Friday, November 28, 2008

N is for NUTS

N is for NUTS! Also known as Walmart on Black Friday.

I've never been shopping on Black Friday, but this year, I've been trying a lot of new things, so why not go join the huddled masses and try to snag a few bargains?

Now, I've been doing my Christmas shopping since, well, October. I'm all about Christmas this year. Maybe it's because Mini Me is *almost* old enough to have lots of fun, maybe its just because without the stress of a full time day job, I have a lot more time on my hands to enjoy the simple things. Either way, I'm having lots of fun.

Anyway, I had been searching online for a couple of weeks to see where the good deals were going to be. See, I didn't really have anything in particular in mind. All of Mini Me's shopping is done. But, a bargain is a bargain, right? I don't usually shop at the local Walmart. It's kind of sketchy, there's always really weird people in there buying an assortment of odd stuff, and I always get stuck in the checkout line behind someone whose cart is full, and inevitably has 2 credit cards declined and ends up only getting the pack of cigarettes and leaving everything else.

But, today, they had the best deals. Towels for $1.50, 500 thread ct. sheet sets for $19.99, a 5 qt. Crock-Pot for $15, and kids pj's for $4. So, while I didn't NEED any of these things, how can you pass up a deal like that???

So, at 4am the alarm went off and I headed out the door. (See, I had gotten dressed before I went to sleep. So, a quick brush of the teeth, hat on my head and I was out the door.) I got to Walmart about 4:30. The line was already about 800 people deep (or so the Walmart employees were estimating). Standing there in the dark and the cold with 800 of my newest friends, we watched as more and more people got into line. Then a second shorter lined formed right up by the door. Can you guess where this is going?

At 5 am the doors opened and as the line began to creep forward, shouting started to emanate from the front of the line. The Walmart employees were letting people from the newly formed line in before those who had been waiting upwards of 3 hours. Not a good move. As the angry mob shouted, people just gave up on the line, and a few hundred die-hard bargain hunters charged the doors. Me and some of my more laid-back counterparts just stayed in line, and out of the way. Seriously, if I don't get a crock pot, my life isn't ruined. Honestly, its not.

But, someone must have had the foresight to call the police, because just as it started to get out of hand, 2 cop cars come rolling in and the police stop the madness and restore a sense of calm and order. Everyone files into the store as the new security team, and the (in)famous Walmart greeters reminded everyone to "just have fun" and "no need to fight, plenty of deals". Once inside the store, most people ran to electronics. Which, while I was hoping to pick up a couple of flash drives that were on was not worth my life. That was one dept. that I ended up skipping. Holy Cow! (Side Note: before I even got into the store, someone who obviously had been one of the first in, was already running out of the store with a TV)

But, I did end up getting my crock pot, towels, and sheets. I didn't even have a cart (really, it just slows you down since there's no where to go and the aisles are too packed) so I just balanced my stuff and headed to the checkout. NO LINE!!! I had what I needed and was out of there by 5:30am.

What happened next, I don't know. Maybe it was my sleep deprived state, but for some reason, as I put my bargains into the trunk, something possessed me to head back into the madness to actually look around to see what else they had. So, I headed back in (much to the annoyance of the people stalking me for my parking space. oops)

I grabbed a few random things, and found the pj's. I almost skipped them, because there was a small mob around them and I thought the chances of finding the right characters in the right size would be a bit difficult. But, as I walked past, I happened to spot a package with our good friend Dora on the ground. As I looked closer, I realized they were the right size. Could it be? Could I really have just found the EXACT thing I was looking for, without even having to look? YES! So, got the pajammies!

Now, it was 6am and I decided that it was time to be done. I headed to the checkout and HOLY COW! Where did all these people come from??? As I was standing in line the woman behind me was on her cell phone, complaining about the lines and actually said, "I can't believe I've been standing in line for 15 minutes. It's taking forever because all of the immigrants are buying TVs".

Um, wow! I tried to stand as far away from her as possible in case fists started flying. Then when I finally got to the register, the guy in front of me who was buying a GPS couldn't decide if he wanted the 1 year warranty. Seriously, its a yes or no question. He asked the cashier if most people get them, he asked for my opinion. You want my opinion? My opinion is that you have 5 seconds to make a decision and get the heck out of the way before you cause a riot for holding up the line even more. (FYI-He decided not to get the warrant)

I ended up leaving Walmart at 6:30. I hit Dunkin' Donuts for some coffee and ran a few other errands since I was out. I also scored at the local drugstore that had wrapping paper and assorted stuff for real cheap. (Cindy & Bill, have I got a surprise for you!) Overall, I had a lot of fun. I certainly won't be attempting to buy any electronics on Black Friday, but for a few good deals, it was worth it.

Although, as I type this, I have to say that the craziness and mobs rushing the door is really not necessary and I think Walmart (and probably other stores too-I JUST as I am typing this, heard of a shooting at a Toys R Us in California--really? come on people!) need to do a better job of planning and providing better security before the chaos starts. (Walmart workers should not have to die, just so that someone gets a good deal on a tv.) That's just incredibly sad and unnecessary.

This afternoon, we actually ventured back to Walmart to pick up an item that we had shipped to the store. The parking lot was no busier than a regular weekend, and even though they were marked back up, some of the doorbuster items were still on the shelves. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks.

Let the holiday season (officially) begin!

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