Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Shopping? Oh Yes, I Did! :)

I got my first taste of the Black Friday Fever several years ago when, as a preteen or teenager, I went to Wal-Mart at midnight with the adventurous ladies in my family. The frenzy, the deals, the fun! I was hooked! It quickly became something I looked forward to every year...and this year was no different! :)

My shopping buddies have varied over the years...sometimes with family, sometimes with friends, and occasionally, as I was this year...solo! With my assignment from Santa and armed with the most organized plan I've every had, I headed out my door at about 9:30pm. Now, for those of you who know me, you may be a bit surprised that I enjoy Black Friday shopping as much as I do because it puts me smack dab in the middle of two things I usually avoid - (1) large crowds and (2) shopping alone at night! But there's just something about Black Friday that draws me out.

Obviously, this year we are very tight on funds as we seek to adopt our son's biological sibling, so we must make every penny spent count! While Christmas is certainly not about the gifts, it is still a very magical time for children and part of the fun is opening gifts. David and I agreed that we would NOT buy each other any gifts, because we are hoping to bring the ultimate gift home in June when Christopher's sibling is born! At the same time, I don't want Christopher to feel that this adoption is taking anything away from him. While the amount of gifts will be less, and certainly less expensive, than in years past, we feel it is important that he still have gifts under the tree!

So...I planned my attack with more organization and planning than I ever have before! As usual, I looked through all of the sales circulars in the paper yesterday morning and set aside the ones for stores I planned to visit. Usually, this is about where my organization ends...maybe with a few items marked or circled to guide me in my shopping...but not this year! I went back through my stack and sorted them by opening time. Then I went through each one and made a list by store of the items I was considering for purchase, as well as price or discount (depending on how it was listed). I loaded this list on my phone for easy accessibility while shopping and weeded out a couple of items. All this was done before we headed out for our Thanksgiving dinner with David's mom and brother!

After a great Thanksgiving dinner with Mom J and Chuck and some visit time, we headed back home, put away leftovers, and I finalized my plan before heading out. My plan was to head to Toys R Us first, since they opened at 9pm, I thought maybe the line would be pretty much gone by the time I got there. I thought wrong! In the picture above, you can see the line was in full force! In fact, it was wrapped around the parking lot. I took the picture & debated about getting in line or not. I decided to go for it...I'm not really sure why. It's not like there was anything in Toys R Us that I was chomping at the bit for...just a couple things I wanted to check out...only one of which I actually purchased - a $2 stocking stuffer! But...while standing in said line, the lady behind me told me about a Black Friday app. Having nothing better to do while waiting in line, I decided to download it (a free app) and began checking out the deals listed. It was this app that directed me to my big purchase at Toys R Us...an organizational thing for the vast amount of Legos that grace the playroom (most of them from David's childhood).

Shopping in Toys R Us was by far the worst experience of the night! For someone who is a bit claustrophobic (hence the reason I avoid crowds of people for the most part), this was daunting at best. I was barely in the door when I found the Lego thing and was trying to maneuver around to get it in my cart when the not-so-nice employee told me I needed to clear the aisle. What a great way to start! But...I got it and made my way around the store to check out the other items on the list (figured I was in, might as well check them out)...decided against two and bought the stocking stuffer. Then came the maze to the check out! I had to weave my way back to the other side of the store and then made my way to the check-out. The same employee who had barked at me coming in the door was there to inform me again that I was not playing this game appropriately (thought somewhat nicer this time)! I was already feeling dazed and confused...thankfully, my friend Loretta was there to direct me (she was next to get in line)! Apparently, I needed to find the lady with the balloon and weave my way through shelves to get to the point where this employee could direct me to the check-out. Problem was...I saw no lady with a balloon. Silly me, I thought she'd be holding a helium balloon that would be easy to see. I actually found the end of the line on my own, and as I was weaving my way through, I spotted the employee with the balloon held down by her side. Oh my! I finally made it out of the store 2 hours after I first got in line...most of that time spent in line either trying to get in the store or get out! ;)

