Story by EMILY HILLEY-SIERZCHULA
Photos by JULIE NABOURS
Any Black Friday shopping veteran can tell you the experience is not for the faint of heart. Yet amid the expected chaos is time for fun and camaraderie with friends and family.
Melissa Peloquin, a caseworker with MHMR originally from the El Paso area but a Temple resident for 10 years, has been braving Black Friday since her high school days.
“We’d camp out to get ready for the stores opening at midnight and my mom would make me stand in line,” she recalled. “We were just teenagers keeping the place in line for Mom and Dad.” Then they would have a grand ole time wandering around the stores while their parents shopped.
Things definitely have changed since her teenage years, especially in terms of planning. “Now that I’m an adult I have to do all the legwork, such as look for parking and lines at the register.”
Plenty of times she’s been lured online because of the convenience — no parking required. “However, if I do have some things to get, my adult daughter and I plan out our Black Friday shopping by store and we know what deals we must buy.”
Is it worth it?
Everyone has seen news footage of Black Friday chaos, people bowling each other over for the last TV. Peloquin has sustained only one minor injury. She was kneeling down looking at an item, a crush of humanity surrounding her, when a lady with a cart full of toys ran into her.
“She was just trying to make it through, but there were so many people around us she didn’t see me,” Peloquin said. “It can get crazy, with people pushing and shoving, having arguments. You’re trying to do a good deed, getting Christmas presents for your family, and there’s people getting arrested. I’m thinking, ‘Why would you fight for a TV?’”
As far as deals, Peloquin has won some and lost some. A few years ago, she and friends were ready for the midnight madness at a department store, attempting to buy some cute boots. “The crowds were so big everything was gone before we even got to the shoe department,” Peloquin said, laughing. All that was left were brown boots for the tiniest of feet. “We got some jewelry on sale, and also saw some people being arrested for shoplifting.”
Most of her recollections of Black Friday are positive, and good deals, especially on electronics, keep her going back into the store instead of in a virtual store at home.
“I wouldn’t normally pay full price for many of the items I can get on sale during Black Friday,” she said. “I’m looking for half off, or as much as I can get away with.”
She is also trying to beat pre-Black Friday sales, with her Christmas list in mind.
A few pro tips
Pay attention to when sales are announced, often the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Peloquin advised. “From there I’ll decide whether to tackle the crowds or not,” she said. Ideally, she wants to have to visit just one store. “The parking lots can be crazy, just ridiculous.”
Peloquin keeps a low profile by taking a minimum of cards, just a debit card and ID, and her phone. “I usually carry a big purse but this I way I have my hands free.”
She no longer camps out for the door-buster deals, but she suggests arriving an hour early even if it means a stint in line. Maybe you’ll even meet some new friends.
Denise Dasse, general manager at the Killeen Mall, would not commit to being labeled a Black Friday shopper. However, she’s always on the lookout for good deals. “I’m at the mall every day,” Dasse said. “But during Black Friday there’s always something that entices me.”
Dasse reminds people the huge storefront signs can’t tell it all. “You have to go inside and keep your eyes peeled for those deals.”
Friends and family
Black Friday is about more than searching for sales: It’s also a time for camaraderie.
Dasse sees the family atmosphere during Black Friday shopping at the mall. “People are in a good mood, out visiting with each other.” Online shopping can’t compare when it comes to ambiance. “Everything is decorated, we have music playing and seasonal events,” Dasse said. The Black Friday opening time is to be determined, but in the past the mall has opened at 7 a.m., with many stores open on Thanksgiving. “We’ve had lines outside, no matter the weather.”
For the Peloquin family, the evening starts out with coffee and buying snacks for the wait in line with friends or neighbors. Sometimes they’ll be energized on a hot breakfast before heading out to the stores.
Make no mistake: The in-store strategy requires more than one shopper.
“One person might go get the item we’re after while another friend waits in line to pay, because that’s also usually a long line,” Peloquin said.
After a few hours of shopping they’ll visit an all-night restaurant for more coffee and to relax. “We’re usually pretty pumped up afterward.”
What’s the best part? “Hiding the purchases for wrapping later,” Peloquin said.
Did you know?
According to the National Retail Federation, holiday retail sales in November and December are expected to increase between 3.6 and 4 percent for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year (excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants), citing a high degree of consumer confidence and a healthy economy as reasons for the expected growth.