As a mother of three small children, Black Friday is an excellent opportunity to purchase toys, pajamas, and appliances at affordable low prices. As a faithful black Friday shopper, you check your ads, make a list, call in reinforcements to ensure you cover the entire store, and show up to your destinations hours before sale time. This year however, I was not the shopper, I was the family reinforcement to grab an item for a cousin. Wal-Mart was our destination and on that Thursday night we came together as a team of three. The crowd at Wal-Mart was larger, much larger than I had ever anticipated or have seen during my years of Black Friday shopping. The cars covered every inch of not only the Wal-Mart parking lot but Staples, the car wash, Goodwill, Taco Bell and in some places the grass alongside Wal-mart. We did not turn away. We were on a mission. We were Black Friday Ninjas.
Everything was going as planned. We separated to our posts, stood directly in front of our products, called one another to confirm the plan was still in place and check on each other's safety . We then waited for the anticipated signal to snatch our items. The signal never came. Not from the store but the confused masses who decided since someone else was grabbing so should they. Once my item was safely in my possession, I begin to try to run across the store to meet up with my ninja team. I was meet instead by a Wal-Mart black Friday experience I never would have anticipated.
Apparently, Wal-Mart had decided to block off the ENTIRE middle section of the store. The clothes department was now a full fledge clothes maze that confusingly lead the shopper to the check out lanes. I came to a full realization that in order to meet my team on the Produce side, which was the other side of the store , I had to be brave the frantic pushing, shoving crowd all the way around the store before I could get to the other side. Not wanting to be placed in this sort of predicament, especially since my item was already in my hand, I decided to enter the clothes maze and just wait for my comrades to join me upfront. A elderly lady also joined me, and chit chatted politely with me while waiting in line. She too had gotten some items but because mobility was limited to only specific areas and the crowd was so enormously large, she too had decided it was not worth venturing into the destructive path made by Wal-Mart just to purchase additional items. I watched as the crowd was literally herded like cattle in the designated shopping path, making Black Friday at Wal-Mart go from extreme shopping to dangerous sport. Upon arriving at the front of the line to be directed to my check out lane, I explained my need to wait to for my team. Instead of being able to stand to the side to wait, I was yelled at and scorned like child and eventually kicked out thankfully, on the produce side. Reunited with my black Friday team we once again entered "The Maze" to check out. By this time, shoppers were now crawling underneath racks of clothing to enter the maze, irritating and infuriating other shoppers who had to follow the maze rules.
First and foremost, I would like to say that mazes with little direction do not work. Secondly, just because we live in Iowa does not mean that we should be herded like Iowa cattle. Black Friday is all about creating an illusion of scarcity and getting shoppers worked into a buying frenzy. Shoppers need to be able to access your products in order to buy them. Forcing customers into a tight spot with no access to your products is not going to produce sells, only accidents. If you think about it, the check out lane no matter how long the line is, will always be one of the most calming parts for black Friday shoppers because you already have everything that you need. Not to mention, the sales you lose from other older customers who wish to buy other products but refuse to do so because the product is basically inaccessible. Additionally, suggestive selling of other low item products are impossible when you cant even see them because of the lack of room. Most importantly, those products will not sell if there is no price listed on the display. Shoppers love to get a deal, that's why their in the store in the first place. Why wouldn't you want a shopper to see first hand how much their saving on a product that may not be on their list? Not producing a visual price for a customer is ensuring a product will not be noticed or even purchased because that shopper has no idea how great of deal it is.
I simply love finding and fighting for Black Friday specials. Black Friday will always be a rat race and year by year that rat race is becoming larger and larger. Never in my wildest black Friday dreams would I ever think that a store would treat their customers like rats and even worse make the cheese harder to get.