Looking Down on Black Friday

 

On a recent Black Friday, the New York Times asked its readership “What Does Black Friday Mean for You?” A few choice comments revealed the tone of the other 396:

To me it means getting in the car with my spouse and adult daughters and heading to Cape May…Birding! None of us buy into this nonsensical consumer binge day.

Retail stampedes are not my idea of fun. I start Christmas shopping early in the year buying mostly from vacation destinations.

[Thanksgiving] used to be the ONE non-commercialized holiday, all about family, food and tradition. Decades of union busting and capitalistic message crafting later, it’s about shopping, and the mechanism is in place to make it so. We CAN take it back and should!

Black Friday = Uncivilized people crazy on buying cheap plastic stuff from China

I must confess I went to Black Friday once, because I traveled to NC to visit a friend for the Holidays.

You poor dear. Luckily, confession is good for the soul.

As the Times readership proves, Black Friday is the day wealthy whites are applauded for judging lower-class folks who are just trying to buy affordable gifts for their kids.

I hate shopping any day, let alone Black Friday. I have no interest in teeming crowds, midnight sales or much of the merchandise on offer. I do plenty of Christmas shopping each year, but would rather pay a few extra bucks to buy gifts on a slow day or, more likely, online. But I know that not everyone has that luxury.

Many of our progressive friends don’t seem to care. They cheer Walmart strikers, never noticing that the One Percent doesn’t camp out for Black Friday sales. Unions bus in mobs to scream in the faces of lower-middle-class customers, workers and guards. Way to stick it to The Man.

The howling picketers aren’t hurting the Waltons or shareholders, but merely making life more miserable for the have-nots.

The average Black Friday shopper isn’t throwing punches or trampling the infirm. A big chunk of today’s activity won’t even be for gifts, but rather clothes, bedding and appliances for which families can’t pay full retail. And most lower-income folks waiting all night for that PlayStation aren’t doing it because they’re greedy. It’s because they want to put a smile on the face of their child and possibly assuage the guilt that they couldn’t afford one before today.

It’s always a balancing act determining how much money to spend on your kids versus teaching them the limits of consumerism. One week I worry that I’m depriving my kids of time and money and the next worry that I’m smothering them with too much of both. I am confident that I spend less on my kids than most parents in our income bracket. We have no “gaming system” and our ancient tube TV couldn’t hook up to it if we did. Does this make me more righteous than the new Visigoths sacking the electronics aisle or does it just mean I’m a cheapskate? Heck if I know.

Black Friday isn’t for me. Neither is scoffing at the millions who rely on it.
A version of this article was published on a previous Black Friday.
Image via K2 images / Shutterstock.com

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  1. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    Black Friday was always a tradition for my mom, sister and I.  We shopped for each other for Christmas and for the relatives.  Christmas Ever was when my dad, sister and I went shopping.  We LOVED it.  When I worked retail, I even shopped with the family before going into work!

    However, my dad and sister are gone now (to heaven) and I’m away from my mom this year.  So, I went to the mall (had the PsychLynne men drop me off), bought a few presents for screaming good deals, and then went and toasted the memories with a glass of bubbly at a chain restaurant bar.

    All in all, a pretty good day…The pretentious NYT commenters have nothing on my life.

    • #31
  2. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Kay of MT:

    Donald Todd:Kay of MT: #27 “I’ve pretty much shot my wad”

    Actually Kay, that is a man’s phrase and has nothing to do with shopping.

    You’ve got to be joking! I’ve always heard the expression as a “wad” or “roll” of money carried in you pocket. You young whipper-snappers are changing old expressions into so something nasty.

    Actually I am an old whippersnapper.

    • #32
  3. Laconicus Member
    Laconicus
    @

    Black Friday shouldn’t be an occasion for snobby anti-consumerism, but nor should it be above mockery.

    Some people go because they actually enjoy the crowds. As someone who hates crowds though, I feel the same about Black Friday or an NFL game, so I shouldn’t be condemned for poking fun at one over the other.

    • #33
  4. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    EThompson:

    Guruforhire:My wife is going to get the same things she does every year:

    – A new pair of Christian Louboutin heels

    – a charm from Tiffanys.

