Black Friday’s roots stretch back to the mid-1800s and share the name with the Fisk & Gould gold scandal. Why not gold Friday, you ask? (You may not have asked but this makes a fantastic segue.) Because the only ones really benefiting from this scheme were (you guessed it) Fisk and his buddy, Gould. They manipulated the markets through speculation and raised the price of gold an average of 30% from the time that the current president, Ulysses S Grant, took office.
Black Friday, being a terrible day in American history, is the very reason why the Philadelphia Police Department branded the Friday after Thanksgiving with the that same endearing title. The automotive and pedestrian traffic that filled the streets overwhelmed police officers and store owners alike. Why the frenzy? The Thanksgiving Day parades of course!
The euphoria fed the spending. Hopped up on Santa, Macy*s, and possibly methane from the poor sewer systems, people went on buying sprees.
It was the perfect time to tackle Christmas shopping. With balance books heading south into the red, merchants used lower than average prices to get people in the doors. This influx of income brought their books back into the black, which shaped the current “Black Friday” expression. Many people loved this new Black Friday. Some hated it. Still others merely hoped it would pass like a bad storm or a kidney stone.
Jammed roadways and crazed people are still trademarks of the shopping holiday. Tents appear like moss near retailers days before. Mass speculation of the offerings of each store tear through the internet. And consumers are left guessing whether they should have taken the spot in the lean-to beside Fry’s Electronics that their brother-in-law erected from Dell boxes and packing tape or just stayed home to shop online.
To survive the venture, one either must be lucky or well prepared. Some key moves exist to help in your quest for low prices. For example, one approach is the “sit on a given item while a loved one, hired hand, or well-trained falcon looks for a better deal” strategy. Also, there’s the “use one hand to check prices on Google Products with your 3G mobile phone while you box out others at DVD and video game racks with the other hand” maneuver. You may also want to recruit family members for the classic “divide and conquer the sales” approach in which you split up and cover all the major stores.
Abraham Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Im not suggesting you bring weapons, although in concealed carry states… I digress. The moral of honest Abe’s sharp axe story is: planning! Prioritize your buys and shop accordingly! Do you need the Margaritaville Three Pitcher Drink Dispenser? Or is the 82″ DLP going to even fit in the Yugo mom gave you? Furthermore do you have enough rations to trade the tent-people to jump ahead in line since you can’t get up before 4:00 AM?
For online Black Friday deal seekers a different approach is needed. One cannot simply forgo showering for days to achieve the classic “Pig Pen” effect, which creates an impermeable stench-zone arrant you to help protect your interests. You can’t avoid contending with the faceless masses when online. This means you need to out-smart them.
First off, organization is key. Have your spam e-mail address ready to filter your deal alerts or get with it and make a “junk” e-mail account. Also become familiar with the current prices of hot items and also the purchases you want to score for cheap. Look for mail-in rebates, coupon codes, and upcoming sale announcements to get the absolute lowest prices without waiting in line. By shopping online with a plan, you’ll save your first bit of money by not having to buy hand warmers from Black Friday opportunists.
Perhaps your greatest tool for preparation is our Black Friday 2010 forum. As the date creeps closer and closer, it has become a yearly practice for our members to post ad-scans, prices, and sales into our forums for nearly every brick and mortar and online store. To give our members an edge, we create lists of store hours, tax rates, and shipping cut-off times. Our members help each other by voting on deals. And those topics deemed most interesting can be “stickied” by individuals to keep them at the top of their personal view. We also make an effort to attach a product link to anything mentioned to make shopping easier, so you can make the most informed purchases possible.
Black Friday in its inception was a rare alignment of monetary lunacy and a last-gasp attempt to break even and has blossomed into complete monetary lunacy and a planned negative profit margin until the holiday season. Either way it means a whole lot of stuff is on sale and you need a bigger car and another P.O. box.
In closing, if you see a Fatwallet green tent camped outside of Toys R Us, stop and see if they need more caffeinated soap or space ice cream. Then, pull up a folding chair stay a while.