I'm not sure when I started shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, but I'm pretty sure it was before the day was called "Black Friday." I've gone several times with my mom and a few times on my own. Sometimes I go because the deals just can't be beat. More often than not, I go because I can't stand the thought of missing out on the adrenaline rush that comes with the day.
Last year, Annie and I started a tradition of joining the madness with my friend Beth and her daughter Olivia, who is a year older than Annie. Unlike last year when we hit Kohl's at 4am, yesterday we got a later start, arriving at Target at about 5:55am.
Even arriving that close to the doors opening, we were still about 30th or so in line. Not too bad. I think it helped that we were at the grocery entrance, not the electronics entrance of Target. When the doors opened, people moved quickly but politely into the store.
Beth and I each had our lists and separated once we got thru the doors with plans to find each other again at the checkout. She and Olivia headed to electronics while Annie and I snaked our way back to the toys. I have to say that Target did a great job of having the toy section well staffed. Red-shirted employees in good moods (of course the store had only been open for 45 seconds) stood at the end of nearly every toy aisle, giving directions as to where to find certain items.
Annie and I grabbed two of what I came for (no peeking in this blog!), then added a couple of other "oh, yeah, that is a good deal" items. From there we headed over to electronics where masses of humanity were gathered. Our first find was Olivia, who had been separated from her mom.
Warning the girls to stay close, I made my way to the entrance of one electronics aisle, grabbed one DS game for $11 and then dashed back to stationery to come up for air and call Beth to let her know that Olivia was with us.
It was at about this point that the girls realized we really weren't shopping for them. So either because they were bummed and no longer interested or because they wanted to give us space so we could shop for them, Annie and Olivia headed to the snack bar while Beth and I shopped on.
A few minutes later we checked out, grabbed the girls and were ready to roll. In and out of Target in 30 minutes and for less than $100. That's better than I do on a regular trip to Target.
Because it wasn't 7am yet and neither of us really had a need or desire to go to Kohl's, we headed to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.
Of course, Cracker Barrel is not for breakfast only. There is plenty of shopping to be done there as well. I picked up a Santa on a green scooter Christmas ornament for my friend Chris who tooled around town on her own green scooter this summer and a cool vintage print Christmas shirt for me. It sounds ugly, but it's not. It even passed the Annie test. Seriously, stop by Cracker Barrel sometime and check out the merchandise.
Over breakfast we discussed malt vinegar on pancakes (don't try it), ghosts and Girl Scouts. Fueled by a good hot meal, we moved on to an independent kids book and toy store owned by a friend of ours. Though it was only 7:40am by this time, she was had several people in line each buying a stack of presents at 30% off.
The great thing about little independent shops is that very often, they gift wrap. Cynthia's husband Steve was taking a break from his day job of saving lives to play gift wrapping elf (sans the cute hat and funny shoes).
From there we hit Michael's (I got $60 worth of picture frames for $15!), Bed Bath and Beyond (where I spent $30 I hadn't planned on spending) and Old Navy.
The lines in Old Navy were some of the busiest we'd seen all day, but we were entertained by clever marketing:
and free mints:
Once we were done at Old Navy, I had pretty much covered everything on my list. But the girls were insistent that we were not going to call it quits until at least noon. So we pushed ahead to JCPenney.
On the way there, Beth mentioned something about the contemplated raising of the driving age. I brought up the discussion going on here about lowering the drinking age. All of which led Olivia to ask, "Did you drink before you were 21, Mom?" Cue the awkward silence. I'm glad she didn't ask me -- because I would have hated to make Beth look bad when I said "no." Not that I would have been telling the truth, but sometimes motherhood calls for little white lies.
When we got to Penney's, I was surprised at how busy they were. It was about 10:45am and I figured the crowds would be dying down. But it was worth the stop. I got 2 pairs of pants, a blouse, a turtleneck and two sweaters for just over $100. And we got to meet the young lady who we dubbed "nicest cashier of the day:"
I wish I would have asked her name so I could write to Penney's and tell them how cheerful she was. Whoever you are happy cashier lady, we think you rock!
Our final two stops were Kohl's, where the savings on interesting $5 and $10 items didn't warrant standing in their outrageously long lines (this one reached back all the way to the kids' department)
and Best Buy, where despite all the begging and pleading from Annie and Olivia, we did NOT buy a video camera or a rectangular orange iPod. Having walked out of two stores empty handed and having crossed off almost everything that I planned to buy, we decided to call it a day.
All in all, it was a success. I only spent about $30 that I would deem unnecessary; checked a bunch of stuff off my list; and got to spend 6 hours with Annie, Beth and Olivia. Nearly everyone we came into contact with was polite and good-natured. All of which means that next Black Friday, we'll be out there again.