Tag Archives: Wal-Mart

The Ghost of Black Fridays Past

Black Friday (1940 film)

Image via Wikipedia

$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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Borders Books; The Final chapter

Borders in San Mateo, California.

Image via Wikipedi

(This is an update from a Feb. blog when Borders entered Chapter 11)

It’s ironic that Borders Books, the book chain that played a huge part in putting thousands of smaller independent bookstores out of business with their superstore business model initiated in the 1980’s,  is now going out of business. It is closing the last 399 locations of Borders Books and turning the inventory over to liquidators. While I lament the closing of any brick and mortar bookstore, you could see this one coming even if you weren’t an “expert” but just a lowly consumer.

Borders always seemed to lag a few steps behind-the-times. They didn’t catch on to the increasing rise in internet book buying or electronic book purchases until it was too late. They were still selling CD’s for $22 when people were downloading music for 99 cents on the Web.

In 2001 Borders contracted its e-commerce business out to a little company called Amazon.com. For Borders this was like a death sentence according to many economists.  Amazon didn’t have the slightest interest in promoting Borders, it just wanted to be the king of online books. And of course, it took a while but it is. Borders got lost in the shuffle at Amazon and then places like Sam’s Club, Costco, WalMart and every Tom, Dick and Harry with shelf space started selling heavily discounted books.

Borders also wasted valuable years in progress and profit I feel, by hiring four CEO’s in five years that had no book sales experience what-so-ever. I found this astounding.  I mean, I consider myself a true book-person. I read them, decorate with them, give them as gifts, collect them, store them etc. but I can’t imagine owning a bookstore large or small and not putting a smart business person with extensive book knowledge at the helm. This is what happens when someone with an MBA thinks they can sell widgets and books.  People like this think product is product. But, they are so wrong. Book people are different. I might spend an hour in a bookstore picking out a book but I would spend one minute in a store picking out a widget (whatever that is).

Publishers will be the first to tell us that Americans are buying fewer books. Well, of course we are buying fewer books. The average new hardcover has a retail price of $28-$32. Mass market paperbacks are now hovering at $15 and up if you don’t get some kind of discount.  People like “Snooki” from that stupid Jersey-whatever show are penning tomes, all the while thinking the word tome is a new kind of liquor. So, high prices and low quality content certainly has to play a role in declining book sales and not just because of the fact that people are spending more time on the internet and less time reading.

Going into a bookstore like Borders is like taking part in a “book experience.” It’s the bookstore smell, the coffee, the people, the staff and of course walls and walls of books. I know E-Readers and Kindles are hot items and Barnes and Noble claims their e-books now out-sell “real” books but the act of holding a book in your hand and visually looking at the jacket and the cover and reading the blurbs etc. is all part of the bibliophile experience. If a great book is considered a real “page-turner” some people feel you need actual pages not an electronic device.  Hopefully when the big box bookstores are gone we will see the return of the smaller independent bookstores. One can only hope.

Not surprisingly, library usage is up nationwide. Of course, it is a sign of the economic times but I think it is a good thing. It gives us the opportunity to show younger readers that the internet is not literature, YouTube is not research and Twitter is not real writing.

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