I was 17 years old the first time I ventured out for Black Friday. I wanted to buy my mom a pair of ruby earrings for Christmas and Kmart was selling them for 75% off from 5 a.m. – 7 a.m.
Groggy from a lack of sleep, I rolled out of bed that morning and left the house long before the sun came up. It was bitterly cold outside, but there wasn’t enough time to warm up the engine of my 1984 Buick Century — the nearest Kmart was 20 minutes away and I wanted to be there when they opened.
When I arrived, there were about 30 people waiting outside the store. We all rushed in as soon as they unlocked the doors. The sales clerk was handing out numbers at the jewelry counter, and so I patiently waited for another 45 minutes to get the ruby earrings I had come for. Once my mission was accomplished, I drove home and went back to bed.
Of course, this was before the internet and the advent of online shopping.
Nowadays, there’s no need to get up before the crack of dawn just to get the best deals. Most online retailers start their Black Friday specials on Thanksgiving – a full day earlier than their retail locations. (Of course, that doesn’t stop Black Friday diehards from camping outside their favorite stores for days in advance.)
And just because people venture out, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re buying things in the store. According to articles in both The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, many people use their smartphones to compare prices while out shopping. If they find a better deal online, they’ll buy it instantly from their phones instead of waiting 20-30 minutes in the checkout lane.
The experience of Black Friday will no doubt be lost on younger generations, as they flock to the internet to buy gifts from their iPhones or laptops. Someday they’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.