The first I ever even heard of the concept of “shopping on the day after Thanksgiving” for fun and pleasure was 10 years ago.
(Keep in mind that I grew up on a farm in southwest Kansas, literally in the middle of wheat fields. The day after Thanksgiving was spent jumping on haybales with your cousins in the barn and hoping Grandpa would get Rusty saddled up for a ride.)
So, there I sat, ten years ago, a month long citizen of the suburbs of Chicago, large with pregnancy and Thanksgiving dinner, watching the evening news with my husband and parents, when we saw the strangest sight. News cameras and reporters out in the freezing weather talking to shoppers who were browsing the sales and planning to get up early the next morning to shop. I was mystified. I couldn’t conceive of any reason to do that.
I should probably add one more memory. My sophomore year in college, I went to Boston to spend Thanksgiving with a friend and her family and having nothing better to do on Friday, we took a bus into Boston to “hang out”. We stopped at Filene’s Basement where you could barely move because of the crush of people. We also went to FAO Schwartz. And also to a store where the scarves cost a mere $400. The sales ladies weren’t too nice looking in that store. It was fun, though. Mostly because we had no money, nor any expectations. I honestly just thought that was Boston. Isn’t everything bigger and more crowded in Boston? I didn’t know it was a “thing”.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2002. We were living in a temporary apartment while we waited to close on our house in Maryland. There was a Wal-mart less than a mile from our apartment and we really needed a vacuum cleaner. We’d had to leave the last one in the apartment dumpster in Chicago because it had burned rubber marks on one of our rugs the day we moved out. The Wal-mart flyer had a fantastic deal on a vacuum cleaner so I thought, why not? I’ll go pick it up. Won’t be too hard. They said the store opened at 5, which seemed absurdly early. Maybe it’s easier to go early? I thought I’d be one of maybe 20 obviously insane but die hard shoppers.
Fortunately, I slept in. I got there at 7 in the morning, and was shocked, shocked I tell you, that the entire parking lot was completely full. Actually, not completely. At the very front of the store, some of the obviously die hard shoppers were by now leaving and I got a close spot. Like the amateur I was, I grabbed a cart. And then quickly abandoned it when I got in the store. Lesser people would have turned around and gone home. But I was going to get a cheap vacuum cleaner. I don’t remember how long it took, but I do remember thinking that I was never going to do that again.
Next time, I was going to make Mr. French do it.
(to be continued…)