Yesterday we had the entire family over for Thanksgiving and it was a nice, though hectic, time.
Afterwards, the wife, the kids, and I cleaned up the mess left behind and put away everything that needed putting away.
By around 8 P.M. with all that done (some had other places to go, others had longish rides back home, while many were simply early risers and don’t hang out too long), we decided, what the hell, let’s head out to our nearby Target and check out the Black Friday sales.
According to their promo ads and as you can see below, the store opened at a very early 5 P.M.
I recall how in years past we would rush through Thanksgiving and then run out to a store like Target and others hurrying to pick up on that deal you just had to have.
This year, though, we didn’t rush at all. Indeed, when we left at 8 P.M. to go out there, we had two items in mind we were curious to get -pretty good deals, certainly- but we kinda/sorta figured these items wouldn’t be the “hot” items everyone might be going after. As it turned out, we were wrong about one of them and took a subsequent journey to a farther away (but not too far) Target to get said second item -they were able to verify the other store had the particular item in stock- and, after going there, our night of not-so-frenzied Black Friday shopping was done.
Interestingly, we didn’t find terribly big crowds in either Target store. In years past, there were police cars outside the entry and police within, watching to make sure the crowds behaved. And in the past, this was very necessary.
But this time around, and I’ll grant you it was a few hours into the Black Friday opening blitz, things were supremely calm.
Which got me thinking about the way things change over time.
If you look closely at that picture I posted above, you’ll notice that after stating when the Target stores would open and on the bottom of that black circle you have this: Shop deals now at Target.com
The internet, like so many things, has disrupted/changed the Black Friday experience.
I suspect the crowds simply weren’t all that great because the items one might be crazy about getting -even those we wound up getting- we probably could have just ordered online earlier in the day and not bothered with our trek to Target.
In years past I’d look in amazement at footage of crowds tsunami-like entering a store at its opening, of people quite literally fighting for items, and I suspect that while this may still happen, its probably muted somewhat nowadays because one can order these things online.
Which made me think of how many things have been changed of late.
I suppose its a function of aging: As one gets older -and assuming one pays attention- you see changes.
For example, when I was younger, I hung out in malls to check out two types of stores: The bookstores and the music/CD stores.
I’d hang in the bookstore for a while checking out the latest books, then saunter over to the music/CD store and check out what CDs they had (there was a time –damn I’m old- when these stores had records and cassettes!).
With the arrival of the MP3 file, the CD, which took over for both the vinyl record (though that has made a comeback) and cassette was effectively neutralized. While I frown heavily upon pirate copying of artistic works, the reality was that suddenly people had access, both legally and illegally, to pretty much all music via the internet and, seemingly overnight, the music stores disappeared.
Today, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and their likes still have small sections featuring CDs and, ironically enough, bigger sections within those music sections featuring vinyl records.
But the days of the music stores -other than those catering to the vinyl record industry- are effectively over.
The other store I would spend hours in was the bookstore.
As someone who fancies himself a writer, it remains incredible to me that I simply don’t miss bookstores. Once, I had at least two very large ones within less than 20 minutes of me. Borders was the largest, a mega-book/music/video store. When Borders went out of business, I mourned the loss, but not all that much.
By then, I was almost fully into digital copies of books, having a Kindle reader and an iPad for both purposes. When our local Comic Book store also shut down, I realized just how much interesting stuff was likewise available online (again, legally purchased!). I’ve read more interesting comic books in the past year or so than I have in the previous five or more years and the range of interesting titles which are available, and which I can download in a matter of seconds, is astonishing.
This post is not intended to be a lamentation of the “good old days”. While I truly did enjoy the hell out of myself back then driving to brick and mortal stores for music, videos, and books/comic books, and I really don’t like the fact that so many small, independent businesses are no longer able to survive selling these items, as a consumer I’ve never had so much available to me.
Perhaps too much!
I’m into nostalgia as much if not more than most people, but one must also face the reality of the present.
Black Friday, it seems to me, is something that is in the next few years going to change. No longer will we marvel/be horrified by the crowds rushing into stores like we were before and, I suppose, that’s a good thing considering some of the fights/injuries that happened.
It’s also a sign of how things inevitably change.