Friday, November 29, 2013

Black (and blue) Friday

Black Friday... For me, it conjures up images of people waiting outside in the cold, shoving people aside to try and get their hands on  a 'door-buster' sale, and one big question... Why? What drives these people to wait out in the cold for hours on end? Why do some of these people act like jackals
Wait, is this black Friday, or the running of the bulls?
ready to tear out each others throats?

According to blackfridaydeathcount.com, these black Friday sale events have resulted in four deaths and 67 injuries to date (Updated numbers are 7 dead and 90 injured). Shot over a parking spot, trampled to death... How can any sale really justify such atrocious behavior? The truth is that they can't.

People and stores love to talk about how great the deals are. But are they really all that great? Most of the time, they aren't. And in the rare cases that the items are incredibly discounted, there are only a hand-full available at that price. Once those are gone, you're left with the other sales, that really aren't that special. It's like ordering a filet mignon, and winding up with a hamburger... but you had to wait and hour to get it instead of five minutes.

One of the big black Friday items always seems to be TV's. People will tout the price they paid for the 52" TV they got. But there are pitfalls to be aware of. Many times they are so cheap, because they are a non name-brand TV. It may work just fine, but for how long. Sometimes they are cheaper because they are actually refurbished items or are a bare bones version. Other times still, black Friday electronics 'deals' are special models made especially for that day. They can be cheaper because they
Money saved on black Friday = $15
Medical bills = $500
Getting beat down for a 'Tickle me Elmo' = priceless?

are actually made cheaper. Inferior materials may be used. Corners may be cut. But you are paying less because you are also ultimately getting less.

And in many cases, the 'special deals' really aren't that special at all. For many items, the black Friday sale prices are actually the same sale prices that are offered at other times during the year. And if you time things right, you can even find better deals at other points through the year. All with the added benefit of worrying about being trampled or punched in the face over a plush Elmo.

Black Friday isn't even just Friday anymore. I remember when stores opened at their normal hours the day after Thanksgiving. People would still gt in line, the only difference was that they got to go into the store at 8am or 9am instead. Then stores started competing over who could open earlier. Before you knew it, stores were opening at 3am, them Midnight. This year, black Friday has now consumed part of Thursday as well. Stores near me opened up at 8pm to start their black Friday sales. Why? Is waiting a day, or even a few hours really so much to ask?
Hey, I saw that first! Now we shall fight to the death!

It does remind me of the incredible expanding Christmas season. My wife and I were surprised to see
Halloween decorations hitting the shelves at the beginning of September. I mused then whether they were starting Halloween earlier so that they could start Christmas earlier. I wouldn't have to wait long for my answer, because only a few weeks later, an portion of the Halloween section, became a Christmas section. By time October finally rolled around, Christmas and Halloween now shared equal shelf space. Each week, Halloween shrunk as if it were being devoured by the other holiday.  The week of Halloween, Christmas had all but replaced it on the shelves.

Then the day after Halloween, the Christmas carols began... Already? Two month out, and it starts already. The endless stream of holiday songs seemingly determined to drive everyone into insanity. I've joked in the past that Christmas in July would one day become a reality. That Christmas would last half the year. I now wonder if that was just a joke, because the holiday really does grow larger and longer with each passing year.

When I was young, I recall that we simply looked forward to the next holiday. We would have Halloween, then Thanksgiving was next. After Thanksgiving, we then set out sights on Christmas. Then on the 26th, we sat in wait of New Years. That's not the case anymore. Halloween now just feels
Yeah, it's pretty much like that... But with wolf/sheep/zombie
shoppers.
like a prelude to Christmas. Not a holiday to look forward too, but something to just get out of the way. Not a fate such an enjoyable holiday deserves. Then if you were to go off of corporate America, there's nothing between Halloween and Christmas. I think it's horrible that Thanksgiving now seems forgotten by all retailers but grocers. A historical holiday (even though the details are all wrong) resigned to a footnote. Very sad indeed.

And Christmas doesn't really even stop with Christmas anymore. It has managed to consume the entire festive period, right up to the new year. Maybe I'm just getting older, but I long for a day when we all just take one holiday at a time. A day where people don't mesh Thanksgiving with murderous consumerism. A day when holidays are days to spend with friends and family. A day to be with those you love and share that time with them. Some of your family might get on your nerves. But I'd rather entertain the boring stories of an uncle then brave the rabid hyenas known as black Friday shoppers any day.


-Brain Hulk

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