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November 26, 2010 | 2:23 p.m. CST
I’m sort of careless when it comes to money. I came to that realization when I had to call my mom at the end of October to tell her I spent rent money on a Halloween costume. If I was going to be Flo the Progressive girl, I just had to have the $60 Converse sneakers she wears, right?
I wasn’t always this way, though. I grew up in a household where saving money was the staple of Schallon family values. My grandpa won the award for most frugal. He would always spot hidden treasures on the side of the highway. Like the hawkeyed sale shoppers on Black Friday, he’d quickly snatch the kill. One time his roadside gem was a pair of Tommy Hilfiger women’s shorts. Yes, they were my size. Yes, I wore them.Related Links
I remember once telling Grandpa that I would never spend more than $25 on a bag. Now, I tote around Marc Jacobs and Betsey Johnson. When it rains, I sport a Coach umbrella and rain boots. When I dress up, I zip up my BCBG booties.
As if my shopaholicism isn’t bad enough, I despise the word “sale.” Something about it rubs me the wrong way: I think "cheap", "outdated," "frugal." My utter distaste for the word developed after nabbing my first job in retail. Sale shoppers tore through piles of clothes before my eyes, and I’d be left to salvage what was left of our clearance presentation. I vowed to never be one of those shoppers. Five years and 11 purchase-log pages later, I haven’t broken my promise.
My shopping habits are ridiculous, bratty even, but now faced with the real world just months away, I’m seriously trying to put an end to my aversion to bargain shopping — and there's no better way to break the habit than to participate in Black Friday, one of the biggest sale days of the shopping season.
Black Friday is a retail worker’s enemy. My Thanksgiving food coma is abruptly awakened by a buzzing alarm clock each year. I trudge off to work in the wee hours of the morning to deal with some of the scariest shoppers known to mallkind. So, this year, I went behind enemy lines and I plotted out my battle plan: I would be a discount shopper.
Armed with a large cup of coffee and the company of my good friend Aaron, who is also a Black Friday virgin, I arrived at Target at 3 a.m. It was one hour before the doors opened, and the line already looped across the back of the building.
A saleswoman wiggled her way down the line warning customers that if they threw ’bows, they’d be thrown out. “Oh my God, what have we gotten ourselves into?” I questioned Aaron.
In front of us, a woman dressed in a bright orange jacket boasted that this was her third store of the day. First Toys "R" Us, then Kohl’s, then here. She left straight from Thanksgiving dinner to make her shopping rounds, and she still hadn’t slept. By the looks of all the coffee cups scattered in line, I don’t think many people had.
As the time neared closer, excitement set in. All I could think of were the Sex and the City seasons waiting for me inside, each only $10. It’s not the most life-changing purchase, but for me it was a start to sale shopping.
I thought a loud buzzer would sound as the clock struck 4 a.m., but instead the sudden forward rush of shopping soldiers invading the store marked D-Day. Group by group, we marched around the corner, intensity building with every step, until we crossed the point of no return and entered the store. Chaos.
The woman in front of me was already nowhere to be found. People were making a mad dash for the cash register with TVs in arms. The quick path to the DVD section that I had mapped beforehand was blocked off. Following Aaron’s lead, we twisted through the crowds.
Suddenly, he stopped beneath the bedding sign. “Look at this!” he exclaimed like a 5-year-old running through the toy section. “$5 for an extra-firm pillow?” Everyone around began to laugh. Who waits in line on Black Friday for a pillow? My best friend does, apparently.
We dodged shopping carts and a frantic woman making a break for the toy aisle and finally arrived at our destination. I felt like a mouse searching through the maze for cheese. But sadly, my cheese wasn’t there.
The only SATC remnants left were full-price package sets, and as a newfound discount shopper, I was not about to drop $160 for them. Admitting defeat, we trudged along and tried to find the end to the forever-long line that had now formed.
Approaching the line, I suddenly saw a glimpse of hope. Hidden behind a woman bearing two sets of Nurf guns was my prize, a $60 SATC DVD set. Victoriously, I rushed to the makeshift movie shelves standing outside the children’s clothing section. I swiped them away and fist-pumped the air.
In only 13 minutes, we were in and out of the store, Sarah Jessica Parker and pillow in hands. I was alive, and I was surprisingly happy. Who knew sale shopping would actually be more rewarding than the full-priced counterpart?
Now, if only Christian Louboutin participated in Black Friday, my illness would be cured.