Black Friday Success and Insanity!

Being a computer guy, I used to go the Black Friday sales most years.  There was always something worth getting.  A cheap computer, a laptop, a DVD player, packs of CD-Rs, hard drives, DVDs etc.

But when you get out of college and are earning real money, the idea of saving a few hundred bucks isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be.  So for a few years, I skipped the early morning sales in favor of sleeping in.

Before, we would usually get in line around 4am, with the stores opening at 6am.  If we showed up 2 hours before opening, we would usually be around 30-50th in line, which was usually plenty to get whatever we were after.

So this year when I saw that Circuit City was selling the Sharp Aquos 46″ 1080p HD LCD flat panel TV for $1299 ($1200 off what they were asking before) I figued it would be worth trying to pickup one, as both my wife and I had agreed that we needed a new TV in our living room.

My first clue that things had changed was when I was driving home from Thanksgiving dinner at my aunts when I saw about 50-75 people already standing in line at the Best Buy by her house.  It was not even 9pm yet!!

INSANE!!  These people had tents out and fires going.  It was really really cold out, and these people were insane.

I drove past the Circuit City by my house, which only had 25 or so people in front of it, but still…. it was only 9:30!

I went home and did some research.  Circuit City was going to be passing out tickets for their most in demand items, which I figured would include the TV. 

 From most the posts online, it seemed that 3am might be when they come out with the tickets.  So, after some deep consideration, (and amazingly some encouragement from my wife) we decided to go (my wife does this stuff with me, she is really a keeper) at 2:45 am, stick around for (hopefully 15 minutes) to see if we would get one of the tickets for the TV.  If not, we would just go home and go back to bed.

So, at 2:25, after 2 hours of sleep, the alarm went off and we got up.  I put on a undershirt, 2 tshirts, a long sleeve shirt, a sweat shirt, a windbreaker, and a coat.  On my legs I had 2 pairs of sweat paints, some warmup pants and jeans.  But I only had 2 pairs of socks, so before it would be all over, my toes would be frozen, but the rest of me was nice and warm.

So we showed up at Circuit City at 2:50am to find a line of people 200 or so long.  It stretched across the entire Circuit City, across the parking lot, across the entire ALDIstore next to it before making a right turn and heading out 200 ft into the parking lot.

The store on the right is not Circuit City, it is ALDI.  Circuit City is 100 yards away behind the ALDI.

You can see in the picture above the entrance to ALDI in the background.  Circuit City is on the other side of the parking lot, out of view.  It’s about 100 yards away.  Below you can see how far the line continued in the other direction.

In the other direction the line stretched the length of the parking lot. 

We talked with a few people, and it seemed that everyone was here for the TVs.  Great…. (not).  Kathleen convinced me to stick around for a little bit longer, but as time ticked on, it became clear that our plan of finding out our fate at 3am was not going to work out.

3:15, 3:30, 4:00… still nothing.

Then at 4:15 they started passing out the tickets.  Only a few items made it back to our place in line, and they were nothing I wanted.  We asked about the TVs, expecting to hear that they were all accounted for, but the guy said that they were NOT ticket items, and that we would have to go to the TV section and either find (if they were on the floor) or order one.

It was still not looking good, but Kathleen again convinced me to stay.  She had some things she wanted too, stuff like USB flash drives for her students and some The Office DVDs for her brother. 

So we waited till 5:00 with me taking a 5 minute break to warm up my toes in the car. 

When we finally got into the store, Kathleen managed to get in line before me in the TV section, so I went searching for her items.

I found 5 flash drives (the limit) and the DVDs she wanted, paid for them, and met her back in line that had formed in the TV section of the store.

It was now 5:30 or so, and she was getting pretty close to the front.  There were 2 people in front of her when we heard the guy tell the person that they got the last 46″ Aquos TV.

I was pretty bummbed to hear this, not because I didn’t expect it, but because we had come so close.

The guy behind Kathleen was beside himself, as he had been in line since 9pm the night before.  When he got into the store, they sent him to the wrong line to buy the TV, and he had to get back into line behind a lot of other people… that must have really sucked.

So I told her to ask about the 42″, assuming that the 46″ was gone.

However, the lady in front of us found out that they could “special order” the TVs from the warehouse inventory, so long as we paid the $70 for them to deliver it to our house. 

This was the best news I had heard all day!

We placed the order, but I was not going to celebrate until the TV was in the house.  I could see them pulling some kind of crap and trying to get out of honoring the sale if they ran out of inventory in the warehouse or something.

But, this morning they came rolling up with our new TV!

It looks great!

So the lessons I learned are:

1) Wear 3 pairs of socks

2) Black friday has gotten WAY worse the last 2 years

3) I am lucky to be married to someone who likes to go do these crazy things with me



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