Like a lot of people who are thrifty this time of year, I’m usually privy to the Black Friday adscans/leaks and other deal hunting strategies. This year, I chose Best Buy because I was hoping to get a TV since 19″ just doesn’t cut it anymore for entertainment for me.
Last night, I thought I was real wise when I wanted to camp out overnight and get there at 11PM (doors open at 5AM the next day). Well, it only seemed this was a futile attempt to outsmart hundreds of other people too. When I got there the line stretched all the around to the back of the building by the loading dock. Alas, this was the very same position I was in last year when I arrived “early” at 3AM.
Best Buy Campers — Setup 11AM on Thanksgiving Day!
I came prepared though — I brought my camping chair, a blanket, bundled up and took out my subwoofer in my car so I can fit whatever I was going to purchase. I chatted a bit with the people around me in line and we traded many stories. Stories were told since we were all veterans of Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Circuit City Black Fridays in the past.
We strategically polled other people to identify what they wanted to get. The conclusion is to see if they are your friend or foe and would assist (or block) accordingly. A lot of people were eager to get the $199 and $350 computers that were on sale.
Two naps later, the Best Buy truck driver was getting impatient as people have clogged the main artery for deliveries in the back by parking on both sides of the road. He issued veiled threats to people, citing if they don’t move their vehicles, he’d have them towed. The threat did have substance because LCSO was present for crowd control and public drinking enforcement. (I kid you not, when I say that I’ve seen people literally tailgating with several 24-packs of Budweiser.)
Later, 3AM rolled around, people stood up and followed each others every move to satisfy their curiosity, “Are they giving out tickets for laptops yet?” was the most common question that people uttered. The “yellow jackets,” also known as Best Buy employees used the buddy system so they don’t get trampled by people and were also escorted by the police to ensure no one pulls any surprises. The tickets were being distributed. I was number #18 out of 20 for the 32″HDTV’s that were being sold, so it was like a lottery, I felt special. I felt valued, I felt vindicated. It all paid off.
My ticket that was issued by Best Buy employees for my TV.
It began to get even more breezy, making a bone chilling wind-chill (felt like 20F). Finally people began piling up around the front door. It was apparent that LCSO didn’t have control of the situation, as people were filing in without any kind of order and the late-comers were cutting in front of everyone who waited in the line for several hours. People were miffed at the sight of them just walking across the parking lot into the front door. (Last year, there was a fist-fight because someone did that… so one might expect LCSO would avert that risk this time.)
I got what I wanted, though. Had to drive around to the car audio installation area to pick up my TV and pay for it. A very seamless process for TVs and I was quite satisfied. I was disappointed by the lack of exciting deals like free things. I remember years ago, one could easily obtain free [small] gadgets, software, or at least some good mail in rebates on things. Clearly, Black Friday isn’t only to adjust their books, it’s marketing ploy to get people in their retail stores.
Later, I went to Sam’s Club to enjoy my complimentary breakfast they offered to their members. Their Nintendo Wii family pack was tempting, but I passed. I then left to go next door to Wal-Mart and check out what kind of gonga-sales they had. Historically, Wal-Mart Black Fridays are usually the most violent, even for the most trivial of items, so I almost never wait in line for them. Knowing that they sued every person who posted their ad, they weren’t worth my time to wait in the cold for hours for a $10 toaster.
I left with some kitchen supplies (can’t go wrong for $5 each), a GPS unit for $128 and a TV Stand. I want to get rid of the older entertainment center which is older cheap pressboard. Overall a good experience, waited in line for a while but what can I do — complain? I’m a part of the very problem.
Went home, and unloaded my car. It was cold and dawn and felt weird. It reminded me of when I went to a LAN party, then left for breakfast — that weird, false jolt of energy that one has from an ‘all-nighter’. 75 pounds was quite a challenge to lift when my hands were half-numb and my knees were weak from staying up. When it says on the box, “Team Lift,” I know I’m in for a treat.
Now, I hooked up the TV and picture is phenomenal. I now have a reason to watch my movies again. I was in the middle of assembling the TV stand, then my mom called me to inform me about her purchase of a new Gateway laptop. While I was totally glad she got it, I was very concerned because I didn’t want them selling her some overpriced accessories (you know, obviously everyone needs gold-plated USB cables to print). Turns out she needed help getting on her wireless connection, and forgot the WEP codes, also got her AOL installed and she was good to go.
All in all this Black Friday was pretty good. For those who slept in, no worries, Cyber Monday is just around the corner for all your competitive shopping needs.