Tag Archives: blackfriday

Black Friday; Who Coined This Term And Manufactured Chaos?

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(This photo was  taken last year on Nov. 28, at a Chicago Target)

We need to start our engines earlier and earlier each year to participate in what has become the madness of Black Friday shopping. Some folks are barely getting to cut that pumpkin pie or grab a second helping of Thanksgiving stuffing because they are running  out to Walmart or Target or some other wondrous place that allows hundreds of people to stand in line for a store allotment of 10 made-in-Taiwan big screen TV’s or like a few years ago, $2. waffle makers that held the promise of lasting 24 hours.

Black Friday is considered the single biggest shopping day of the year for retailers.  While the name Black Friday may conjure up images of the stock market crash or a power outage, this unofficial U.S. holiday, which falls the day after Thanksgiving, has been traditionally the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season. But, what used to be a kinder and gentler shopping day filled with excitement, fun and Holiday spirit has given way to the spirit of greed as shoppers battle each other for made-in-China crap and last years leftover merchandise along with helping themselves to other people’s shopping carts.

So where did the name Black Friday originate? How did the day after Thanksgiving (and now taking a bite out of Thanksgiving) become the biggest shopping day of the year? In the old days of hand-kept accounting records, red ink indicated a stores loss, and black ink signified a profit. The holiday shopping season is believed to be when stores move from the red to the black. It is said that 20-40 percent of a retailers annual revenue is generated in November and December.

Just like Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer, Thanksgiving, and later in history, Black Friday signify the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. It has been this way since 1924, when Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. For the past 89 years Thanksgiving has been uniquely associated with shopping and consumerism. The holiday parade is a Thanksgiving tradition, but it is also a three-hour advertisement for Macy’s.

The name Black Friday has other meanings also, and it is often hard to decipher fact from fiction. It is said that in the 1950s, people working in industrial factories referred to the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday because so many people didn’t show up for work. Whether these people were out bargain hunting or simply sleeping off too much holiday fun, remains a mystery.

The term Black Friday, however, didn’t gain mainstream  popularity until the 1960s, when Philadelphia police used the expression to complain about streets jammed with shoppers, pedestrians and motorists on the day after Thanksgiving. The phrase was first used in an article in The American Philatelist. By the 1970s, the Philadelphia area was using the expression Black Friday to signal the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and the term caught on.

I used to go shopping on Black Friday when my daughter was young but we didn’t really shop much. We would have lunch somewhere (crowded of course), mingle and mix with the (then sane) crowds and check out the cool Christmas decorations. We thought it was fun to be out and about on Black Friday. But now that retailers have answered the call- of- the- wild- consumers wanting a feeding frenzy of deals and steals, I stay far away from stores on Black Friday and the entire week-end.  The retail outlets, of course, are touting this extravaganza shopping-or-bust day to combat online shopping which takes a good chunk of consumer spending away from brick and mortar stores. But, at least I know if I stay home and shop on my computer I won’t get maced by a “mad” shopper.

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The Ghost of Black Fridays Past

Black Friday (1940 film)

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$2 waffle maker Black Friday shopping fight I watched this Black Friday shopping video in utter shock (click on link at beginning of this sentence to see it). Then the sadness set-in as I realized how horrid, inhuman, barbaric and utterly disgusting the whole situation was. People acting like animals over $2 waffle makers points to an abysmal picture of Americans as-a-whole. This video is all over the internet for all the world to see. Here are the ugly Americans at their worst; greedy, ill-mannered consumers that will stop at nothing to purchase crap.  A $2 made in China piece of garbage waffle iron that probably has the expected life span of a week.

In other “fun” Black  Friday events yesterday, A woman who allegedly fired pepper spray at other customers during a sale of Xbox video consoles  has surrendered to authorities according to Los Angeles police. The woman  allegedly caused minor injuries to 20 shoppers at a Los Angeles-area Wal-Mart.

The attack took place about 10:20 p.m. Thursday shortly after doors opened for the sale. The store had brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game players, and a crowd had formed to wait for the unwrapping. The woman began spraying people in order to get an advantage. Did she really get an advantage? No one seems to know if she ended up with an Xbox after all and it is unlikely she could use it in jail when she most likely will be charged with 20 counts of assault.

In a quite serious Black Friday event, a robber shot a shopper who refused to give up his purchases outside a San Leandro, Calif., Wal-Mart store, leaving the victim hospitalized in critical but stable condition.  What ever happened to the rule, if a robber approaches you, give him whatever he wants or you could end up dead? Is dying worth anything that Wal-Mart could possibly have?

Back in the simple 1970’s and 80’s when people were nice and polite and seemingly not crazy shoppers, I stood in a black Friday line a few times waiting for department stores to open at a normal time (9 am) for a couple of requested items on my children’s Santa list.  One year I stood patiently in line for an unattractive doll with its own unique name and birth certificate. It was called a Cabbage Patch Kid and it was the only thing my daughter had on her wish list. The dolls were in short supply and moms everywhere were on the hunt but I never saw a fight, or a push or an unkind word in my search. I ended up driving an hour away from my home to a friend’s Ace Hardware where he had three of the dolls and saved one for me. He said no one really thought of Ace as a place to purchase dolls and they had been on the shelf for a few days. I think he thought I was a little crazy for going on and on and thanking him profusely.

Another Black Friday moment had me standing in line at Sears for $2 plastic Star Wars figures (of course they are worth a lot now) to complete a Star Wars set complete with a carrying case. My son never asked for a lot for Christmas and it was my mission to find Darth Vader and some of the harder to find figures. Once again it was mostly moms shopping and we were all standing around a huge bin of Star Wars charactersshouting out the names of the characters we found to other moms in need of certain characters to complete a set. We were all helping each other and I walked away with a complete set, as did others. We were laughing, joking and actually having fun. No pushing, shoving, grabbing, pepper spraying or shooting. Not an ugly American consumer in the bunch–evidently a much kinder and gentler crowd and time. Ah, sometimes the good old days–are good.

(Amazingly I found a Cabbage Patch Kid here;  http://amzn.to/Yuq7C4 It is the 30 yr. celebration doll that is similar to the one I stood in line for. I think I’ll get for my 38 yr. old daughter as a memory. I am an Amazon affiliate so anything you purchase through this link will net me a small commission.)

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