    Gasp … You must know my husband?!!

    When you find a formula that works……

    • #34
  5. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Guruforhire:

    EThompson:

    Guruforhire:My wife is going to get the same things she does every year:

    – A new pair of Christian Louboutin heels

    – a charm from Tiffanys.

    Gasp … You must know my husband?!!

    When you find a formula that works……

    I am beyond impressed.

    • #35
  6. user_1030767 Inactive
    user_1030767
    @TheQuestion

    Yes.  My progressive Facebook friend is always very busy sharing posts about how bad Black Friday is.  It hadn’t occurred to me until you mentioned it that Black Friday shoppers are not wealthy people.  The contempt that the Left has for actual poor people and the way they live is thinly disguised.

    My family is not a participant in the Black Friday tradition, but the family that we spend many holidays with is.  One of them told us that the stores have taken the fun out of it by opening on Thanksgiving.  So I take it from her that this is not just about greed or consumerism or other leftist bogeymen, but is a real secular tradition, like tailgating at a football game or grilling hamburgers on Independence Day.  Since I’m a conservative, I respect traditions, even ones I don’t participate in.

    • #36
  7. 1967mustangman Inactive
    1967mustangman
    @1967mustangman

    So what the heck do unions have to do with it?  Just asking.  People like getting deals, out side of a very few rich and or idealistic folk price wins out over provenance every time.

    I don’t mind making the rounds.  Fred Meyer has socks for half-off, I got two pairs of Wranglers for $10 a piece, add in a few free polo shirts acquired throughout the year and the occasional fun t-shirt and my shopping for the year is done!  Lets make a deal you go birding and I will get great deals on all sorts or things and we wont tell each other about it.

    • #37
  8. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    1967mustangman:So what the heck do unions have to do with it? Just asking. People like getting deals, out side of a very few rich and or idealistic folk price wins out over provenance every time.

    I don’t mind making the rounds. Fred Meyer has socks for half-off, I got two pairs of Wranglers for $10 a piece, add in a few free polo shirts acquired throughout the year and the occasional fun t-shirt and my shopping for the year is done! Lets make a deal you go birding and I will get great deals on all sorts or things and we wont tell each other about it.

    But … did you make it home in one piece?

    • #38
  9. Big John Member
    Big John
    @AllanRutter

    Our progressive neighbors seem incapable of feeling good about themselves without tearing others down.  Thanks @ExJon for pointing this out.

    Me, I spent the day traveling and with friends–the morning with family with whom we shared Thanksgiving, driving back home mid-day, and driving across town this evening to join many of the same family members in town for their middle son’s high school playoff game (our valiant young man and his team lost the game).

    We drove by shopping centers in our travels today and were glad we were not there, but did not feel the need to criticize the life choices of those joining the shopping, spending throngs.

    • #39
  10. 1967mustangman Inactive
    1967mustangman
    @1967mustangman

    EThompson:

    1967mustangman:So what the heck do unions have to do with it? Just asking. People like getting deals, out side of a very few rich and or idealistic folk price wins out over provenance every time.

    I don’t mind making the rounds. Fred Meyer has socks for half-off, I got two pairs of Wranglers for $10 a piece, add in a few free polo shirts acquired throughout the year and the occasional fun t-shirt and my shopping for the year is done! Lets make a deal you go birding and I will get great deals on all sorts or things and we wont tell each other about it.

    But … did you make it home in one piece?

    I really wasn’t all he bad.  The sock sale was a little bit of a madhouse, but everywhere else was pretty normal.  I guess one of the advantages of not having kids is that I never “have to get that gift”.  Punching someone out over a pair of Goldtoe socks seems a little overboard.

    • #40
  11. user_521196 Member
    user_521196
    @OnlinePark

    I went to Best Buy in Joplin at 11:30 am yesterday (Friday) and there was hardly anyone there. They still made us walk around the long pathway to checkout which was nonsense. The manager was standing there and said she had worked 5pm to 1am Thanksgiving night when it was very busy. This is madness.

    I suppose the hours on Thanksgiving make Black Friday just another shopping day for the rest of us.

