Tomorrow marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season…or at least it DID in years past. This year a number of retailers are encroaching on the holidays by sparking the Black Friday frenzy on Thanksgiving night, thereby cutting into what should be time off from the insanity. But that’s another discussion for someone else’s blog.
I myself have never participated in Black Friday. There isn’t a sweater or a microwave that I need so desperately that I am willing to risk life and limb to acquire, particularly when both are guaranteed to be rendered obsolete by the same time next year. This year, to my dismay, I discovered that I have been thrust into the melee upon pain of losing my job. You see Reader, I am a lowly retail associate at DSW.
Historically I have been able to avoid the zoo that is Black Friday by staying home. I timed my last two pregnancies (okay who am I kidding; none of them was timed, but rather a fortunate coincidence) so that I was still on maternity leave for the holidays. Last year I was in New York for the season, and I told my boss that I simply would not be here. I tried this same tactic with my current manager, and her tart reply was something akin to “Well then you will simply never be on the schedule again.”
I am a shoe addict, a shoe whore if you will, and I value my discount. I need this job, and since my womb is now a tomb for sperm and serves little more than a warm wet place for them to go and DIE, there is no chance that I can use the gestational illness/morning sickness/anything related to pregnancy excuse to get off work. I must face the dreaded dragon head on.
There are a number of people out there, who just like me, will experience Black Friday for the first time. Like any first time experience, you can either make it happen on let it happen to you. Black Friday is not for chumps. I suggest you plan thoroughly before you engage this event. Seasoned Black Friday shoppers are a rabid bunch, many of whom I am convinced are among the clinically insane. There is nothing in a regular person’s DNA that says it is rational to sit outside in frigid temperatures with nothing but the promise of getting an LCD TV for $199 to keep you warm. How often will you really watch that TV?!? I digress. The passion has overtaken me.
If you want to survive and conquer Black Friday dear Reader, you have to undergo some training, and there is scant time to do so. It starts in just a few hours. Here are some tips to get you through those hours.
- Practice your mean mug: You are not permitted to smile at other customers. These customers are your enemy. Smiling makes you look weak, and this is certainly no time of the year to exude humility and cheer is it?
- Channel your inner Santa: Make a list and check it twice. Make a list of everything you want to buy, get in the store and get out. Black Friday is no time for browsing. Trust me on this one.
- For Heaven’s sake, do your research!: Research everything online before you set foot in any store. Some stores will only carry one high value item and trick customers by leading them to believe that there are enough of them in stock to satisfy the populace. This is the Golden Ticket effect. They want you to go out and buy as many Wonka Bars as you can before you strike gold. Know the retailers that have EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR before you set foot in their nutty marketing enclosure.
- Know your zones: This is by far the most important. It is imperative that you know the layout of the store before you venture in. You are going to WAR. You have to know the enemy’s camp better than the enemy! If you’re looking for blenders, please don’t idle away precious time in the electronics area. Go directly to housewares! And beware: Many retailers will place ‘hot’ items (things they want to get rid of) in risers and rolling shelves in the aisle to entice you. Don’t be charmed. Get what you came for in the designated zone and THEN come back for the carrot.
- Think like a bull frog: Don’t be intimidated. You have to own your space. If someone is trying to get into your 10 inches (you’re not allowed 18 on Black Friday), you widen your stance, plant your feet, and refer to tip one. On Black Friday, only the crazy buzzard gets the carcass. You have to be crazier than the next bird. Peck at her if you feel the need. That’ll get her out of your space.
Okay Reader. Good luck. I’ll be watching all of you from afar, picking up the trash and tepid half-empty Starbucks cups that you ALWAYS leave behind after the cyclone has passed. Oh, and one last thing: leave your kids at home. Bringing children out on Black Friday is a win for absolutely no one. Besides, they will only slow you down. It’s war, remember?