Black Thursday is here, like it or not
Don't get me wrong -- I've done it. I once spent a long, frigid night on the sidewalk in front of the Best Buy in Snellville in hopes of buying a cheap computer. (I succeeded.) And I must admit that despite the cold, it was a lot of fun.
I was in line next to a family that had fled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and I spent the night listening to one fascinating story after another. They described the storm itself, of course, and the aftermath. Then they gave me a vivid description of the pitfalls of dealing with FEMA. In the midst of all that tragedy they talked about how thankful they were to be alive and to have a new home, and I've cursed myself ever since for not having my reporter's notebook and tape recorder with me at the time.
Later, as it came time for the store to open, Chik-fil-A people came around and served everyone free biscuits while Best Buy folks issued vouchers for the products people were hoping to get, which seemed to cut down greatly on the chaos.
After I left there, I went to Walmart and picked up a television/DVD combo for my parents on the cheap. Then I went home and went to sleep.
All in all, the night was a great success.
But I couldn't do it again.
Fighting those crowds is just not my thing. Neither is getting up early. Staying up late, I can do, but I'm not really in the mood to go Christmas shopping at midnight after Thanksgiving dinner. But apparently the stores think a lot of people are, with many retailers planning on opening their doors at the witching hour.
A Target employee has taken exception to the chain's plan to open at midnight this year. He wants more time with his family and less time waiting on yawning bargain hunters at 2 a.m., which is understandable. He has taken the step of getting people to sign a petition to ask the retailer not to open so early on Black Friday.
That backlash is felt by customers, too, with many vowing not to shop stores that open so early. But to some people, that shopping trip is a part of the Thanksgiving tradition. As far as I know, my brother-in-law would be nowhere else on Friday. I'm sure many folks with the same mind-set will welcome the opportunity to get started sooner.
The truth of the matter is, this is nothing new or unexpected. Kmart was always open on Thanksgiving Day when I was younger, and may still be for all I know. It shouldn't be surprising that other retailers are following suit, especially given the competition for consumers' dollars. And working on holidays and weekends is a reality of being employed in retail. (And journalism, too, by the way.)
As for shoppers, Black Thursday may have been inevitable, but it's not mandatory. If you want to shop, shop. If you don't, stay home.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.