"God Bless the Dream, the Dreamer and the Result." 

Monday, November 19, 2007

Joboja Black Friday

Written by Bob Rehak
Edited by: Sharon Estill
Joboja Staff Writers

Men have a limit of six hours of shopping. Per year. We may have the capacity to do more of it, but no one has ever tried. Forget running, biking and swimming in a triathlon. Try shopping, browsing and bargain hunting without stopping.

The signs at the mall that say "No Loitering" don't apply to the male species. They might as well say, "No Skipping While Blindfolded and Humming Opera," because after age 17 we men have no idea how - nor the desire - to loiter in a mall.

Our 360-minute-time-limit is no secret to retailers either. They realize that their window of opportunity to attract men is roughly the same as the female fruit fly at a singles bar. With such a short attention span to work with, retailers came up with a brilliant, evil plan about 20 years ago – Black Friday. Even the name sounds manly. Come to think of it, so do "Door Busters" sales.

You want to get men to shop for six hours straight? Make it seem like a sport.

With stores opening earlier than the breakfast buffet at a retirement home, what normally has the appeal of changing the twins' diapers has suddenly become a personal challenge.

You're planning on getting in line at 2am this Friday for 70% off a 12-pack of VHS tapes? HAH! I'm getting there at 1:45, and I don't even own a VCR any more!

Of course it wasn't always this way. Ten years ago I got in line at Best Buy at 5:45 for a 6am opening and I felt silly for getting there so early. Then about 5 years ago the big retail chains realized that the lines were getting longer earlier, and they were dominated by men. So they started opening the doors at 5am, and the men kept coming, lining up even earlier, jockeying for position. People bring lawn chairs, pop-up tents, and sleeping bags to secure a place at the front of the line, which would seem to make sense—in Hawaii. In Chicago weather it seems beyond crazy, but not when you realize the line is teeming with testosterone.

I must admit, it's a little alarming to watch grown men ooh and aah over the sales papers while they wait in line. Some are even carrying—gulp—shopping lists! The Black Friday sport is very similar to soccer in America. At first, no one cared and thought it was only for those "other people" (in the case of soccer, that meant Europeans; in the case of shopping, that meant women). It slowly became more popular, with news-aired video clips of the “running of the malls” the day after Thanksgiving. Suddenly it looked fun and a little dangerous.

Like soccer, this sport is played in any weather, with crazy fans. There's pushing and shoving and sometimes there's a riot.

Man, it's fun.

Experienced Black Friday shoppers are already getting their game faces on. Three Internet sites in particular are must-visits for pre-game, I mean pre-shopping, planning. All three post Black Friday ads days – and sometimes weeks – in advance of the big day.

The site bfads.net lists the Black Friday ads by category for each store. It has scans of the actual ads themselves, but you have to download the PDF files one at a time to view them.

The second, www.BlackFriday.info, allows users to register, and then create a shopping list of must-haves on game day by simply clicking on items of interest.

Finally, www.blackfriday.dealspl.us lists the deals alphabetically by brand for each individual store. It also includes scans of the ads by just clicking on a link, no PDF downloading necessary.

Separately, these three sites help men plan simple strategies for those 360 minutes of mayhem. Use all three, and you have a Bill Belichick-worthy game plan even before the alarm goes off at 1:15 Friday morning.

This year it looks like a frost advisory for the early morning hours preceding Black Friday kickoff. Perfect. It'll keep the amateurs in bed another 3 hours. It's all about desire on Black Friday. I'll be ready with a lawn chair in the trunk and a VISA in my wallet. I expect a good game this year, based on some of the ad scans I've already seen online. Next year I may kick it up a notch and bring my grill.

1 comment:

Carol Maskus said...

Sadly, I have never experienced Black Friday, choosing instead to knit awkward scarves and buying bottles of wine and gift cards at the last minute. I admire your gusto.