Text by Fiona Clarke

Gird your loins…Black Friday is only two days away. Sure there have been a swell of pre-Black Friday deals this year, but those are just teasers. Combining long lines, frantic shoppers and limited supply of the most coveted items, Black Friday is the perfect storm for holiday shopping insanity. Yes, it’s crazy. Yes, there will be stories on the news again this year of the ridiculous things shoppers do for the best deals. But, is it possible to be worth it AND fun? 

Above: Black Friday is the perfect storm for holiday shopping insanity.

A colleague of mine and her mom go every year. “It’s our little tradition,” she explains. “It’s the fun of being out all night and morning and thrill of getting that hard to find item.” In the same way that we can’t look away from a car accident even when we know what we’ll see may be intense, such is the same mentality for folks who go out each year to participate in the insanity themselves. After all, watching shoppers push and shove for a 40-percent discount can be entertaining.

And then there’s the deals, deals and, wait for it…deals, some so great that people are willing to camp out for hours to be first in line. Retailers pull out all the stops as a way of kicking off the holiday shopping season, baiting customers with deep discounts on select items and cashing in when they are tempted by other items. And if you think the process looks like a madhouse from the customer side of things, just think about what it’s like for the employees.

A local Best Buy manager told me about a customer who tried to cut in line when the doors opened. The people who had been waiting in line for hours were furious and didn’t believe the story that he just went back to his car to grab his gift list and came back to his rightful place in line. Bedlam erupted. So the manager chose to wait until the people in line had entered the store before he let the “line cutter” enter. That very day, the manager also saw a customer take a laptop computer that was on special out of another shopper’s cart while they were examining another item. The manager immediately had security usher the culprit out of the store. 

It sounds like swift justice, especially for anyone breaking the cardinal “no cutting in” rule of line-formation. But these tales are still mild compared to what we see happening on Black Friday courtesy of ever-present smartphones video. There’s even a story out of California about a woman who used pepper spray on two dozen other customers while attempting to score deeply discounted merchandise. It’s difficult to keep that in mind when tempting ads keep popping up. A TV that’s normally $5,000 on sale for $1,800. That’s got to be an amazing deal, right? Well, not necessarily. Some electronics are produced expressly for Black Friday, and if they malfunction, repairing can be a problem. Best to read the fine print. 

Saving on an item is only a good deal if it’s something you would have purchased anyway. And, do remember that the goal of Black Friday isn’t to finish your holiday shopping in one day. It’s to get great deals on gifts and snag those hard-to-find items your friends and family are sure to love.

Black Friday is not for the faint of heart but, if you’re up to the challenge, go forth and conquer. I myself will choose to sleep in, resting up for Cyber Monday.