Yesterday, I decided to brave the crowds and do the early morning Black Friday thing. I've done it in the past and found it a little thrilling to go in search of that must-have doorbuster. My only rule is that I never go to Walmart. I've been there, done that, and I must say it's a little frightening. At other stores -- Shopko, Target, and the like -- there's a sort of "we're all in this together" feel from the other shoppers. People will hand you items through the crowd if you want and the mood is jolly. The hunt for bargains is an exciting treasure hunt.
At Walmart, it's a whole different story. It's like someone broke a pinata at a birthday party for mean greedy kids. It's every man for himself. So I avoid Walmart like the plague on Black Friday.
Yesterday, I broke that rule because my two boys both want Lego sets for Christmas. Walmart had a two-day special on the King's Castle Siege Set -- $110 at Amazon, but only $50 at Walmart. I decided to try the Walmart in a smaller city south of here, in hopes that the craziness would be a bit toned down. I arrived at 4:50 to find the entire parking lot full with tons of cars driving up and down looking for spots. I had to park at a nearby Quiznos and hike over. I was a little confused to find no line outside, but when I got inside, I saw the reason why -- every aisle was jammed packed with shrink-wrapped pallets and people waiting for the 5:00 time. I got a cart, but soon had to abandon it because there was barely room for a person to get through, much less one with a cart. I had a credit card and driver's license in my pocket and was ready to go. I was jammed in the toy section, unable to get to the Lego aisle, much less search the pallets for the set I wanted, when they announced 5:00 over the loudspeakers. The resulting melee was truly amazing. People were ripping plastic wrap, grabbing ripsticks, barbie jeeps, and who knows what else. Within one minute, I was able to walk across an empty pallet on my way to the Legos. I got to the aisle and found no King's Castle set anywhere. The frenzy was going on all around me, and I could see no way down the main aisle, so I headed back and around, hoping that there would still be a set left by the time I got there. At the back of the aisle, there was one other customer, holding a King's Castle set. They were right there, and no one was around. I took three (one for my boys to share and the others for two of my friends who were wisely sleeping in) and was on my way through the madness. My main item scored, I somehow managed to weave my way through the frenzy. It took me about ten minutes to even reach the front of the store. Before checking out, I was able to find several sets of Star Wars Clone War Jammies for $4, DVDs for $2, a Rubbermaid container set for $7. After waiting in an enormous line to check out, I headed over to K-Mart and then Staples for a few things, where the crowds were small and jolly.
I made it through and got what I wanted, but I didn't realize until this morning that I may have been taking my life in my hands. People will kill for a bargain at Walmart, and yesterday, in Long Island, they literally did. Pretty scary. I'm so sad that in order to save a few dollars, people will disregard common decency and respect. This poor man's family.
I think I'll stick to my rule from now on.