Friday, November 25, 2011

Your Black Friday Report from Western Oregon

 I've never really shopped on Black Friday before.  Between needing to get a particular item for my daughter at Best Buy as well as feeling an obligation to go simply out of the misguided Occupy Black Friday movement, we found ourselves shopping all night long--not arriving home until after 4am.  Yawn!

While I don't think I'll venture out to anything like this again for a long time, we were fortunate to get a couple amazing deals for Christmas.  In fact, I think this is the first time ever when we're nearly done with our most important Christmas shopping before even reaching December.  That's a nice thing, I suppose.

The people-watching was sometimes a little disturbing, but people were by and large polite to each other.  I would like to point out a couple things, though, to the corporate leadership of Best Buy.  Admittedly, this popular electronics retailer likely had more people waiting at the single entrance than Kohls had waiting between their multiple entrances.  Still, Kohls proceeded to handle the crowds of shoppers with courtesy and efficiency while Best Buy herded us like cattle, weaving in and out of the aisles like sleepy zombies--hungering for electronics more than fresh brains.

I repeatedly noticed Best Buy employees wandering aimlessly around the store, looking tired and frazzled. We arrived an hour, or so, after the initial opening at Best Buy, because we opted to visit Kohls first.  Even arriving around 1am and starting the line around 1:30, we were waiting in the line for at least two-hours.  Instead of opening temporary registers at strategic points around the store, all the cashiers were frantically working up front of the store; this didn't work so well, and it was easy to sense the growing frustration and anger in the shoppers--not to mention the interesting smells.  

Before coming to work for the State of Oregon about fifteen years ago, I worked in the retail loss prevention field.  I realize there are loss prevention and theft challenges with having employees cashiering at other points in the store, but I suggest that this concern can be mitigated by employing plainclothes and uniformed security personnel inside and outside the store--along with the "eyes in the sky" and clear lines for customers to follow to registers and out of the store.

While I considered it important to do my little patriotic part for the economy this year, I don't plan to venture into this retail maelstrom again, if I can avoid it--especially at stores that treat their customers more like a herd of cattle than valued individuals who are tired and just want to purchase their haul and go home to bed.

As an aside, Apple gets the form over substance award this year for their promotion of "The day you've waited 364 days for."  We would have seriously considered buying one or two Apple products this year, except their hyped Black Friday discounts averaged only around 10% off on their popular products.  Come on, Apple, is that the best you can do?  That's about as exciting a deal as a dollar off door stops at the local hardware store.  My iPhone and I went elsewhere this time 'round.

Best Buy in Salem around 11:30pm.

Waiting for Kohls to open around midnight.

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