Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Midnight Madness is CRAZY!

11/28/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Oy! Shopping has sure changed. Halloween was once just a day of costumes and trick or treating. Now it looks like a national holiday when aisles of decorations and costumes are unveiled in September. Supplies and decor for Thanksgiving (a true national holiday) are now available in mid-October.

So why am I always surprised that the hype for Christmas shopping begins in early November? Because I think it’s ridiculous, that’s why. Come on, shop keepers! Just let me enjoy a time of Thanksgiving before you start shoving Christmas cards, trees, ornaments, poinsettias and glitter down my throat. I don’t want to think about Christmas gift lists, baking and travel until I’ve eaten turkey and pumpkin pie and reflected on my blessings.

In early November I awoke to a Valley River Center radio announcement that said, “IMAGINE…all your shopping done before the sun comes up-now that’s insane. Stores open at midnight Thanksgiving night…and will be offering the craziest deals of the year.” Well, in my opinion, the idea of shopping all night is crazy.

I remember the first time I heard a Black Friday announcement. I thought the advertisers had gotten their holidays mixed up. Good Friday. Black Friday. I was confused. One day is a Holy Holiday and the other is gaudy greed.

Black Friday (so named because it’s the first day of the year that merchants turn a profit) is all about bargain shopping—at midnight. Now I’m a shopper and I love a bargain, I just don’t like bargain hunting between midnight and 7 a.m.—not even extreme bargains. That’s when most of us sleep. I need daylight to think straight.

Shoppers know that bargains are always available somewhere. Let’s say your husband needs a new sports coat. Stores A and B don’t have what you want. So you end up at a Macy’s One-Day Sale. They have the perfect $250 Ralph Lauren coat on sale for $99 and it’s marked down to $79 with a $20 off coupon. Now that’s a bargain. And you can purchase it in broad daylight without standing outside the store with hordes of frantic shoppers in the pouring rain!

Nevertheless, being the open-minded journalist that I am, I Googled some of the items being offered on Black Friday. If I had stayed up all night Thanksgiving and into the wee hours the next day, I could have run around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, getting substantial discounts at any of my favorite haunts from J.C. Penny’s in Eugene to Kohl’s in Springfield.

I will reluctantly concede that if you have electronics or children’s gifts to buy, Black Friday is probably the time to get great bargains at Best Buy, Sears, Kmart, Toys-R-Us, Walmart and Target. I checked out some of their online ads and their Door Buster prices were impressive. Of course, most of the prices were good for only 24-48 hours and subject to stock on hand.

Target’s doors were opening at 9 p.m. turkey day and they were offering a $99 Nook Simple Touch for only $49.00; a Polaroid 19” LED/DVD TV for $109.99 and you could save $100 on a Nikon digital camera. WalMart’s most impressive deals were TVs ranging from 19” to 50” in size and starting as low as $78. Sears had a 50% savings on Craftsman 18-volt drill and you could get 75% off plus an extra 20% off on selected jewelry.

It all sounds so tempting until you hear the horror stories about the mob scenes. I read about a lady who practiced “competitive shopping” with pepper spray in a crowd at a Los Angeles WalMart. She reportedly injured more than 20 people just to be sure she could obtain a video game console. Too scary for me.

I’m also too lazy to slosh around in the rain when I could be eating pumpkin pie in front of the fireplace in my slippers. Heck, after dessert, I don’t even want to go online to shop. And at this stage of the game, I wouldn’t know what I was looking for. My grandsons are still in school. They aren’t even thinking about Christmas yet.

To be a Black Friday competitive shopper you must meet three criteria and I fail in all areas.

Number one: A shopping list. If you have a list in Nov., I’m impressed. If you don’t, do not leave the house. Kids are fickle. Advertising is just beginning for the hottest toys of the season. I never knew what my kids wanted until mid-Dec. My husband was in the toy business for 10 years and he was even surprised when a new Elmo burst on the scene late in the season. So leave room to wiggle.

Number two: You need a budget. The hardest thing that I do is figure out how to spend the same amount of money (give or take a few dollars) on the same number of gifts for each grandson. Sheesh. It takes an accountant to bring equality to gifting for ages 10 to 22. 

Number three is this question: do you have the energy to shop all night long? I don’t. I never did and I never will. That’s why I’ll never go. However, I must admit that I enjoy hearing the war stories that shoppers have about their experiences and envy them for being finished with their shopping.

But hey, I’m not worried. There are more sales coming up. While I was online checking out Black Friday deals I was introduced to Cyber Monday. Just imagine what advertisers will come up with in the next few weeks. There will be something for everyone on Wonderful Wednesday, Terrible Tuesday, Freaky Friday or Silent Sunday.

My rule is—first I decorate and then I shop. So I’ll see you at the stores in December. Just not at midnight!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

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