How Could You Not Love Black Friday?
I'm a Jersey Girl at heart and there was nothing better than East Coast Black Friday back in the 80's, 90s and early 2000's. The Hollish women saw Black Friday as a sport and with our 6-foot+ wing spans, we could hold our own no matter how crowded it was on Black Friday.
I have cherished memories of those days, including:
- $100 off all boots for 1-hour only from 5AM-6AM requiring us to fend off other buyers to get the styles and sizes we wanted. Boy, could we box out the competition!
- Taking our receipts to get free DVD recorders for every $75 spent in the store. Each man in the family received a DVD player that year.
- My sister opening a store credit card to get extra all-day savings and deciding to buy every single person in our family a winter coat for Christmas.
- Making dozens of runs to the car to unload our purchases so they didn't weigh us down, especially all those winter coats and DVD players.
- Always waiting for my sister to take a shower before leaving for the mall even if she had to get up at 4AM to do so.
- Realizing that we parked in the perfect spot our first time at King of Prussia Mall - a spot on the walkway between two adjoining malls.
- My sister having to buy a pair of sneakers so she could continue Black Friday shopping with us.
- Wheeling my infant and toddler in a double stroller to my local mall to get an amazing Black Friday discount on a Tall winter coat at J Crew and having the most amazing sales associate assist me by watching my stroller while I tried on coats in a few sizes and checked myself in the mirror minutes after the store opened and the other associates snarled at me for arriving with kids in tow on Black Friday.
- Getting a mall wheel chair for my mother so she could keep up with my daughters and me on Black Friday. We could load a lot of bags on that chair!
- Taking a group selfie as we arrived at the mall on Black Friday.
So what has happened to Black Friday?
Black Friday is not what it used to be. Stores got very greedy and forgot about their customers. Retailers seem so afraid of losing business to online shopping that they took the fun and excitement out of the in-person Black Friday Experience.
Stores opening on Thanksgiving was an absolutely horrible idea. Not only did the retail employees hate working on the holiday, the customers felt like they had to be there early to get the deals.
There was one year when Target offered a huge Apple Discount at midnight after Thanksgiving and my local mall was very festive, but the Target Lines were unbelievable! I remember taking my mom to shop that night and there were half naked male and female models outside of A & F trying to draw teens into the store. We had to go home to sleep for a few hours and then go to another mall for Black Friday. It was ridiculous! We arrived at 6AM to see people leaving with arms full of bags after shopping all night.
Seriously, retail decision makers need to remember the best things about the Great Days of Black Friday Shopping. Door Busters were awesome. You had to be there to get the deals. Toys-R-Us had $25 bikes for 1-hour only. Parents were there and ready to buy! Now sales run a week before Black Friday and stores are picked over by Friday morning. And many stores offer better deals online than they do in the store.
For the past few years, my daughters and I would go and try things on at Zara and figure out the right size and then while waiting in the incredibly long line to the register, realize that we could actually save a bunch of money if we ordered the items online instead. So we did, and had them shipped to our home, making it unnecessary to shop in-person.
Here's my review of this year's Black Friday experience.
I'll start by saying that I visited two malls (Tysons Corner and Fair Oaks) and two strip malls this Black Friday. It was sad to see so many empty store fronts in both malls. Many of our favorite stores have closed or moved elsewhere.
A heartfelt thank you to most of my local malls for being CLOSED ALL DAY on Thanksgiving. We and all of your employees thank you. Thanksgiving is a day to be celebrated with loved ones, not at work. We have very few non-religious holidays that all American's celebrate and Thanksgiving should be a day off for as many people as possible.
Tysons Corner was packed at 6AM. People were ready to shop. Zara had a VERY LONG line and camera crews were filming the crowds.
Most of the stores had unremarkable inventory this year. While we usually love to buy some fun and exciting items to give as gifts, most stores seemed to be taming down their selections to basics and very neutral color palettes. It was very disappointing. Zara, H&M, Garage, Urban Outfitters, The Gap, Macy's, Nordstrom (even TopShop) were simply blah. Zara had a cool fur coat that many tried on, but the cut made everyone look like they were wearing a robe. American Eagle had several different carpenter pant offerings in the store, but none of them matched the designs that were online.
XXI, Formerly known as Forever 21, was the only store that had sales they called Door Busters. All other stores had sales that seemed to run throughout the week. If you have a brick and mortar store, give customers a reason to shop there.
Nordstrom moved their Top Shop Department to the 3rd floor (horrible idea) and their Brass Plum Department had Disney kid clothes infiltrating their area. What used to be a truly great shoe Department was positively boring and had athleisure clothing sections mixed into the shoe section.
At JoAnn Fabrics near Fair Oaks, a Reindeer Slipper wearing employee I am told was named Lisa, was very rude to customers who asked to use the bathroom - she told them it was out-of-order after she used and vacated it. Lisa then ran a raffle where customers could win a prize that turned out to be a giant trash bag filled with fake hay and then she shamed people who didn't act grateful for the gag gift.
On a positive note, Fair Oaks Mall still has a Sbarro Pizza. The one at Tysons closed a year or two ago. It was nice to have that part of our tradition back.
Miranda and I always have fun together even if the shopping was just okay. We found a few things and checked a few things off our holiday shopping lists.
And, I assume next year. We'll do it all over again.
How was your Black Friday?