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John's Blog

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day....Teach him to use the internet and he won't bother you for weeks!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Black Friday Reflections

I suppose enough time has passed and I've had enough sleep to look back on the events of Black Friday. Where I work they run massive doorbuster advertising to attract huge crowds early in the day for this sale. (Anagram alert!) Some person had the bright idea to include in these ads a $10 off coupon with some restrictions but no minimum purchase required. For most normal people, this would be a nice opportunity to save $10 off an item that they might wish to get for the holidays.

Not everybody saw it that way; some saw it as a challenge to get as much stuff for free as they possibly could. Even though the area where I live is a very diverse community in terms of both incomes and cultures, for this event, one group seems to respond disproportionately, while at the same time fueling a lot of the racism that is sometimes directed against them.

The magnitude of what occurred on Friday is difficult to describe, but I'll try anyway. Since the coupon was restricted to one per customer, this required an orchestrated attempt to drag out three generations of families; every man, woman, child, parent, and grandparent each armed with piles of coupons. When the doors opened at 6am, hundreds and hundreds of these groups descended upon the store, much like the assault on the Normandy beaches. They targeted and emptied fixtures like locusts wiping out a harvest. In almost every case, their goal as to find a $9.99 item and add a 2nd item with the lowest retail so that they can pay as little as possible. Every member of the clan goes through the line, to cash in on their loot and then find another register to then do it all over again.

Many groups just gathered their junk in a big pile, and then parked grandma or a child on the pile to protect their stake, while this bizarre variation of supermarket sweep took place. In the midst of this madness, mix in the occasional fistfight with racial overtones just to make things interesting. When the coupon ended at noon, the party abruptly stopped. Mounds and mounds of merchandise dumped everywhere. Isles left completely impassable due to junk just being thrown around.

The ironic part of all of this (I was going to say worst part, but nothing is worse than the abusive customers who abound and the aftermath of having to pick up all the crap) is that the people who show up for this event aren't the customers who are the regular core customers who form the backbone of our business, but simply weasels who are just showing up for their free crap, never to return until we do something this stupid again. The presence of these money grubbing hordes, combined with a very customer unfriendly shopping environment goes a long way towards driving away the customers they work so hard to court the rest of the year. Interesting strategy. Looks like the buy nothing day has a long way to go before it catches on!

In the event your shopping jones hasn't been satisfied, a few shopping related links:
Create a Froogle Shopping List
Deadmalls: Welcome to Retail History!!
The Father Of The Shopping Mall
10 things you shouldn't buy new
Modern Mannequin
Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes To Town
Domain Names Available On eBay
Why Not Give Spam?
What's your favorite catalog?
Black Friday Survival Story
|| JM, 9:38 AM


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