Black, black, black

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Friday has become a part of our holiday shopping insanity. I have sat at this computer, trying to find just the right word to describe my terrible emotional reaction to this ever-increasing trend. Amazement, astonishment, surprise, shock, stupefaction, incredulity, disbelief, speechlessness, awe, wonder, and downright dumbfounded, are all worthy of the title. Am I wrong and out of date, or do many of you feel the same as I do about this holiday trend?

About 10 years or so ago, I wrote a column detailing my first and last trip to Wal-Mart for the beginning of the Black Friday sale. To give you more perspective, this was back when Wal-Mart was located on the north side of Austin Boulevard.

Back then, the Black Friday sales began early in the morning across the country, most commonly around 6 or 7 a.m. In that story, I related how smart I thought I was to arrive about an hour early for the sale.

To my utter surprise, the parking lot was full, and people were parked in each direction along Austin. There were long lines of customers already standing in the cool, early morning air, to try and gain access to the store and the anticipated bargains.

In that column, I told about my ability to finally gain entrance to the store. Once inside, I was in a maze of people that only a resident of Hong Kong would be familiar with. The traffic jams of people and shopping carts were incredible.

In the end, I managed to somehow escape, and was not the least bit upset that I had not been able to purchase one single bargain basement Christmas sale item on that Black Friday.

Since that day, I have never once even considered trying to attend one of those events. That once in a lifetime experience was enough to permanently stifle any fear I might have of being left behind in my Christmas shopping. To my credit, I have had no difficulty finding all that I need during regular shopping visits to retailers later during the holiday season, or more often than not, I complete much of my shopping online.

The online shopper never has to brave the elements or the crowds. You only have to try and decipher the various websites. That can be a little testy for someone of my age.

Well, leave it to the retailers of the world. They are not going just rely on Friday mornings after Thanksgiving promotions. Now, they are moving the times ahead.

Their first move was to change the starting time to midnight of Thanksgiving. That was done so they could technically proclaim, that they were not violating the spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday. As most of you already know, that was not to be the last time change.

Now, we have stores that are beginning to open their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day. Millions of workers who would normally be off and enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, are now expected to be at work. We aren't talking about just a few people, either. With the frenzy that these sales create, the crowds are enormous, so it is all store hands on deck.

Forget your Thanksgiving dinner and getting together, the economy and Christmas just won't be right if we don't have a huge Black Friday sales boom.

I should not have let myself worry about these changes in sales promotions, but that was not to be the case. The retailers are so frantic to get their share of the Christmas shopping pie, that they have found new ways to "Black Friday" their way into my life.

Each and every day, I receive at least a couple or more items in the mail. They entreat me to take advantage and not miss out on these one of a kind pre-Thanksgiving Black Friday deals. They try to make me feel guilty by using words like, "don't miss out, the supplies are limited," and so on.

It's no wonder the postal service is in trouble, nearly 80 % of what I receive in the mail passes directly into the trash or the shredder, because it is all sales flyers. Since I immediately throw out most of this useless mail, you would think I would be able to finally ignore any reminders about Black Friday, you would think I am safe. Guess again!

Now that I have fully accepted the 21st century, along with a laptop computer and a smart phone, I have opened myself to an entire new world of Black Friday schemes.

Either through email, text, or even Facebook, I am now bombarded each day with multiple new Black Friday sales pitches. There is not a "no call list" for these electronic invasions of my privacy. Once they have you in their databases, you are there for life.

Despite all of these new Black Friday entrepreneurial efforts by the retail world, I have not succumbed to their newfangled methods. My past experience has taught me to resist, and so I shall.

Still, it irks me to no end that our holiday has resorted to such sales practices. It's as if these retailers have discovered that people are addicted to promotional terms and practices involving the words sale and Black Friday.

I know this to be true, because every year there are many people injured during the mad dash into a store during an early morning Black Friday stampede into a store. It's just amazing.

Well, here is my just revenge. I think I'll wait this year until a few days after Christmas. That's when the real bargains can be found. All the leftover goods that Black Friday left behind, can now be found at rock bottom prices. Let's call it "Blue Monday Revenge Day." Has a nice ring doesn't it?