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24 November, 2006

Black Friday

People just go gaga over this day, when holiday shopping season officially starts. Waiting in line for 24 hours? 3 a.m. store openings? Crazy.

True, there are some good bargains to be found, but is it really worth freezing your butt over or getting trampled on, or even shot at?

Of course the media hypes Black Friday every year, and store flyers start clogging our mailboxes weeks before. But don't they have sales all the time, anyway? Retailing is so competitive there is actually a law that limits the number of sales a store can hold in a year.

Some Black Friday sales don't even live up to to expectations. Apparel is a very good example; one department store whose markdowns I checked out years ago marked up their items a week or so before, then quoted the old price as the Black Friday "sale" price. What a ripoff.

As for big-ticket items, If I don't need it, no sale price will make me buy it; the "gotta have the latest thing" urge came and went with me a long time ago. If I do need it, I don't buy it as soon as it comes out; new stuff comes out every 6-12 months, which means the buzz will die down sooner rather than later, and the price along with it.

If I absolutely have to buy something as a gift, I'd rather let my fingers do the walking online. Lots of bargains can be found there if you're patient enough, and though it may not be the rock-bottom price, I'm willing to pay a little extra to save myself the Black Friday grief.

I once saw the web site of an artist who specializes in environmental photos. One was of a dump site with hundreds of thousands of cell phones swirling around in a bottomless vortex. It was quite sobering, and helped me rethink the whole "I'll buy it because I can" mindset.

Maybe it has to do with losing interest in shopping in general, or the realization that conspicuous consumption isn't doing me or my pocket any good. Whatever the reason, I see Black Friday as just another day.


posted at 7:32 PM by City Muse

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