After tucking my purchases in my car, I saw my friends Ryan & Amy, who were smart enough to go to Wal-mart first and come back! I handed off my cart to them and chatted for a few minutes, then made my way to Wal-mart. A few things on my list...one being the LeapFrog Tag because we have a USA map that has gone unused because I didn't realize when I bought it for our schoolwork this year that it didn't come with the Tag! Finally made my way to the toy aisle and the ONLY one they have is PINK!!! I could just hear Christopher on Christmas morning, "PINK?!? That's a GIRL color!!!" I hesitated a bit, frantically searched the aisles to see if maybe, just maybe, a green one had been put down somewhere (it hadn't)...then made the executive decision to get it anyway. I figured I had time to exchange it for a green one before Christmas, so why not. Picked up a couple of other little things and made my way to the check-out. While waiting in line, I marveled again (as I had at Toys R Us) at just how many people brought their kids Black Friday shopping...and not just babies, but school-age kids, too! Wouldn't that defeat the purpose? Oh well...who am I to judge? I finally reached the little kindly gentleman who directed me to my assigned register. I'm standing behind this guy who tells me all about his $198 32" HDTV in his buggy. You'd think he was trying to sell me on it! While I'm sure it's a great deal, a $200 TV (no matter how great it is) just is not in the budget this year! He stops his sales pitch long enough to tell me someone else got out of a line if I wanted to take advantage of it...I did!

Next stop, Kohl's! This was my Angry Birds stop. Christopher is absolutely crazy about angry birds...obsessed might be a better word! ;) I scored some pj's, a t-shirt, & a card game for Christopher...all angry birds! Time to head for yet another line. This line started at the back of the store...never a good sign! While waiting in line, I got to see my friends Linda & Tonya. About 10 minutes into waiting, I come to a sign that says, "From this point, you have a 15 minute wait to the register" - wait...am I shopping or at a theme park! ;) Can I just say that the signs along that line (yes, there was one that said 10 minutes, too) were no more accurate than the theme park lines? Actually, maybe the theme park line estimates are more accurate! I was in line for no less than 30-45 minutes! While in line, I overheard the woman a few customers ahead of me give a play-by-play of her husband's misadventures at Best Buy Black Friday shopping! Poor guy!

As I shopped Bealls and Target, I ran out of steam. I found nothing at Bealls that I felt fit into the budget...so, I walked over to Target. Found a couple of things I was looking for and checked out. For the first time that evening, I walked right up to the register, with only one customer in front of me! Gotta love it! As I walked out of Target, I realized I'd left my keys in the buggy at Bealls! Panic coursed through me and visions of waking up both my husband and son to come get me ran through my head as I bee-lined it back to Bealls. Thankfully, I found my keys at the customer service counter in the back - someone had graciously turned them in! Thank You, God!

At this point, I'm ready for you to put a fork in me...I'm done! As I'm driving home, though, a wild thought goes through my head and I decide to check out the OTHER Wal-mart to see if they might have the green Tag I was looking for. Sure enough, they've got two of them. I only need one. I'm good! So, I make my way up to the front where FIVE employees are standing in front of the customer service area, doing nothing but chatting with each other. I ask one of them about exchanging the pink one for the green one and I'm informed that the customer service department is closed. WHAT?!? The store is open, right? This IS a 24 hour store, right? Shouldn't customer service be open when the store is (particularly when there are people to work it?)? Apparently not! I was informed that it was all about the sales and no exchanges or returns would be done until 7am. I glanced down at my watch, almost 4am. Nope, not gonna wait 3 stinkin' hours for customer service to open! So, I do what any sleep-deprived Black Friday crazy shopper would do...I bought the green one, too!

I headed home, got a few hours of sleep before the precious seven-year-old who was blissfully unaware of my all-night shopping adventure decided I needed to get up so he could watch TV in my room (the only working TV in the house). So...I sent him to ask David to start a pot of coffee for me (a caffeine drip would have been better!) and I got up! :)

Twelve hours after leaving the last store, I was back at that same customer service desk returning the pink Tag. I was not amused at the suggestion of painting it green instead of refunding my money. Poor guy!

As crazy as it was, as much as I feel like I've been run over by a truck...still, I'm sure I'll be at it again next year! Hopefully, buying for two little blessings! :)

Hope everyone had a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING, a save Black Friday adventure (if you went on one), and may I be among the first to wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :)

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