Posts Tagged ‘Black Friday’

Black Friday: Blood Sport

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

On one hand, I want people to shop. Consumer spending boosts the economy and helps create jobs. On the other hand, the materialism is just so disturbing on so many levels. On the third hand- who’s to begrudge folks down on their luck looking to find stuff they can actually afford? I am obviously conflicted.

I have a view of a Pentagon City Mall from my apartment balcony. On Thanksgiving morning I noticed tents had been pitched outside the closed doors to said mall. Could these be Black Friday maniacs? So I took a walk and confirmed my suspicions. Some folks had, indeed, chosen to spend their entire Thanksgiving Day waiting for Best Buy to open at midnight. The line kept growing throughout the day. People were festive. I realized this had become some sort of deranged sport.

Because my son visited me for Thanksgiving and as a starving college student, needed a couple pairs of shoes, we braved the throngs and actually went into the even larger Pentagon City Fashion Mall- a gigantic five-story complex about three city blocks wide. I hate shopping so much- on a normal day, much less BLACK FRIDAY. It was every bit the crowded, aggressive experience I imagined. Except I forgot about the tedium and boredom of the long lines, the unpleasantness of surly customers like me. My son, I must admit, is much more mature and patient than I. Then again, he was the one getting the free shoes.


So now it’s the Cyber Monday after Black Friday and I have just scoured the World Wide Web for interesting, violent shopping stories to validate my intense dislike of crass commercialism.

Found some!

From, two interesting accounts of a Black Friday shopping experience from, apparently, the same Best Buy mob scene at the same California mall. The first one from Chris “Chrispy” B:

About thirty minutes before opening time everyone became one huge mob around the front door. They tried to limit the number of people allowed in at once but the mob just pushed through. My chair got bent in half somehow, still not really sure how. Probably has something to do with my swollen knee.

Apparently, he’d run into Joe the Wizard “K” :

Someone hit me so hard with a chair that he nearly bent it in half. Enjoy your television.

Then there’s the story of 61 year-old, Walter Vance, a pharmacist with a heart condition who collapsed in a West Virginia Target store. Shoppers reportedly stepped over him to get to their sale items.

And my personal favorite: Turns out the woman who pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers at a California Wall Mart in order to clear a path to a crate of X-Box video game players- has turned herself in. But according to police, the moment she walked into the precinct she invoked her 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.

I’m not sure exactly how this conversation went but it could have been something like this:

Pepper-Spraying Shopper: I’m turning myself in.
Cops: What for, lady?
Pepper-Spraying Shopper: I can’t say.


Black Friday- What the Frenzy Says About How We Hurt

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

It has become an annual ritual; people encamped at retail establishments in the dark hours of the early morning, waiting for stores to open the day after Thanksgiving so they can stampede the aisles looking for deals. Some find this tradition a disturbing example of gross materialism. I don’t see it that way. I view it as a symptom of just how horrendously the economy is affecting us.

Washington Post staff writers, Ylan Q. Mui, Dana A. Hedgpeth and Debbi Wilgoren present some pretty poignant reporting on what’s really going on out there. And hats off to them because getting the Black Friday reporting assignment is usually one of the silliest and predictable stories ever.

I was struck by the fact that a lot of folks are not just buying flat-screen TV’s; a lot of them are out looking for some cost relief on basic necessities. A lot of what drives people to the stores on this day is fear. One woman is quoted as saying, “You can’t take anything for granted. I’m not stupid enough to think I couldn’t lose my job tomorrow.”

And there’s this observation from Great Falls, Virginia resident, Teresa Lanz:

The economic downturn is squeezing salaries and forcing layoffs at the construction company where Lanz’s husband works. He will not be getting a raise or bonus this year, Lanz said, and she has already warned her two daughters that it is going to be a lean Christmas season. “Don’t even make a list,” Lanz said she told them. “Hope for the best, and if you get one thing, that’s great.”

These are anecdotes. Here’s the scope: the National Retail Federation says 134 million people are likely to have gone out shopping by this Sunday. In previous healthier years you might make the argument this is just the beginning of the Christmas buying frenzy.

In this holiday season, I’d make the case that the hunt for the deal is not just about purchasing gifts. They’re out there looking to take care of their families. The desperation shown by businesses that would lead them to offer 30 and 40% discounts is matched only by the anxiety people are feeling that the economic foundation is crumbling beneath their feet.

Does this sound like gross materialism to you? It sounds like survival mode to me.