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Black Friday, A Dark Stain On Our Consumerism; Or, How I learned to Survive To Shop Another Day

Black FridayI am not a big fan of shopping. I tend to go somewhere, get what I need and leave. Occasionally, when I want to waste some time, I will browse for about 20-30 minutes. But I can’t go to the mall or store and “shop” for hours. This is all during normal business hours.

I used to work in retail. I worked at a game store, EB Games, for a few months, but thankfully not during the holiday season. I also worked at Kohl’s as a sales associate and Target as an overnight stocker both during the Holiday season. And let me tell you, it sucked. At Kohl’s I spent my time dealing with unruly customers and short stock on promotional items. It was a terrible combination. At Target, I avoided the customers, but I had to deal with their messes. Customers would just toss stuff around. They wouldn’t put things back on the shelves when they decided they didn’t want the item they pulled off. Shoes were the worst. Even on normal business hours, shoes are the worst to clean up, but during the holiday season that department looked like a warzone.

I think those two experiences, and just a lifelong apathy toward shopping in general, has completely turned me off the idea of Black Friday. I have tried it before. But like normal shopping, it was to get one specific item. For instance, a few years back, I went to Big Lots for the sole purpose of getting a copy of Guitar Hero 3 for PS2 with a packed-in guitar for $20 or something dirt cheap like that. We bought two copies so we had two guitars. That was it. That was the only thing I wanted and I ended shopping soon after that.

I don’t knock anyone who does shop on Black Friday or any stores that take part. I have complained in the past about the shift to start Black Friday on Thanksgiving evening. That I don’t understand. None of it is for me. I have toyed with the idea of opening my own game store in the past and Black Friday is an expected thing from retail outlets and I probably would have had extended hours and held some sales, but I wouldn’t have been happy about it. I just don’t like going through all the negativity around the sales event and wouldn’t want to put employees through that.

I don’t imagine game stores would suffer much of the same fate as big box stores. Most dedicated game stores around me are not doing much other than buy two used games get one used game free. They may have some extra stock of hot items like newly released hits and the NES Classic, but overall, the massive rush to get those hot items wouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. However, they will have to endure customer after customer coming in for the rest of the day and loudly and angrily complain they are out of the one super hot item that the customer wanted but couldn’t be bothered coming in early to get. It is that kind of behavior that I can’t stand. These are the people who won’t listen to reason and will complain and yell because they can’t get their way.

I am sure there is some good to come out of this. I am sure the kids parents buy stuff for will appreciate the fact that their parents got up at four in the morning to be first in line at Walmart to buy that toy they always wanted and will play with for three days before they go back to watching TV and playing Minecraft. I am sure that the significant other of the Black Friday shopper holds extra value in that gift knowing that they endured a stampede only a few horns shy of being a re-creation of the Running of the Bulls. After all, isn’t pain and suffering the greatest showing of affection the world has to offer?

Really, the best gifts are the ones that show your love and friendship through a deep understanding of the wants and needs to the person receiving the gift. No one cares if you bought that gift at three in the morning while enduring a hoard of mindless zombies. No one cares if the gift was bought the Saturday before Christmas or whatever holiday you shop for. No on cares if you got the gift for 20% off its “sticker price”. What they care about is who is giving the gift and how much the gift shows that person cares. Unless the recipient of the gift is a spoiled brat who actually cares about material things more than friends and family.

Perhaps the world would be better if more people were like me. I shop for deals throughout the year to buy gifts for Christmas. I have a stash of gifts hidden away that have been there for months after being rescued from clearance shelves and discount bins. Some of these gifts will be welcome and happy presents. Some might even be skipped this year because the tastes of the child have changed in the two and a half months since I bought it.

Perhaps the world would be a better place if people decided that rampant consumerism wasn’t the best way to show our love for others. What if instead of buying gifts for Christmas we instead performed acts of service for our loved ones. Sure that 50 inch 4K television would provide hundreds of hours of television viewing experience that was slightly better than the HD TV they already own, but wouldn’t they like it more if you showed your love through actions throughout the year?

But since we don’t live in a world where either of these scenarios are feasible for most people, I suggest a few changes to our behavior during Black Friday. Suggestion #1, don’t go out all all. It would probably be better for you in the long run anyway. Suggestion #2, if you must go out, have a plan on where and when you are going to different stores, what you plan on buying there and stick to it. It is far easier to make it out alive if you know what you are doing. Suggestion #3, don’t be a jerk to your fellow shoppers. If something you want isn’t on the shelves because someone else took the last one, don’t hound or stalk that person until you get it. Move on. Suggestion #4, be kind to the retail personnel. They are just doing their jobs. If they say something is out of stock, it is out of stock. Just move on. A losing altercation with store personnel is not worth your time and they will greatly appreciate it.

All in all, be excellent to each other.


  1. MechaTama31
    MechaTama31 November 24, 2016

    Yeah, in my entire life, I have made exactly one Black Friday excursion, to Half Price Books for some kind of giveaway they were doing for the first 100 customers. As far as I’m concerned, Black Friday (or Black November, as it’s steadily becoming) can just piss off. I’ve got turkey to eat, and friends and family to visit. I’m not going to waste my time with an angry mob slavering over a bunch of knickknacks. Stay strong, retail workers! And I’ll just stay home…

  2. Jon Kole
    Jon Kole November 26, 2016

    I have worked in retail for 8 years now, and have experienced 8 black fridays from an employee’s point of view. I’ve always thought it was an interesting conflict of the best and worst aspects of American culture. Have to say though, despite all the horrors I have seen over the years (15 year-olds punching a 80 year-old for a lap-top was a highlight), it would always bring the employees closer. I suppose it is a sort of “band of brothers” effect of shared conflict, but all the employees that experienced black friday together, and didn’t quit, would always be far closer, more friendly, and act like a sort of family. It also makes you feel like if you survived that you can survive anything. And at least for a little bit nothing seems all that scary or difficult because it doesn’t really compare to what you just survived.

    • MechaTama31
      MechaTama31 November 27, 2016

      So the best you can say about it is that it’s a shared trauma? 😉

      • Jon Kole
        Jon Kole November 28, 2016

        …..AND there is a catered Thanksgiving meal in the break room! Free food is always a win!

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