Thanksgiving shopping, I had to do it once

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it. But really, why should I? Doesn’t everybody do it, at least one time, maybe?

Shopping Selfie—(Left to Right) My sister Chloe, myself and her boyfriend Chris stood in line on Thanksgiving evening for the chance at some deals. (Photo by Chloe Benz/for The Herlad)
Shopping Selfie—(Left to Right) My sister Chloe, myself and her boyfriend Chris stood in line on Thanksgiving evening for the chance at some deals. (Photo by Chloe Benz/for The Herlad)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor |

Well I did.

I went shopping on the evening of Thanksgiving.

Now I have never gone shopping on Thanksgiving. And if I made it out to the stores on Black Friday it certainly was after the sun had risen. So I’m not sure what inspired me this year.

Shortly after I arrived at my mother’s house for the holiday, I casually called out “who’s coming shopping with me tonight?” I didn’t think there would be any takers. I figured I would get some eye rolls and ‘yeah right’ looks.

But to my chagrin my baby sister said she would be up for the adventure. Her answer was loud and enthusiastic as if she was waiting for someone to offer up the chance at some evening shopping. Her boyfriend said he would go too, we set the plan.

So at 5 p.m. CST, we sucked in our Thanksgiving guts and zipped our coats and headed out.

We arrived at about 5:15 p.m. and the store had already garnered a small line. It wasn’t too long, but the barriers they had set up signaled that they were expecting a many more patrons.

By the time the store opened up at 6 p.m. the line was around the side of the building, the end wasn’t visible anymore, and I commented to our small group how we had made the right call in leaving when we did.

Small interactions made it an interesting experience, and it started with small conversations in line. We met the people in front of us and behind us. And interestingly enough we all had one thing in common, fantasy football. Those conversations made the time go by as we waited for the gate-keepers to open the front doors.

As time got closer, a few employees came out to layout the rules.

Yes, there were rules.

First, people waiting for the larger television sets were given tickets and told to go right to the front where they could pay and pickup the merchandise.

Tickets, as if to reserve your spot? This would mean no running and chasing. Where’s the fun in that?

Second, we were told to walk inside and down the first aisle, and if anyone was caught running they would be pulled aside by security guards and forced to wait while the other, more civil, customers walked inside. What a punishment, it would literally be like a timeout on the playground while the rest of the kids got the best swing.

The doors opened and we were herded in like regular cattle.

I have to say I was surprised at the whole process. Not only did they have rules on running, but shortly after entering the building employees were waiting with free beverages and snacks for everyone—yet another method to slow down the crowd. These rules seem to have worked, and it prevented the all-out melee consistently featured on YouTube and nightly news reports.

The stores are crafty.

If you’ve never been out for Black Friday, or Thanksgiving evening, you’d be surprised to know that many of the hot items are not in their typical sections. For instance the television sets—the ones not requiring tickets—were in the ladies clothing section. It was a cruel trick on those not ready.

But in reality it was a good marketing tactic. You would be walking down the isle, and just randomly there were items misplaced, like bon fire pits sitting in the mens clothing section. They set them right on the edge of the carpet, so all you had to do was walk by and grab one, without even stopping.

The shopping was contagious. If one item was grabbed, then the rest were gone in minutes, for fear of losing out.

Conveniently the store had carts scattered throughout the store, so if you didn’t grab out out of the gate, you wouldn’t have to go back to the front.

How nice of them.

When It was all said and done I learned two things:

You shouldn’t go shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday unless you are going for a specific item. And shopping for necessities like soap and paper towels is not ideal.

If you don’t have a specific item you end up buying things you don’t need. The big red discount signs are just too hard to avoid, and you just pile things in the cart.

And as far as a casual shopping, try picking out the right soap when you’ve got a dude pushing a cart full of TVs up your backside, kind of uncomfortable.

I have to say shopping during the holiday season has a bad reputation, but I had fun. Nobody should be ashamed, yes you can say that time should be spent with your family. But I was with my family when I went shopping, so what’s the difference.

I wouldn’t be against going out again, but next time, I’ll have a better plan.

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