    • #41
  12. robertm7575@gmail.com Inactive
    robertm7575@gmail.com
    @RobertMcReynolds

    To me it’s not so much the sales kicking off the Christmas shopping season.  It’s the fact that stores now open on Thanksgiving taking employees away from their families and friends.  It’s the ravenous display as we see year after year of folks assaulting complete strangers for this or that item.  Black Friday has become in recent years the display of what it means to be overrun by the barbarians.

    • #42
  13. Laconicus Member
    Laconicus
    @

    Yeah Robert McReynolds, I saw ads yesterday touting “Black Thursday,” and I thought, ‘Back off you heathens, it is Thanksgiving not Black Thursday!”

    • #43
  14. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    1967mustangman: I guess one of the advantages of not having kids is that I never “have to get that gift”.  Punching someone out over a pair of Goldtoe socks seems a little overboard.

    I hate shopping. But I hate failed shopping trips even more.

    What a waste of time.

    That’s one of the things I hate about the Black Friday spectacle. No guarantee you are going to get what you came for and you have to fight people for the sale.

    Every time there is a “free” ice cream cone with a line around the block at Baskin Robbins, I joke to myself that I would like to walk to the front of the line and ask how much would it cost to bypass the line?

    It’s not free if I have to wait an hour in line for something that costs $4.00 (or whatever).

    But then again, I’m willing to pay more for convenience, which is why I eat fast food rather than cooking for myself, so what do I know? I just place a different value on time/money, I guess. And I get no enjoyment out of shopping.

    • #44
  15. 1967mustangman Inactive
    1967mustangman
    @1967mustangman

    captainpower:

    1967mustangman: I guess one of the advantages of not having kids is that I never “have to get that gift”. Punching someone out over a pair of Goldtoe socks seems a little overboard.

    I hate shopping. But I hate failed shopping trips even more.

    What a waste of time.

    That’s one of the things I hate about the Black Friday spectacle. No guarantee you are going to get what you came for and you have to fight people for the sale.

    Every time there is a “free” ice cream cone with a line around the block at Baskin Robbins, I joke to myself that I would like to walk to the front of the line and ask how much would it cost to bypass the line?

    It’s not free if I have to wait an hour in line for something that costs $4.00 (or whatever).

    But then again, I’m willing to pay more for convenience, which is why I eat fast food rather than cooking for myself, so what do I know? I just place a different value on time/money, I guess. And I get no enjoyment out of shopping.

    Yes but I once waited in line 90 minutes to save $500 on a fridge.  Only time I ever waited a long time in line and since I don’t make $335 and hour it was worth it.  You have to be choosy.

    • #45
  16. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    1967mustangman: Yes but I once waited in line 90 minutes to save $500 on a fridge.  Only time I ever waited a long time in line and since I don’t make $335 and hour it was worth it.  You have to be choosy.

    Is it too late for Black Friday?

    • #46
  17. Contrarian Inactive
    Contrarian
    @Contrarian

    Chris Campion:Dude, no gaming system? You have now diminished both the imaginations and the futures of your children.

    I mean, seriously – what would my life had been like without this?

    Yars-Revenge

    I guess a carrom board doesn’t count as a gaming system then?

    • #47
  18. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    1967mustangman:

    EThompson:

    1967mustangman:So what the heck do unions have to do with it? Just asking. People like getting deals, out side of a very few rich and or idealistic folk price wins out over provenance every time.

    I don’t mind making the rounds. Fred Meyer has socks for half-off, I got two pairs of Wranglers for $10 a piece, add in a few free polo shirts acquired throughout the year and the occasional fun t-shirt and my shopping for the year is done! Lets make a deal you go birding and I will get great deals on all sorts or things and we wont tell each other about it.

    But … did you make it home in one piece?

    I really wasn’t all he bad. The sock sale was a little bit of a madhouse, but everywhere else was pretty normal. I guess one of the advantages of not having kids is that I never “have to get that gift”. Punching someone out over a pair of Goldtoe socks seems a little overboard.

