Greeley shoppers flood mall, search for Black Friday deals amid sleep depriviation
By Jason Pohl
Rachel Rhoadarmer hates shopping.
The monotony of buying things all year — necessities or gifts — just isn’t for her. Too often it becomes a routine that she in no way looks forward to each week.
But all bets are off when Black Friday arrives each November.
“It’s the only day I like to shop,” she said Friday while taking a break with her family at the Greeley Mall’s food court.
Her eyes, awake since before the rush began at 4 a.m., were weary. Her husband’s were even worse. But that’s part of the challenge, she said.
It’s part of the game.
For the past 20 years, the shopping rush has transformed from a fun excuse to buy stuff to a tradition she has pinned down to a science and doesn’t plan on giving up any time soon.
Now 32, Rhoadarmer remembered her dad driving her to the stores when she was in 9th grade — or maybe it was 8th. The deals have changed over the years, and she remembers stores that used to dole out free snow globes and gift cards.
Nowadays, stores offer massive price cuts that entice shoppers.
It may be different now, but the Rhoadarmers — who started their day at The Home Depot before jumping to Car Toys, Target and Sears — still look forward each year to the adrenaline and camaraderie that comes with every Black Friday adventure.
“It’s like Christmas,” she said laughing through a slightly menacing grin. “I’ve had a great experience.”
Black Friday is typically seen as the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season where retailers either make it or bust.
But with Thanksgiving this year several days later than normal, it meant a shortened time frame for retailers to make it financially or remain stuck in the red.
And that meant stores opening earlier than ever — including around 6 p.m. Thanksgiving day.
Though final numbers won’t be tallied for several days, early reports from national retailers including Walmart and Target indicated higher-than-usual sales both in-store and online, especially during the evening hours Thursday.
That didn’t sit well with Connie Stewart, who took a break near the JC Penney entrance at the Greeley Mall.
Shoppers flooded the aisles and areas near the checkout stands long into the afternoon, and while some looked like they hadn’t slept in weeks, Stewart didn’t buy into it.
She cringed at the idea of fighting crowds on Thanksgiving Day, and said the only reason she was out perusing Friday afternoon was because she thought it would be a “fun” way to spend a day off.
“I think it just takes away from family. Big time,” Stewart said.
She had to have dinner early Thursday because she has family who work in the retail world and got called in to handle the store openings.
“It’s pushed too much,” she said of Black Friday. “Nothing is that important to me.”
But for some people, getting the goods was everything, as evidenced by websites on the rise, including www.blackfridaydeathcount.com, which chronicles deaths and injuries that happen every year the day after Thanksgiving.
When police responded on Thursday to a Chicago-area Kohl’s on reports of shoplifters, one officer ended up having his arm slammed in a fleeing vehicle’s door before being dragged. Another officer then opened fire on the vehicle’s driver.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, shoppers threw punches and pulled knives in an altercation over a parking spot at a Walmart.
Greeley police reported no major incidents related to Black Friday shopping, and by midday, the mad rush was over.
Some people still walked through the mall in an apparent sleep-deprived state like zombies, but most people hadn’t been out for more than a few hours.
Bigger retailers like Sears and JC Penney appeared to be doing well, at least based on the bags people were clutching.
It may be early in the shopping season, but for Rhoadarmer, it’s already about looking ahead to next year so she can further refine the science of Black Friday shopping.
The winning formula, she’s decided, means waking up early, even with the massive crowds and cost-cutting deals. People would rather stay up late than wake up early, which means you’ve got a better chance at landing deals you really want.
It’s the method she used this year, and it worked, she said. As for the mounds of good deals and cost-cutting steals loaded in her car, she wasn’t about to say what hot items she landed.
They’re gifts, she said. They’re a secret.
Pohl, J. (2013, November 29), Greeley shoppers flood mall, search for Black Friday deals amid sleep depriviation, The Tribune, (December 2, 2013), www.greeleytribune.com/news/9105452-113/friday-black-deals-early