Thursday, November 15, 2012

A retailer's guide to Black Friday

Patrick and I both work in retail. And that means that today is the day where my shoulders start getting tight and I drink lots on antacids as I prepare for Black Friday. In some ways, its kind of fun - its what you prep and plan for as a retailer. But in other ways, it can be really stressful because people get crazy! Here is my advice, as a retailer, to you, the shopper.

  1. Know that it is going to be crazy out there. Every year there are some people who seem so ANNOYED that there are long lines. And they are mad at us that we can't make the lines shorter. Guess what? We wish we could make the lines shorter too, but we have every cashier doing everything they can to get people through the line. So be prepared to wait (bring snack and make sure your phone is charged and loaded with games!)
  2. Don't get upset when something runs out. Stores have a limited number of door buster items and they sell out QUICKLY (one time a customer ripped a bag of one of our door buster items (about 50 of them) out of one of my associates hands and bought them all.) Usually within 10 or 15 minutes. So if you don't get what you want, move on. Don't get angry at the employees (again, who have no control over how many of that item that they got.) There are plenty of good deals to go around.
  3. If the crowds scare you remember: most stores offer their Black Friday Deals all weekend, or the day or two before. So don't feel like you have to be there at midnight. Sure, some of the door busters will be gone (see #3 above.) but likely a lot of the items you want will still be there. Go to bed at home, wake up at 3am and hit the stores then. Usually by 4 or 5 lines are MUCH shorter and you can walk in, get what you need and get out in a reasonable amount of time. Or go shopping Friday afternoon, or Saturday or Wednesday. Check your favorite stores websites to see what they are offering. Sometimes you can get the same prices early or online, or if you sign up for their mailing list, have a store credit card, etc. 
  4. Keep perspective: It's just shopping. Sure you might save $50 on a TV. Sure you can get all your holiday needs fulfilled in 1 frantic evening. But it's not worth pushing other people, yelling or loosing your humanity. Is that $19 food processor the cost of your humanity? I didn't think so. 
  5. DO NOT bring your kids. Every year I see people with toddlers and small kids in tow. Black Friday shopping is rated T for Teen. No one under the age of 15 should be with you. Smaller kids should be in bed sleeping, not waiting in a packed line and screaming at the top of their lungs.
  6. Finally: Be nice to the employees. Remember, that cashier ringing you up makes around minimum wage and probably left dinner with his family early to be at the store at 11:30pm so you could shop. So smile, tell them how great they are doing, thank them. Kindness goes along way. But wait, you say, it's not my fault! I am only being rude to the cashier because I am tired and cold and crowds give me hives! If this is your rationale: stay home. If you can't be cheery and nice while you shop, don't go out.
If you love the sport of it all, but all means have a great time and get a great deal. But if the idea of the whole thing panics you, just stay home and shop online. I've seen people have breakdowns because things get too nutty. But have fun. And be nice. And stay safe. And unofficially, if you come to my store (I'm there 11pm to 11am) bring me a cookie and a giant Diet Coke. 
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