Friday, November 24, 2006

Surviving the Great American Shopping Day

With his new job, the OC now gets Black Friday, the Friday after American Thanksgiving, as a day off from work. So, of course, he was quite interested in becoming part of what is surely a uniquely American phenomenon--much of the population heading out before dawn just to go shopping. Shucks, not just before dawn, I know of at least one mall in a nearby city that hosted a "Rockin' Shoppin' Eve!" bash to keep the anticipated waiting crowds entertained until their stores opened at one in the morning with loss-leader bargains for the Early Birds.

We, however, stayed closer to home for our venture into Black Friday's orgy of consumerism. We were pretty low-key about it all as we initially planned to be away at Christmastime so have already given or mailed gifts to our family.

Shopping just for ourselves, now that's a new experience! We (the OC, Auntie Beth and I) looked over the mound of sale flyers that came with yesterday's paper, discarded the ones for non-local stores and then went through looking to see if there was anything we'd had on our personal wish/need lists. We found relatively inexpensive things to circle in the flyers of three stores in one mall (Staples, Radio Shack and a shoe store) and an LLBean outlet store and made plans to leave at 6am when the stores were scheduled to open.

We left at 6:30 and found a couple of things we'd considered buying at Staples already sold out! (No, we were not interested in buying a half-price LCD HDTV--good thing, too, as they were long gone before we ever arrived.) Tag-teaming (I waited in line at Staples while the OC and Beth collected what they wanted and then we zipped in and out of the other two stores even more quickly), we had collected our bargains and were on the way to the Bean outlet store in just 40 minutes.

We parked beside a car with a Nova Scotia license plate. Hmmm, guess the exchange rate must be pretty favorable to make driving all the way from Canada just to shop worthwhile. Of course, they may have been in the area to visit relatives, though the bargains we found at the outlet might have had something to do with their presence, too. With the additional early morning discount, we only paid 38% of original price for clothing and boots that were on our "watch for" lists!

With only buying for ourselves, shopping surely doesn't take long! What did we get? Winter boots, socks and snow pants. Dress pants. Two pairs of comfy shoes and a very comfy computer chair. DVD blanks, a flash drive, Turbo Tax software, a power strip and then the fun stuff: a hand-crank emergency radio, a rechargable spotlight, and Beth's favorite--TIVO so she can easily watch her favorite TV programs after she returns to work in a week or so.

With no pressure to choose the "right gift", spending only limited time in more crowded stores and the satisfaction of having saved money buying (mostly) needed items, this morning was a surprisingly enjoyable couple of hours--even for committed anti-shoppers of the "get in, grab it, get out" school!

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