The Random Writings of Rachel: Why I Love Black Friday

Why I Love Black Friday

'Tis the season...for lots of people to be excited about shopping and sales and on the other side, lots of people to complain about materialism and consumerism.

So I'm staking my claim in the ground and letting you know: I love Black Friday, and I love it for some of the same reasons that people wish it never existed.

2012 - Our last Christmas in our little yellow home, though we had no idea of that at the time. Some presents were definitely bought during Black Friday, like a headlamp that wasn't on sale but was perfect for my Angel. He still uses it.

My Black Friday memories involve waking up in the wee hours, bundling up for icy weather, and heading out with my parents and/or aunt in the van. Our typical stops included Kohl's, JoAnn's, Family Christian Bookstore, J.C. Penney's, or Target, depending on the list and what we were looking for that year. We'd proceed to shop until we'd finished our list as efficiently as possible and had found ourselves starving. Then we'd grab breakfast at a fast food joint and head back to my grandparents' house for Thanksgiving leftovers and other frivolity. Later, towards noon, we'd go to the annual arts and crafts show that happens every Black Friday near their house, and I'd fall in love with things like bracelets made out of forks. It was so much fun, and on years when I don't get to go Black Friday shopping, like this year and last year, I miss the experience. Granted, you have to actually like shopping to enjoy Black Friday, but I do like shopping, so that's why I have always found Black Friday to be an exciting adventure.

It probably also helps that it's not like we're trying to shop in a gigantic city. Flint, MI isn't a huge, bustling metropolis. The last few years, all the Black Friday sales and lines actually felt rather calm and laid back in comparison to the years before that.

People often claim that Black Friday shopping steals family time, but as far as I'm concerned, the hours between 12-8 p.m. would otherwise be spent sleeping, so Black Friday only means more family time for us. Angel always worked either Thanksgiving or Black Friday at the hospital while I traveled to spend the holiday with relatives a couple hours away, so I would have been sleeping alone anyways--might as well not sleep, right? We also tend to meet and start chatting with other folks waiting in the long lines and share grins over varied good deals and tips on where to find specific items, so it almost feels like a community event or party.

I think sometimes people are a little too quick to cry "consumerism" and lament over the irony of shopping immediately after being grateful for all we have, because, honestly, Black Friday prices are something to be thankful for, as they make needed items much more affordable than they generally are.

One year, our entire Black Friday shopping list consisted of undergarments and jeans. If you've ever talked to an American who lives in our part of the world, you've doubtless heard complaints about how impossible it is, when living here, to find undergarments and jeans that are 1) affordable and 2) of decent quality and 3) sized to fit typical American bodies. My parents still had 5 daughters at home at the time, so you can imagine that buying something that usually runs $35 each for $8 instead was an alluring deal (multiply that original price by 2 or 3 pieces for each lady of the family and you'll get heart palpitations). The "little girls" who run 5'7" and 5'8" can't find jeans actually long enough to be jeans in this country, so getting pants that covered their ankles at 50% off was amazing! My parents even picked up discounted clothes for my brother, because clothes for men of his intimidating stature are never cheap, and his college-student budget means he'll wear clothes with holes in them rather than buy new ones on his own. Sometimes Black Friday is a little less about materialism and a little more about a chance to wear clothes that fit appropriately and won't fall apart in the wash. Another time, we bought a couple of the infamous dirt-cheap Jansport backpacks from Kohl's to bring back here to some friends who Christmas wish had been a sturdy bag (Angel bought a work bag here back in July and it's already disintegrated so much that it's gone in the garbage. He's now using the Jansport backpack I bought for college and carried with me every day of school. They may be cheap, and I know they aren't top-notch backpacks, but they are miles better than what's available at our price range here).

If I'm ever in the USA for Thanksgiving again, I plan to go Black Friday shopping (and a mere 16 months abroad has taught me exactly what supplies I'd stock up on!).

As the day approaches, I thank all those who are working on that day, and I wish that your customers will be of the happy sort and not the sort who should have stayed in bed a few more hours. But even if you end up with a few battle stories of the crazy folks, that's okay. Boring stories never made for good conversation...or good blog posts. Happy shopping if you're going, happy sleeping if you're not!

