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Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Black Friday experience

I don’t think the big parking lot at Wilson Mills Road and Alpha Drive has hosted that many cars since Phil Donahue played the Front Row.
It might have held many more in years past, but this was my first venture into Black Friday, and it was the most I’d ever seen there.
I had never joined the shopping masses on the day after Thanksgiving for two reasons: 1) I never wanted a product so badly that I was willing to wait outside the store for hours on end to get a good spot in line; 2) When we finish updating our website and put the paper to bed for the night, it’s just late enough that the lines are already long, but also too early to wait around for a few hours for the stores to open.
Then Kohl’s announced it was opening at 3 a.m. this year. Even though other stores had opened earlier in the past, this for me was the year when Black Friday became Black Late Thursday Night. I decided to check it out just to see what it was like.
The parking lot was full back to Denny’s.  As I was walking in the store, there were already people walking out with their purchases. Those people must have really known what they were doing.
That part I underestimated, because I thought it would take a little while for the checkout line to form while people shopped. While I was walking through the store, I noticed a few people about halfway back just kind of standing there. I thought it was odd that they weren’t doing anything. Then I realized, “Oh, that’s the line!” Then I looked another 20 feet back and realized “Oh, wait. THAT’S the line!” Then I walked to the back of the store, saw even more people wrapped around the corner and wondered if the line ended.
In fact, it did. Normally, I would have put my selections back and returned another day. But I was there, and I decided to see it through. It ended up being about 45 minutes.
Oddly, the wait wasn’t as bad as you’d think. This was the anti-post office line. Everyone was remarkably calm and patient. No angry outbursts or long sighs. Perhaps it was because people knew what they were getting into. Perhaps it was the mood music playing overhead and the cheerful employees passing out candy. Perhaps it was because it was 3:45 a.m., and everyone was either half-awake or half-asleep, depending on if it was a late night or early morning for them, and they just didn’t have the energy.
I doubt I’ll be an early morning Black Friday shopper again – I still don’t need anything that badly. But it was it was fun to try once to see what it was like.
- Howard Primer

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