cari...a fun tradition for the two of you.

  4. Donna,
    I saw some of you sillies out there. We were coming home late Thursday and the highway was backed up by the mall exit. Toys R Us lot was jam packed.

    Years ago I used to do 4 a.m. runs; now I wait until 4 p.m. after the early birds head to bed. Sounds like fun for you and Cari. The holidays must be bitter sweet for you, though. My heart goes out to you.

  5. I love this post, Donna. It's got the makings of an anthology essay. I want to say more.....but will do so in an e-mail. Until then, I'm sending sugar plum fairies to you and Cari! :)

  6. You and Cari are both nuts but I think it's great! My granddaughters and myself do things together but I'm not brave enough to do BLACK FRIDAY. Fantastic!

  7. So nice to reinvent the tradition with Cari. You're a brave woman!! Glad you got some deals :)

  8. You are brave and how sweet of you to do that for your granddaughter. I'm sorry about the loss of your daughter.

  9. Sally,
    Glad to hear your shopping expedition with your mom went well.

    Thanks so much for your kind words.

    I hope it is the start of a new tradition.

    Thanks, and I agree about the 4 p.m. runs.

    Thanks for sending the sugar plum fairies.

    Thanks. Granddaughters are special blessings.

    Thanks. It was fun.

    Hi Lynn,
    Thanks for your kind words.


  10. Donna, I had no idea you were raising your grandkids. What a blessing that you were able to step in and take charge. Must have have been a very tough time for all of you.

    As for black Friday shopping, even my darling step-daughter never got me to do that. I was not a very satisfying mom/stepmom in that way. Somehow the shopping gene never made it into my otherwise normal female body.

  11. Seriously, Donna, I got a little choked up there.

    I've never done Black Friday, but I was pooped out, just reading about your adventures.Someday, Cari will understand what an awesome grandmother she has. AWESOME.


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