Ah, Black Friday, sweet Black Friday… There’s nothing quite as satisfying as waiting in a line for five hours at Best Buy to save a whole $15 on a $1,200 55-inch Plasma TV or to be one of the first in the nation to grab a talking Tickle Me Dumbass at Toys R Us.
But as anyone who has ever accessed the Worldwide Webbie knows, almost anything one wants or needs is likely to be available online at the same cost, often with free shipping. Why, oh, why does anyone think it’s fun or sporting to join such an absurd “tradition”? I just don’t get it.
Here in Lynchburg, where I spent Thanksgiving, I ventured out to Walmart on Black Friday at 3 p.m. Mind you, local Walmarts opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Thursday… so by the time I arrived, the joint was as empty as an average Monday morning.
Meanwhile, shopping is always a heavenly pursuit in Central Virginia, where bargains abound—and since I now travel by Amtrak, I can load up with cheap goods to take back to NYC without worrying about silly airline regs about liquid, weight and the rest of the bunk.
My stopovers: Kohl’s (fab new sleeper britches for $10, Walgreens, Ollie’s Emporium, Dollar General (more fab than the average low-rent “dollar store”) and Bed Bath & Beyond. That’s it… Over the course a week, I found all the practical items I could want at bargain prices. Oh, sweet heaven. In my world, you see, finding deodorant for half the price in NYC makes me mighty giddy.
And yet there were still hundreds of thousands of foolhardy grown-ups who bought into the hype that hitting the stores at dawn (or before) on Black Friday was a worthy pursuit. There were nearly 308 million store visits on Black Friday this year, a 3.5% increase from last year—but sales were down 1.8% to $11.2 billion, according to a ShopperTrak analysis.
Consider the following: A man in Massachusetts left his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son in the car while he went shopping for a new 51-inch TV. Store security saw the boy sleeping in the car, forced their way in, and took the tyke to the hospital as a precaution. When the dumbass returned to the car and saw the boy was gone, he panicked and called for another ride home. He’s now facing reckless endangerment to a child charges. But boy, that HDTV is going to be beautiful… once he’s out of jail.
Two men in San Antonio got into a fight at a Sears about line-cutting, as the alleged line-cutter punched another shopper. Someone then pulled a gun on the asswipe. Fortunately, the gun-toter had a concealed weapons license, so walked out free as a bird. Ain’t that America something to see?!
In Maryland, a 14-year-old boy was robbed as he was leaving Bed Bath & Beyond after shopping post-midnight in a mall. The Baltimore Sun: “The suspects, who the boy described as (five) 17 to 21 wearing black North Face jackets and jeans…” Sure enough, as I’ve stated time and again, the scariest human beings on this earth are teen-agers.
Then there’s the couple in Covington, Wash.,, who got run down by a 71-year old man in an SUV while heading into Walmart just after 8 p.m. The driver was arrested for vehicular assault, although it’s suspected that he was loaded during the incident. Let’s be honest: Getting drunk to shop on Black Friday sounds like a damn good idea to me. Lynchburg, Va.: Ain’t nothing going on here but the rent.