Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday 2013

It probably goes without blogging that I won’t be doing any shopping on Black Friday.

Yes, I have pretty much finished my Xmas shopping anyway.

And, no, there was not one electronic anything on my list. (I checked twice, just to make sure.)

But it’s not that I don’t “need’ any electronics.

My two-year old last-Blackberry-in-existence is on its last legs, I’m afraid, so I’m dickering about whether to just wave the white flag and get an iPhone, or get myself an Android device.

I’ve had a tablet on my shopping bucket list for a couple of years now, but again there’s that dickering between an iPad and an anything-else-pad.

(I could, of course, put off the tablet decision further by commandeering the Kindle my husband bought a couple of months go. What was he thinking? The man doesn’t even own a cell phone. Is he really going to start reading from a Kindle?)

And we could use a flat-screen to replace the tubby-tube in the den.

But I don’t need anything that badly that I’d stand in line in the cold for hours on end, and risk getting trampled in a consumer stampede, to save a couple of hundred bucks.

For some folks, however, The Most Wonderful Time of Year means more than just Salvation Army bell-ringers, ribbon candy, and those annoying Lexus-with-the-big-red-bow ads. It means camping out at what ever big box store’s got big Black Friday bargains on offer.

In Akron, Ohio, the place to be is, apparently, Best Buy, where last Monday – that would be November 18th – the first happy campers showed up.

They’re waiting in comfort, with tents rigged with generators, flat-screen TVs, microwaves, heaters and mattresses. (Source: NY Daily News)

The rules of the game are that a) the tent must be occupied by someone – but not necessarily the same someone – or you lose your place; and b) when the doors open, each tent can have ten shoppers associated with it.

Ah, yes, just a short century and change ago, pioneering Americans raced their Conestoga wagons to stake their claims for a few acres in the Oklahoma Land Rush, lived in sod huts, got visited by plagues of grasshoppers, and wore the same pair or shoes and shirt for life. And if their kids were really, really lucky, they got a horehound drop and a walnut for Christmas.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen into the glittering trap of consumer electronics.

But, as Tony Avitar, who has been gone Black Friday camping in Akron for eleven years, has it. It’s all worth it:

"Originally, I started because you know I have five kids, and when you're on a limited income, or even not a limited income, you want to be able to get them nice presents instead of getting them like some crappy toy," Avitar said, adding that he and his pals would have Thanksgiving dinner in the tents.

Yes, what kid wants to find a crappy toy like a Raggedy Ann Doll, a Tonka Truck, or a Parcheesi game under the tree, when what they really want is an XBox.

That’s sure worth dad spending two weeks in a tent for.

I was thinking that, if folks just went to work for those two weeks, they’d make enough to pay full price for their electronics. But it turns out Avitar is a sound engineer who doesn’t work a regular nine-to-five, and this is a slow time of year for rock shows in Akron, so, he’s good to chill in his tent.

And, as it turns out, it’s not just about the shopping experience:

"Then it kind of became a family tradition my kids started coming down and it became a bonding experience with me and the kids." (Source: Huff Po)

I bonded with my father listening to the Red Sox on the radio, at Holy Cross football games, raking leaves, and going with him to the dump.

Bonding has certainly taken on a new dimension.

But, as Madonna told us oh so long ago now, we live in a material world.

On Akron camper has a “tactical battle plan” for scoring “that Samsung 65-inch television baby”:

“This is where the cold weather training in the Air Force comes in handy because it got cold last night!”

The few, the proud, the Black Friday shoppers!

Meanwhile, it’s not clear you get what you camp for:

…consumer research groups caution shoppers to be savvy about how they shop. Just because a retailer claims it has discounted an item, doesn't mean customers are actually getting a bargain, they warn.

“Retailers also trick consumers on Black Friday into falling for bad deals with misleading original prices, knockoff deals, and rebates,” research group Nerd Wallet warns. “Shoppers who skip the Black Friday lines, then, might not be missing much. There’s a strong chance they’ll see the same items at the same prices for Black Friday next year.”

Caveat, campers!

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