For the longest time, Thanksgiving was my favorite religious holiday. There was no Santa or Easter Bunny, prompting me to spend money, overriding the true sense of the occasion. Well, America finally found a way to commercialize the last day standing…in the worst way. When Black Friday was born, I thought it was a neat idea. Getting out with the family, Christmas shopping for the day, and returning home starved for a huge ham sandwich and a slice of sweet potato pie was pretty fun. I usually didn’t roll out of bed until after the doorbusters were already gone, and I was fine with that. The idea of being in line at 3:30 am waiting for a 6:00 am opening was, well…stupid.
Then, someone had the bright idea to make arrangements to entice the lazy morning shopper to join the buffoonery. Enter Black Thursday, or Thanksgiving Thievery, Thrifty Thursday, or whatever it should be called. Last night was the last straw.
Immediately after a 4pm dinner, the family started gathering coats and purses to make the big trip to the supposed Super Walmart in town (more about that later). I barely had time to allow my food to digest and was forced to skip dessert. Normally, I hate shopping and everyone knows it, unless it’s for an electronic device. However, I tagged along anyway, and even volunteered to drive.
Before we even left the yard, the four women had a crazed look in their eyes. I shook my head. I drove off. I sat alone in the front, both of my sisters were in the back. My mom and sister in-law took a separate vehicle instead, and left the passenger seat vacant. The remaining crew members were too anxious to shift their seating. It would have wasted precious time, and the rush was on. I missed my turn on the way and I could feel the tension rising in the car. I made an adjustment that added approximately one minute to the commute. They let that slide, and after that, the fun began.
As we approached the store, I raised my eyebrows in wonder, and then felt the anxiety rising in my esophagus. There were cars parked along the highway at 5:45 pm EST. That was the first clue that this was going to be a nightmare. We live in very small town USA, and I do believe that all 24,438 of the county residents were there (each driving separately).
We turned into the parking lot and nearly idling, we crept up towards the front strip behind a line of vehicles. One young man came out of the store and walked to a spot only a few spaces from the entrance.
“Ooh Ooh! There’s one Joan,” I could hear from the rear. I sat and waited.
“No, no. He’s just making a drop off, I betcha,” I retorted.
I was right.
Luckily, within seconds, a former student of mine walked by with a cart full of goodies. They nudged me to be assertive, so I pounced! I rolled down my window and called out to him.
“Hey there. Are you leaving?”
He looked back and recognized me.
“Oh hey there Ms. Sharpe! Yes I’m leaving.” I could feel the pressure from my passengers, so I had no time for small talk.
“Ok. We need your park (desperately).”
He waved to us to follow him and we did. It seemed like forever getting from point A to B. We waited and watched as a huge pickup took nearly five minutes to fit into a spot that was slanted in the opposite direction in the first place. As we made it through, one sister spotted a cart about 40 yards away. I couldn’t come to a complete stop fast enough before she was out of the car to claim it. Once parked, the older sister and I moved purses to the trunk, and locked the doors. I heard a faint voice in the distance from the other.
“Ok (boots clicking away from us) I’m going on inside.”
Really? It was crippling cold outside after all, I reasoned. The tell-tale sign that I was going to regret this excursion, was the statement a consumer made who was leaving the store as we entered. “It’s a claustrophobic hot [expletive] mess in there!”
And so it was. The elder sister gave me a head nod and said simply, “Alright! ya got your cell phone on ya?” So, I was on my own without a cart amongst a sea of folks to spend money I didn’t have. Although I could probably write a book about the entire night, I’ll just give you a couple of things I hated about how Walmart handled Black Friday in my town on Thanksgiving Day.
In theory, MOST DOORBUSTERS WERE SOLD OUT LONG BEFORE THE SALES STARTED!
I’m not sure if it was marketing strategy to give away hundreds of vouchers for online registration and merchandise retrieval, but it made the night all the more miserable. Apparently, associates passed out tickets for those hot items as early as 3:00 pm, for a sale that was supposed to start at 6:00 pm. The 1-hour guarantee states that if any doorbuster sells out within an hour, you can pay now and retrieve your item online and have it shipped.
This made several ones of us very upset. Had I known that I could show up at the store on the way to dinner, eat and have dessert, take a nap and eat again, then casually stroll out there when the crowd dissipated, that would have been a go. I feel violated.
In hindsight, If a fire had broken out, I WOULDN’T BE ALIVE TO WRITE THIS POST!
It was sheer pandemonium in there! It was packed with wall to wall consumers, and I need to say once more, there’s only one main entrance! By the time I finally left, I felt as if I had spent three hours slam dancing. Navigating the store was nearly impossible, and naturally, some of the associates were as aggravated as I was.
In previous years, there was a huge crowd, but not quite like this. This was sick and twisted. The lines for deals were excruciatingly slow, and many of the thoroughfares I was accustomed to were obstructed by shopping carts and yellow caution tape. With so much time on my hands, I wondered what would happen in case of fire?
In my mind, IT WAS ALL A CONSPIRACY!
One possible reason for the congestion and chaos is that, we weren’t where we thought we were! First and foremost, this town needed a Walmart Supercenter to replace the old standard Walmart. The construction work is done and the shoppers go in droves. There is a grocery side, and an expanded electronics department. However there are a few typical elements missing or that are there but make you go “hmmmm?.”
Cal Bryant, editor of the Roanoke Chowan News Herald posted this article Thursday morning,
‘Black Friday’ arrives early
Published 8:31am Thursday, October 24, 2013
AHOSKIE – Judging by the number of cars in the parking lot and the throng of people inside, it appeared “Black Friday” arrived early this year in Ahoskie.
With the snip of a red ribbon, a sea of bodies, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, were set free to shop until they dropped here early Wednesday morning upon the opening of Walmart’s new SuperCenter.
With its grand opening, these are my personal findings:
There’s only one main entrance aside from the garden center. There’s no salon, vision center, gasoline or tire center. The interior is severely congested. Did I say one entrance? It’s NOT open 24 hours. The sign out front does not say SUPERCENTER!
Since starting this, I’ve taken a break for lunch, let the dog out and conducted a thorough internet search for Walmart Supercenter locations in North Carolina. The only hit I got for Ahoskie NC, is Walmart Store, that is, unless you count the article written by the local paper.
Needless to say, when it was time to checkout, I was relieved, but I kept hearing this famous quote in my head,
“I say and I say it again, you’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been HOODWINKED, BAMBOOZLED, led astray, run amok.” – Denzel Washington as Malcom X.
To the locals, I say Google it and see for yourself! To all, I say be safe this shopping season, but since you’re here, leave a comment and subscribe to my blog! Do it now while supplies last!