Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a multitude of reasons: food, fellowship and Friday, black Friday. While this year’s Thanksgiving was quiet, I did make the most of the four-day weekend. Growing up with a shopaholic meant I spent many hours bored in department and discount stores while my mother scoured racks for clearance deals. My mother loved to tell people how much my outfits cost. This was back in the 80’s and 90’s when department stores had huge discounts on merchandise. I don’t know what changed but there aren’t discounts galore anymore. The ability to brag that an entire outfit including shoes cost less than $40 has diminished. I actually hated Black Friday. Waking up at 6 a.m. to shop until noon wasn’t my thing. However, something changed when I spent my first Thanksgiving in Maryland. I didn’t like it and I decided to shake the blues of being away from “home” by shopping. So I marched myself to WalMart at the crack of dawn and got a lovely $99 top of the line sewing machine and a $39 portable DVD player. And then headed to Sears for my first digital camera. Hilariously, I use none of these things currently. My sewing ability is limited to hemming garments though I keep saying I will take sewing lessons. The DVD player was used for exactly two bus trips to NYC before I determined it to be more of a nuisance (because I prefer to limit myself to one bag). I dropped the camera in a fountain in Vegas and it never recovered.
Black Friday is very controversial. My name brand devotees despise anything but the best so scoff at most doorbusters. I am not an electronic brand junkie. If the best television costs $800 and the second best costs $600, I will be buying the $600 one and spending the $200 for entertainment money. I prefer experiences to things. However, occasionally the best technology does go on sale on Black Friday (rarely and usually at deadly Wal-Mart, which has just devolved into chaos). Ultimately, I stick to household items, clothing and appliances. I know that there are actual deals to be had and I learned to love the thrill of getting a great deal.
Now, I have set rules for Black Friday shopping:
- No off-brands. I owned an Apex CRT television years ago that never worked and I returned it twice! This was difficult because it was a CRT and I had no upper body strength
- No Best Buy ever. People camp out and I don’t wait in line. Also, it takes forever to check out. I actually waited in line for 45 minutes without moving once before giving up. Occasionally, I go later in the morning and get the deals that the masses didn’t care about.
- Never wait in line. Yep, I arrive about 10 -15 minutes before opening, queue up and enter when the doors open. Placement in line rarely leads to the good items as you just need to be rather quick
- Know what things cost. Not everything is a deal. Some stores, mostly clothing stores, marked things 40% off but raise the original price so it’s really only 25% off
- So, understand trends. Some stores also have a 40% off sale on Black Friday, but make everything 60% off the weekend before Christmas. Sometimes the converse is true. I swear by leather cashmere-lined gloves which go for $80-90 dollars. On Black Friday, they are $30 and they never went lower than $40 all winter. The next year, I knew to buy more on Black Friday
- No fighting. I think this should go without saying
- Scope out the store prior to the sale. Some stores stock the merchandise the week of Black Friday and you can get good surveillance. If I know that there are only 20 crock pots, I will head for those first versus the 500 pajamas. This also helps when items are in weird places. Target once hid automatic wine openers on the top shelf and no one could find them. I knew where they were and got multiples for gifts one year. They were a hit
After all of that shopping, I treated myself to the Faith Evans concert. Despite my numerous times at the Howard Theater, I have never eaten there. I always eat before going anywhere, even meeting people for dinner. This is for self preservation. I understand the food wasn’t good, but the show was awesome. Faith, sang her face off, as the old folks say, and was so energetic. She also had the best, happiest backing band that I have seen in an extremely long time. I saw her a few years ago at For Sisters Only, which never looks right in the new Convention Center, and she was okay. I reckoned that maybe I should have seen her in her prime and shrugged it off. I actually tried once when I first moved to D.C. and the show was cancelled. That incident leads to one of my best stories of how I once spoke to the Vice President of Ticketmaster. Back to Faith, boy was I wrong. Maybe the venue, time and event didn’t lead to a good show at the Convention Center, but we definitely got the best of her last Friday. I left in awe or should I say with Tears of Joy. Too corny. Oh, okay.