14 comments:

  1. Seems like a perfectly reasonable, memorable way to look at Black Friday! It actually sounds pretty fun to get bundled up early, go shopping and dining with relatives, and still have part of the day to kick back.

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  2. yes! I love black friday. while we were fostering, I would buy underwear and pajamas in all sizes so when kids came with nothing they would have brand new stuff to bring home for themselves!

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  3. Those are all completely valid reasons for loving Black Friday. My only complaint is when stores open Thanksgiving evening.

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  4. This post was really insightful, Rachel. I've always found Black Friday ironic, much like many others, but now I see how it can be a fun family bonding experience with practical implications. I prefer to stay home for the most part, unless I know that something I'm sure to use often will be deeply discounted (I think shopping can be fun, but I really dislike big crowds!) Anyways, way to prompt us to consider the other side. And absolutely such a big hand to those who will be working then--retail is so draining normally, but all the more so on crazy busy holidays!

    imperfect idealist

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  5. I completely agree with all of this. :)

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  6. I think people's issue is not necessarily that it's late-night shopping but that Black Friday has moved earlier and earlier so that now stores are opening at 6 or 7 on Thursday, and hence employees have to miss out on their own family time to work and people are sometimes more worried about hitting sales than sitting around the dinner table together. I mean, people are known to camp out outside a store for the entire day before! As far as sales themselves, if we all had your attitude about buying things you need for cheap, you're right that it's something to be thankful for. But when people are trampling each other and getting into fights over a flat-screen TV, there's a problem. I'm not necessarily against Black Friday, but those are a few things to consider about why people aren't fans. I think I wish stores just all opened at midnight like they used to. There's so much competition to have the best and biggest sale, and i do think in some ways it spills into family time at Thanksgiving. But I do also totally see your point about why you like it!

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  7. Haha I love how you take something I typically despise and turn it into something happy and all lovey-family-time-community-yum-yum. You have a perception to life that I find so positive and uplifting, you can even make this Black Friday Scrooge smile. I love that you and your fam make it a big deal each year and spend that time together, having fun, scoring deals and the like. I think that's the way Black Friday was originally designed - to be a good experience for everyone. I hope you get some awesome deals this Friday!! Happy Thanksgiving Rach! :)

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  8. Interesting perspective about being grateful for the sale prices! I tend to be one of those that cries consumerism--and I also don't LOVE shopping--I like picking up the things I need--a bit quickly--which doesn't happen on Black Friday! :)

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  9. I too love black Friday shopping! Try to pick up good deals for the Christmas kiddos we always sponsor and getting clothes at a steal is never a bad bargain either.

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  10. Love this!! My Mom and sister and I have similar traditions, but its more about spending the time together vs. spending the money:) Hope you have another Balck Friday here soon:)

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  11. hehehe, you raise a good point there! I went Black Friday shopping with my brother once and he made me babysit the cart while he got everything he wanted (...). I solemnly vowed never to go again with him, haha. I'm glad your family made it a family affair to go! The deals that can be scored are pretty awesome, especially when you rarely ever go out to buy things!

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  12. Growing up, we had this tradition of going out very early on Friday morning with my cousins and grandma. It was SO much fun since we didn't get to spend that much time with our extended family (they lived several hours away). Those crazy mornings running around finding great deals are still some of my favorite holiday memories! As my sister and I have gotten older, we haven't been out with all of them, but she, my mom, and I will occasionally go out for part of Black Friday. Even if we don't buy anything, it's fun to be a part of the hustle and bustle!

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  13. I've only ever done crazy middle of the night Black Friday shopping once, and that was with my sisters-in-laws (who are big into it). Mostly, my siblings and I go to the mall mid-morning, after all the crazies, and get good deals on clothes and accessories, then have lunch in the food court.

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  14. We used to do the Black Friday thing for fun--the thrill of the hunt, and all that. Now I sit at home in my comfy clothes and get the same deals online on Friday morning. I'll go to work later, but since I work specialty retail, I am hoping we won't be terribly busy.

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