Facing “Black Friday” For The First Time

I trust everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Hopefully, light on the food and heavy on the shopping.

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that Thanksgiving has become as much about the shopping as it has about giving thanks. “Black Friday” deals and sales getting more air time than turkey cooking tips and how to make stuffing for a dozen guests.

I have always tried to avoid the whole “Black Friday” mess. I have never shopped on that Friday and go out of my way to avoid any roads that might cross the path of a mall fearing that I might get stuck in traffic and be unable to go where I really want to the day after Thanksgiving: The Pitt-West Virginia game.

Well this year I decided to do something different. I chose to experience the whole shopping scene on this day after Turkey day. I actually went to a mall and went shopping on “Black Friday”, Mind you, I was not out shopping for family. Usually, I do that days afterwards when I can take my time and find what I’m looking for without crowds. No, I decided to brave the crowds and just see what this event wa all about and see if I could actually shop without going crazy.

My “Black Friday” introduction would be at Ross Park Mall on McKnight road in the North Hills. You know that road has already earned the reputation of “McKnight-mare” for its incessant traffic jams and slow-moving traffic. On this Friday, though, it wasn’t that bad. It was about 11am and I started to think, this “Black Friday” thing doesn’t seem so bad. Then, I pulled into the mall.


No, it wasn’t this bad when I arrived at the mall, but “Black Friday” shopping can be just as crazy and insane in the middle of the day ( Courtesy: AP Photo )

There was not  parking space to be found. Cars filled just about every space and I saw cars parked up on the grass and even doubled parked by the side of the road. It took me ten minutes of wheeling around before I found a spot at a furniture store across from the mall.

Once parked, I took a nice three minute walk to Macy’s … and inside, it looked as if they were having a “Going out of business” sale. There were people everywhere! Their hands, filled with shopping bags full of stuff and still shopping for more. It seemed this was the case throughout the mall. Every store had more than its usual share of customers. The majority of the shoppers were female, but there were a few of us guys in there. However, male or female, one thing was clear: they were not there to browse. You have never seen people so focused.

It seemed as if these shoppers were on a mission, Coupons and shopping lists in one hand, cell phone in the other. This was one of those days I felt compelled to just step back and not get into anyone’s way. Then, there was the food court, which was filled with people who looked tired ragged from their shopping marathon. Either that, or they were taking a pause to map out their next move.

As for me? Well, I made my way to some of the newer stores in the mall to see what all the fuss was about. I walked in Nordstrom’s figuring to see much of the same madness. To my surprise, the store was far from full. There were no crowds in any of the departments. I walked through the men’s section and saw they had slashed winter coats by 60% to prices I had seen at other places so I bought one. Got quite the deal, too. As I checked out, I asked the salesman while things seemed so calm in his store as compared t the rest of the mall. He said because they don’t advertise big sales and deep discounts like the other stores … and then reminded me of their big men’s sale after Christmas.

Making my way back to Macy’s, I did need to pick up a dress shirt and figured I could get a bargain, if they still had my size. Lucky me, a 17.5/36 dress shirt. However, my luck ran out as I went to pay for it. I waited … and waited … and waited. It must have been 15 minutes before I finally paid for my item.

Finally, as I made my way back to my car, I cannot tell you how many people were following behind me in their cars. All hoping I was going to be leaving my space which they must have thought was near the store. Sorry to disappoint all of them, but I went back to the furthest spot from the mall … and drove home.

In all, I spent less than $300. Hardly enough to boost the economy from the doldrums of recession but it was my contribution on this “Black Friday”. I guess now I can understand whys o many shop so early and so long on this day. They are searching for deals … and I guess I would be too, if there was something I really wanted … or someone I was shopping for.

Now that I haven experienced “Black Friday”, I think I will pass on it in the future. I figure there are always going to be deals … and there is always going to be product. Plus, I have a home computer and maybe cyber Monday is more my speed.

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