I love shopping, and for the most part, I'm pretty frugal about spending. I'm always looking for a deal. So it might be a bit surprising that I've never dared to venture out on Black Friday. Until this year. Gulp!
I need my space when I shop. I don't like pressure from sales people and I hate feeling like I'm racing through a store, competing with other shoppers to find the best item for the best price. Not to mention, I've never had a desire to be that bug-eyed, sleep-deprived person that bursts through the door at Walmart at 4 a.m. only to be trampled by the masses behind me. It's just not how I picture my 15 minutes of fame playing out on the news. But, this year my boyfriend's sister decided she wanted to go and she bribed me with a latte to go along.
About 11 Thanksgiving night, as we drove home past tons of stores, I was awestruck to see people lined around the block to get into places like Best Buy and Toys 'R' Us. What is so good that it's worth camping outside in the freezing cold with a bunch of other insane shoppers, possibly not using a bathroom for 12 hours or so, just to be the first weirdo in the door? There's nothing I'm willing to get up for at 3 a.m.
Thankfully, she agreed to a 7 a.m. wake time and, again, with the promise of a Starbucks latte, I agreed to risk being trodden by a bunch of sales-crazed, over-caffeinated cheapskates to see what all the hype was about. We arrived at the mall at close to 7:30 and, to my amazement, found a parking spot relatively quickly.
Our adventure was nearly cut short when she managed to find the only frozen puddle in the entire lot and, had it not been for my cat-like reflexes (espresso to the rescue!), would've broken something and we'd have spent the next several hours in the urgent care.
Through the doors I expected to find utter mayhem. It was busy for sure and I was definitely feeling claustrophobic the minute we hit the main floor, but, so far, no one was screaming profanities or trying to stab one another with a 40 percent-off fillet knife. We maneuvered through the crowds to the housewares department only to find the one item we'd both really set out for was all gone. Go figure.
You cannot get up at 7 and expect to get 1,000 thread count sheets for 40 bucks. Not today! The lovely, middle aged woman who got the last set had no qualms about informing us that she indeed had the last set and that she'd already asked if there were more, but alas, she reiterated, she had the last set. I found this to be a gutsy move on her part considering there were two of us and only one, very uncoordinated looking her. Had we been up since 3 in the hopes of getting those sheets, she very well may have found herself bound and gagged in the bedding department while we made off with the goods.
Instead, in the spirit of the holiday, we both smiled at her and moved on. Again, I was expecting far more ruckus, but the best we got were some obnoxious teenagers with volume control problems and a few nasty looks from some older ladies who seemed to think, if they looked at an item; it was officially off limits to anyone else. My favorite part of the morning, however, was finding men, from ages 20-65, sleeping in various parts of the stores.
Obviously these poor souls had been bullied by their girlfriends and wives into coming along as nothing more than pack animals. The first few I found I legitimately thought were mannequins.
About two and half hours later, we were both fatigued and burdened with shopping bags. I was done with this process. I could say I'd been shopping on Black Friday. However, there was one more stop we had to make: The Disney Store.
This time of year is usually cold enough that it's difficult to run from your car to the mall door without a coat. But when you're inside the stores on Black Friday, frantic and overwhelmed, a winter coat is the last thing you want to be wearing. There is nothing like standing in a line for half an hour, overheated, holding a huge stuffed animal, listening to "It's A Small World
After All" and feeling like you're going to barf. Sure, the employees in The Disney Store are probably used to snot and barf and tears, but not from adults! Just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, we were to the front of the line.
I don't know if I'll ever attempt this again. I know the deals are insane, but as I said, I'm a calculated, savvy shopper and I need my personal space to think through what's a value and what's just cheap junk. Some day I'll learn to start holiday shopping months in advance, but until then, at least I've learned a few things about this unofficial holiday for the thrifty masses.
A few words to the wise if you EVER plan to go shopping on Black Friday:
- Don't force your boyfriend or husband to go with you unless you're willing to give a big reward for this sacrifice.
- Risk hypothermia and do not bring your winter coat in with you. It will only slow you down.
- DO NOT bring your children. I cannot tell you how many parents we saw trying to drag their exhausted kids through the mall. This is not a family-friendly event people.
- Schedule serious nap time afterward. If you have big plans for the rest of the day, forget about it. You'll be begging for mercy by 4 p.m.
- Don't punch any sweet, tiny centenarians at Walmart for just doing their jobs. Unless you want an unflattering mug shot on the news and everyone in your city hating you.
- Espresso is your friend. Embrace the love.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Alissa Lawton
Published Sept. 23, 2012
I've been trying to eat at new places rather than my favorite standbys every weekend. I'd been to Buckley's, located at 801 N. Cass St., just once before for brunch, so I figured it didn't really count as a repeat if I was going for dinner. With a different meal you get a new atmosphere, crowd and most importantly, menu options.
Published Aug. 10, 2012
I try really hard to watch what I eat. But, once a year something comes along that is laden in unavoidable unhealthiness, and despite my best efforts my healthy eating habits go straight out the window. We know it. We love it. It is the Wisconsin State Fair.
Published July 14, 2012
I met some friends at Blue's Egg last Sunday for my favorite meal: brunch. They'd been before, but I was a first timer and the place lived up to every bit of hype I'd heard. After two cups of complimentary coffee - a nice touch since the wait was over an hour at that point - we were seated and starving.
Published April 15, 2011
I have come to a point in my life where I feel like I should really have my "stuff" together. I'm not in college, I'm approaching 30, I have a full time job, a car loan, rent, etc. and I feel like I should really be on top of my game in all life's aspects. A small fraction of the time I do feel that way, but then tax season hits and I become a bumbling moron.
Published April 6, 2011
The week went by too fast, but still provided plenty of time to eat, drink and laze around in the sun.
Published March 31, 2011
Alissa gets roped into a benefit fashion show ... and loves it. A trip to the newish Alterra in Shorewood and some serious end-of-winter couch potato time made last weekend a great one.
Published March 14, 2011
Alissa takes it easy on a Friday night, grabs a tan and, although skeptical, gets way into Game Night.
Published Feb. 18, 2011
Alissa fights off the flu long enough to help inflate bids at a charity auction, and spice up a Bloody Mary.
Published Feb. 14, 2011
Super Bowl weekend was filled with tasty food and drink, and a little exercise, for Alissa.
Published Feb. 7, 2011
Date night, a basketball game and the Milwaukee Chili Bowl made for a busy weekend for Alissa last week.