So, this year I decided to see what this whole Day-after-Thanksgiving early morning shopping frenzy was all about. Thanksgiving itself I had stayed over at my fiancee's family's house and that night had dutifully gone through the newspaper ads making a list of what to buy where for how much and, key to the shopping frenzy idea, what time the store opens.
My day started inauspiciously when my alarm went off at 3:50 AM and I lay in bed for the next ten minutes listening to a pack of howling coyotes in the distance --- but not too far in the distance. I got out to the Fry's Electronics in Canoga Park at 5:07 (they had opened at 5:00), and the parking lot was already packed; I had to park in the lot for a business park adjacent to the store. The line to get into the store was moving at a brisk walking pace, but its end was still all the way around the back of the building. It was pretty hectic inside but nobody was wrestling with each other or anything like that. They had advertised a selection of DVDs for $2.99, but didn't specify what they were; it turned out they were all movies I had seen or wasn't interested in getting.
So I left and headed over to Circuit City, which had also opened at 5:00, and was offering a whole mess of DVDs for $4.99, as well as some other deals. As I parked I listened on the news to a spot about Rev. Billy
of the Church of Stop Shopping, who was promoting Buy Nothing Day
. I was not converted. There were some good deals out there, dammit. I got into the store at about 5:30, and it was packed to the gills. I searched around some in the bins, came across one DVD I thought about getting, saw the checkout line, which looked like it was at least an hour, and figured it wasn't worth it. So far I had been to two stores and had bought nothing.
Next up was Toys 'Ya' Us, which had been advertised as opening at 6:00. As it turns out, when I got there at 5:50, the doors were already open. There were people inside but it was fairly quiet. I immediately found the Legos I was looking for and got out before their announced opening. Kmart was opening at 6:00, so I went over to the one in Northridge in the hopes of finding something good. No such luck, but I hadn't pinned many big hopes on them. I got gas and headed down to Target, which had advertised a 7:00 opening. I got there a few minutes before 7:00 and they had already been open for a while; the sign on their door said they had opened at 6:00! As such they were cleared out of the items on my list, but I did manage to get something for my parents.
The next store on my list was Tower Records, but they weren't opening until 8:00, so I killed some time by checking out Best Buy, which didn't have anything advertised that I was dying to get. The store was packed, the trash outside looked like the aftermath of the Rose Parade, and people had already received parking tickets for overflowing onto the street. They had plenty of stock, though, and I thought about getting a CD, but the register line snaked all the way through the store, and despite assurances from the staff that there were 13 registers open, they still said it would be at least a 45 minute wait. I figured that wasn't really worth it to save a couple of bucks on a CD I didn't have my heart set on getting.
So over to Tower and a two-minute nap before the doors unlocked right at 8:00. There were only a few people inside and it was actually quiet. I browsed for a while and picked up a few items and then headed over to Tuesday Morning, a closeout store generally full of odd crap. They had opened at 8:00, also. There were a few customers and I took some time browsing before finding a gift for someone. With that, I was finished for the day, having done more shopping before 9:00 than most people do all day. I went back to the house and promptly fell back asleep.
What lessons did I learn? First of all, expect the electronics stores to be madhouses. The other places --- even the toy store--- were all pretty normal, except for the fact that they opened so early. Second of all, prioritize. It's really probably not worth it to stand in line for an hour just to save a few bucks on a DVD, but I could see it if you were saving a big wad of cash on a big-ticket item. So do your homework the night before and figure out exactly what it is that you want, and get to that store before the advertised opening time. You should probably call them up and see when they plan to actually open. For the really enticing deals, that's probably necessary; I remember showing up at Fry's one year in the afternoon and all the big sale stuff was already cleared out that morning.
Or if you don't feel like putting up with any of that, just buy nothing.
For another perspective, Kimmy
here seems to have Christmas shopping down to a science. Personally, I have close to no idea what I'm going to get people and generally don't finish until a couple of days before the 25th.