Best Black Friday stories of all time
Love Among the Bargains
Back in 1991, when a young man and woman on Long Island both joined a line where people were waiting for a store to open, they were looking for bargains. They found love instead. Their seven-hour conversation in that line led to romance. More than 20 years later, they’re married with two kids, and they celebrate their “anniversary” every year by standing in line on Black Friday to shop and sharing their romantic story with other shoppers.
Sometimes the frustrations of standing in line and shopping on Black Friday are enough to make you want to shoot somebody. That’s how one 21-year-old Wisconsin woman felt in 2010, after she tried to cut a line of several hundred people and was confronted by other shoppers. She threatened to shoot her critics—but she had no gun. And since the incident took place in front of a toy store, she wasn’t likely to find one on sale. Police still arrested her and charged her with disorderly conduct.
Polling All Shoppers
Black Friday has become such an iconic event that media outlets even conduct polls about it. In an AOL poll back in 2009, for example, shoppers chose Kim Kardashian over Victoria Beckham and other celebrities as the person they would most like to go shopping with on Black Friday. Today, after a series of scandals, the reality TV star might not draw so many votes. Maybe it’s time for a new poll.
People like to show up early for Black Friday in an effort to get the best deals. Not just hours early, sometimes days or more than a week early. One woman in Tampa, Florida, set up her tent in front of an electronics retailer nine days before Black Friday in 2011, to make sure she would be in prime position to take advantage of the sales. Three other families soon joined her and the group—all students on limited budgets—agreed to share resources. Another couple in St. Petersburg, Fla., set up camp outside a store 12 days before Black Friday, and a Texas couple pitched their tent 10 days before the sales were scheduled to begin.
It’s probably no surprise that so many of these stories about shoppers camping out for days before the Black Friday sales come from states with mild winters.
Hotels in many cities have started getting in on the flood of business that Black Friday represents by offering special discounts and package deals to out-of-town shoppers who want to come into the city on Thanksgiving night, get a good night’s sleep (not on the sidewalk), and still be in stores bright and early the next morning. Other travel and hospitality merchants, in the Caribbean and elsewhere, are creating tempting Black Friday deals for non-shoppers who want a warm-weather vacation as far away as possible from those frenzied holiday shoppers.
Shopping for bargains on Black Friday doesn’t have to be all frenzy and frustration. At a one Maryland retailer in 2011, two store employees entertained shoppers who were waiting in line by performing dance routines while listening to music through the headphones built into their hats and earmuffs, which just happened to be two of the products the store was featuring that year.
A young woman wasn’t sure what she was getting into when her mother dropped her off outside a major retailer the night before Black Friday in 2008. It was late, it was raining, and there was a guy standing there wearing a hoodie. She thought he looked like a bum. Once they started talking, she found out he was a college student, and by the time the doors opened at 6 a.m. they were feeling a strong connection and decided to exchange phone numbers. Two years later, the “bum” proposed.
Black Friday Reject
Not every potential Black Friday romance is a bargain. A woman waiting in line for the release of the video game “Rock Band” in 2007 met another shopper on a similar mission—a 38-year-old guy who worked at McDonald’s as the “fry guy” and lived in his parents’ basement. He suggested they get together that night to play the game, and explained that his basement room had a separate outside entrance, allowing him to “sneak in the ladies” without his parents’ knowledge. But when he asked for her number, she told him it was no sale.
When people think of Black Friday bargains, they usually think about major retailers offering deep discounts on flat-screen TVs or hard-to-find toys, but small merchants also use the national shopping day to drum up business, and some of their deals are just bizarre. Our favorite? A fabric store that offered a great deal on buttons: buy one, get one free.
What’s in a Name?
The name Black Friday makes the day sound bad, and anyone who has reluctantly spent hours getting pushed and shoved by fellow shoppers may feel that’s appropriate, but it’s a good day for retailers. There are many theories about how Black Friday got its name, but the most common is that Black Friday is when most retailers finally show a profit for the year, and their accounts move from red to black.