November 25, 2011

Black Friday Madness

Some of you may know/recall that I used to work retail for a number of years and that my wife still does.  We actually met on the job at one of the local Fred Meyers.

It seems every year Black Friday gets worse and worse while the public just eats it up.  What the hell is wrong with people these days?

I remember when Fred Meyer opening up at 5 AM was a big deal.  For at least the last decade they've had this big sock sale that was "their thing" and they served donuts and juice for the shoppers during their 6 Hour Sale.  Around 2004 a bunch of Fred Meyer executive types jumped ship to ShopKo and the very next Black Friday they opened up at 4:30 for a Sock Sale where they served cookies and milk.  Did it really take a bunch of new hires to come up with that idea?  There were quite a few other retailers who opened at 5 AM, but it seemed to me that ShopKo opening up earlier might have gotten the ball rolling.

Things have steadily gotten worse every year and this year we have stores starting Black Friday as early as Thursday!  ShopKo started their "Black Friday" ad at midnight, Target at midnight, Walmart at 10 PM, Toys R Us opened up at 9 PM!  Seriously?  Way to say "eff you" to your employees.  At least some employees are pushing back.

I'll admit that there were some items I'd love to have picked up at the "amazing" discounts they were offering.  The rub is that any great deal is limited, so to even have a shot you have to camp out well before the opening of the store and then make a mad rush to get your product.  Sure....let's miss Thanksgiving and camp out for a day to possibly save $150 on a printer or $30 on a waffle iron.  Has anyone ever heard of the time-value of money?  Has anyone bothered to extrapolate the concept to the money value of their time?  How much money would you be willing to spend to enjoy the holiday and not get trampled over by a throng of people after you've spent all night in the cold and possible rain?

Today I've heard and seen reports of people pepper-spraying each other, struggling to get a crappy waffle iron for $2, and even get beat down for protecting their grandkid from getting trampled to death.  I find it fitting that most of the truly obscene behavior is happening at Walmart.  I worked for Walmart for 90 days back in 1989 and based on my personal experiences I tend to believe every bad thing I hear about that place.

I have the overwhelming bulk of my shopping done this year.  Between shopping online and in the stores outside of the main rush I had no problem finding what I was looking for.  We did go to Fred Meyer's 6 Hour Sale, but coming in at 10:30 AM we were able to get everything we would have been able to get at 5 AM.  Sure, we didn't get one of the 100 gift cards they were giving away to the first 100 customers, but we a) got a good night of sleep b) didn't have to camp out and c) didn't have to run/claw/fight/bite out way through the inevitable throng.  I'd pay the $5 that was the amount of the gift cards.....hell I'd even pay the $100 that was the one "lucky" winner of the lot.

One thing I am going to do is support "Small Business Saturday" and shop at a couple of small business tomorrow.

Novermber 25th, 2011 Edit: I just learned that at least at Fred Meyer #662 there were people waiting in line as early as 11 PM last night (6 hours before they opened) and there was a mad dash to pick up one of the free $5 gift cards they gave out to the first 100 people.  Wow......let's assume that everyone that showed up at 11 PM had a 100% chance of the $100 gift card (instead of 1% chance for the first 100), was your time in the cold and rain (it rained some last night) worth $16 an hour?

How about 99 cents an hour?  That was the average amount "earned" for each of the 100 people there for the first card (assuming they were all there at 11 PM, the number climbs to a staggering $5.95 an hour if they showed up at 4 AM).


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