Earlier this week Maya and her friend Greta announced that they really wanted to go somewhere for Black Friday shopping. To be more specific, they wanted me to drive them somewhere for Black Friday shopping, our local stores not being as stimulating as the fluorescent glare and pervasive noise of an indoor shopping mall.
Their initial request included getting up at some god-awful time of the night to be at whichever mall we chose when the doors opened. At 4am. When I asked why they said, “Just for the experience.” To which Greta’s Mom responded, “But that’s like wanting to experience the plague!”
I couldn’t agree more.
On the other hand, I remember how exciting it was as a young teen to have some money of my own to spend, and despite my misgivings about the whole premise of Black Friday (which as I see it seems to encourage people to spend a ton of money they may or may not have, on a bunch of stuff they almost certainly don’t need because they suddenly feel they can afford it), I didn’t want to refuse outright.
So we compromised, rising at 7am and arriving at the Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City at 8am.
In retrospect, if you feel the urge to make an appearance at a mall on Black Friday, the best time to arrive is between 7-8 am. We were amazed at how empty is was when we got there. All of the crazy people who camped out or were there when the doors opened at 4am were long gone, and store clerks were standing around yawning.
But make sure you leave by 11am or you’ll find yourself in a slightly frenzied second wave of shoppers who arrive at 11:30 or so to try and take advantage of the sales that end at noon or 1pm. The last hour was a little like my idea of being in hell, if hell consisted of teeming hordes of people all in a mad dash from one store to the next while carrying massive shopping bags full of heavy and/or boxed items which bashed into the legs of every person they passed.
Ben came with us and very gamely walked around with me while the girls went off on their own. His sole purchase, made with his own money, was a case for his DS game. I must say he showed impressive restraint in the face of shelves and shelves of DS & Wii games on deep discount.
The girls enjoyed themselves too, though by the end the crowds were taking their toll and they were starting to look like I imagine I look upon landing after a trans-atlantic flight. They each bought a few things – and it is stuff they will actually use – and so far I’ve heard nothing resembling buyers remorse. Of course part of the fun was walking around on their own, meeting up with me and Ben only for lunch.
In the end it wasn’t horrible and the kids had fun. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it could have been far worse.
Besides, the weekend is young and tomorrow night we make our yearly pilgrimage to the Church of Arlo Guthrie & Pete Seeger at Carnegie Hall. Which means things are looking up.