Perhaps it was the allure of super low prices. Maybe it was the fact that I had no Thanksgiving obligations. Whatever the reason, this year I got sucked into the Black Friday hole and spent most of my Thanksgiving week crafting a plan to save tons of money.
It wasn’t over-the-top. I focused exclusively on two major retailers and budgeted less than $200. I had no interest in HDTVs, iPods or any other electronic nonsense. Instead, I focused on things we needed around the house and some items on the kids’ Christmas lists.
Toys R Us had a very specific Lego set that my boys and I really want (yeah, that’s right, the big kid plays with Legos too). We also needed a new DVD player and they had one for $20.
I had it all mapped out.
Since Toys R Us opened at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, I would go there first, sometime around 11. This would give me time to digest my turkey, nap, and watch “A Very GaGa Thanksgiving.”
Don’t judge me.
I could avoid the mad rush there and then go to Target where I would purchase a $30 microwave, a $20 artificial Christmas tree, pajamas for the boys and Star Wars underwear... because that’s how I roll.
Kidding. The undies were for my son.
I would be in and out and in bed before 1 a.m.
Clearly, I have never done this before.
As we approached Toys R Us, I noticed that the parking lot was full, but somehow I still managed to find a spot near the store. My plan was working. This wasn’t so bad.
Then came the ominous warning from a lady who had just been inside.
“I wouldn’t go in there unless you have a few hours to spare,” she yelled. “It’s a madhouse!”
I was only buying two items. How bad could it really be?
Bad. Really, really bad.
The checkout lines weren’t long. It was the single line to get onto the checkout lines that snaked through not one... not four... but nine aisles. That’s right, NINE aisles of insane (and miserable looking) shoppers.
Even if I had decided to spend the entire night at Toys R Us, they were already out of the only two items that I wanted to buy.
Needless to say, I left empty handed.
Maybe Target would be better, I thought. After all, it wasn’t midnight yet. How many people would really be waiting outside of Riverhead Target?
Approximately 400 people.
With an “I told you so” refrain coming from the passenger seat, I decided to skip Target, veer off course, and see what was shaking at Tanger. It’s a big place, right? There was no way that Tanger could even come close to capacity... right?
Wrong. They were already using their overflow parking lots. The overflow parking lot? Riverhead Raceway.
You heard me right... Riverhead Raceway. Isn’t that like a half-mile away?
Best Buy? Insanity.
By three minutes to midnight the only store with a line of less than 700 people was Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Do I look like someone that shops at Bed Bath and Beyond?
I went there anyway... I mean, I was already out and I refused to be defeated.
I got myself a nice pair of slippers... and a desk lamp... and some stocking stuffers.
I spent nearly $90 on things that I didn’t really need in the first place.
In the end, the corporate machine beat me the way they beat millions of others each year by hyping us up for massive deals, dragging us in and suckering us into spending our money on a bunch of stuff we don’t really need.
I think that next year I’ll just stay home, nurse a bottle of wine, watch the nightly news and laugh at all the idiots that got sucked into the Black Friday hole.