    Glad to hear you didn’t get socked over socks! :)

    • #48
  19. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    I spent part of Thanksgiving evening at West Acres mall in Fargo, ND. It was 10 PM, and the walk from the car to the mall entrance would have made Shackleford wince:  two below outside with a spiteful wind blowing snow down your collar. Your eyes bled tears. You wish you’d worn gloves, but heck you were almost there.

    Inside: carnival. Noise, laughter, excitement, music, crowds, gaggles of teens, stolid strolling dads. Cinnamon scents in the air. I went to the food court and ordered a coffee and sat at a table, waiting for wife and child. The table behind me was spattered with frosting. An old lady was cleaning another empty table.

    “If you want to lift up your cup there I’ll give you a clean table,” she said. Her name tag said CAROL.

    I said that would be fine and thank you, and good luck with that table over there; looks like someone can’t have a Cinnabon without getting the goo everywhere.

    “That’s what I’m here for,” she smiled, and you could read old Mom messages in her grin – rote rueful dismay over the mess,  and a certain pleasure in making everything right again. I don’t know if she took the hours because she needed the money or because it was something to do or because it let one of the younger kids spend time with her family, or all of the above. But I had the feeling that when she looked out over the busy room at all the people making messes and laughing and chatting, she might have thought it’s better than being alone and it’s good to be useful.

    This was the same coffee kiosk where the young girl who made my coffee a few weeks ago said “okey-dokey!” and meant it. Fargo is a hard place in the cold times but the people are decent. No small accomplishment, that.

    • #49
  20. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    I despise Black Friday as much as they do, though for different reasons (mainly on traditionalism grounds). And I absolutely loathe the new push to shop on Thanksgiving. This is one area where I hate insatiable capitalism too. The market is not my god, and I wont sacrifice everything to it.

    • #50
  21. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Every year I always hear about the people fighting over the last must-have gift, brawls in the toy aisle, blood on the floor. Yet I’ve never known anyone who actually witnessed such events. Surely they happen, because inevitably someone captures it on their cell-phone cameras and uploads it so we can all gloat. “I thank you God that I am not like those people, shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving, or worse, on Thanksgiving itself. No, I thank you God that I wait until Saturday, like a good person should.”

    Because what’s better than that feeling of self-righteousness one gets when witnessing the failings of others?

    But sometimes I wonder if the badness of “Black Friday” is overstated (because as I say, I’ve never known anyone who actually witnessed a store brawl). And possibly overstated on purpose.

    Wonder what that purpose might be.

    • #51
  22. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Contrarian:I guess a carrom board doesn’t count as a gaming system then?

    Surely you mean Crokinole!

    • #52
  23. Julia PA Inactive
    Julia PA
    @JulesPA

    James Lileks:I spent part of Thanksgiving evening at West Acres mall in Fargo, ND. It was 10 PM, and the walk from the car to the mall entrance would have made Shackleford wince: two below outside with a spiteful wind blowing snow down your collar. Your eyes bled tears. You wish you’d worn gloves, but heck you were almost there.

    Inside: carnival. Noise, laughter, excitement, music, crowds, gaggles of teens, stolid strolling dads. Cinnamon scents in the air. I went to the food court and ordered a coffee and sat at a table, waiting for wife and child. The table behind me was spattered with frosting. An old lady was cleaning another empty table.

    “If you want to lift up your cup there I’ll give you a clean table,” she said. Her name tag said CAROL.

    I said that would be fine and thank you, and good luck with that table over there; looks like someone can’t have a Cinnabon without getting the goo everywhere.

    “That’s what I’m here for,” she smiled, and you could read old Mom messages in her grin – rote rueful dismay over the mess, and a certain pleasure in making everything right again. I don’t know if she took the hours because she needed the money or because it was something to do or because it let one of the younger kids spend time with her family, or all of the above. But I had the feeling that when she looked out over the busy room at all the people making messes and laughing and chatting, she might have thought it’s better than being alone and it’s good to be useful.

    This was the same coffee kiosk where the young girl who made my coffee a few weeks ago said “okey-dokey!” and meant it. Fargo is a hard place in the cold times but the people are decent. No small accomplishment, that.

    That is a great story.

    • #53
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