What I Learned from My First Black Friday Experience
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What I Learned from My First Black Friday Experience

And Why I Probably Won't Do It Again Any Time Soon

What I Learned from My First Black Friday Experience
David Biskup/ Wired

Leaving home the first time for college is hard enough. Having your best friends go to school many states over is even harder. But nothing unites the girls back together like a marathon shopping trip. We decided to do a Black Friday all-nighter, and from there just about everything went wrong.

The plan was to leave Richmond at 2am Friday Morning, drive 2.5 hours to Potomac Mills (one of Virginia’s best malls), get our shopping done before the morning rush, then get back home late morning. Looking back now, that was a very overzealous plan.

As soon as we hit the highway, the friend driving got tired. We looped back around to sleep at a friend’s house right off of the highway and decided that we should get a couple of hours of sleep before we tried again. We certainly aren’t quitters. We all woke up early, got a power breakfast, and set off again. This time we toned down our ambitions and went to the best mall in our area (Short Pump), but nonetheless, we were still searching for the thrill.

One of the most taxing part of the experience was driving endlessly around the parking lots in the search of a decent spot. We upset a lot of middle-aged women in mini vans when we hopped out of the car and waited for my friend to pull around into the spot, but oh well. I figured it was just a part of the game anyway.

Once we got to the mall, I was underwhelmed. Many stores were unnecessarily messy and there were none of the alleged “doorbusters” in sight. This might be partly due to the fact that we missed the Thursday night opening of the mall, partly because the mall we were at consisted of many nice stores who normally don’t have sales anyway, and partly because Black Friday normally ends before Friday at noon. A few popular stores like Victoria’s Secret and H&M had endlessly long lines but other than that it felt like every other store had its normal amount of customer traffic.

What I gathered from my first Black Friday experience is that the excitement of it all is purely a product of media hype. We are inundated by advertisements for companies that make us think that if we don’t participate, we are missing out on a major, once in a lifetime deal. Images of grannies fighting over toys in Walmart and people running over each other in Target to get the most popular items only plays into the American idea of the love of competition. The truth is, the holiday shopping is riddled with “deal” after deal, and the one you may get on Black Friday will be back three or four times before Christmas. Leaving your family on Thanksgiving afternoon to wait in line for the hopes of saving a few dollars just doesn’t seem completely worth it to me.

If you see something you’ve had your eye on that normally costs $1,500 and there’s a Black Friday deal to get it for $1,200, you don’t save $300 you still spend $1,200. If you look at it this way, everyone lines up for Black Friday is still spending obscene amounts of money regardless. As a college student, there are a lot smarter things I could have done with my time and money than wait in line for 45 minutes in Victoria’s secret for a $10 bralette. Truth be told, that was the only “deal” I could justify since I would have paid full price for it anyway.

As a young adult, Black Friday made me realize what really matters in the holiday season: saving money and spending time with the family I haven’t seen in months. Being lured in by consumerism and media hype just to spend hours waiting in line doesn’t profit me, it profits the CEOs of major companies. I gained so much more satisfaction spending time with my family and my dog than I ever can standing in line in crowds of strangers, driving endlessly around searching for a parking spot, and dealing with exhausted retail employees. Black Friday was fun because I was with my best friends, but without them, it would have been quite a headache. In my experience, the event was nothing but hype. I’m glad I got to experience it, but I’ve learned that my vacation time can be spent doing more fun activities with my friends and family that don’t involve spending.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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