The Black Friday ceasefire
It’s 2 PM on Black Friday in the North Dartmouth Target. The parking lot is full, but then that’s the norm for this store, which acts as a major retail center for both nearby New Bedford and UMass Dartmouth students. I enter, hoping to see signs of the much hyped shopping frenzy that apparently always happens on this day. Violence and mayhem, crazed shoppers racing down the aisles to get the last 60-inch LCD television; it’d make for a great story.
Only, there was none of that. To my dismay, Target’s shelves looked exactly the same as they always did. Well, there were a few exceptions. The shoe department was largely clear, which wasn’t uncommon either. All around me, piles of items with “Sale!” and “Door buster!” signs sat unpurchased.
I sauntered over to the electronics section. Electronics and games are in high demand during the holidays, and I figured they’d be clear. To my dismay, the only games on sale (and, subsequently, the only ones sold out) were that bane of every serious gamer’s existence: shovelware, those cheaply made titles based on movies and TV shows that game developers devilishly scheme into the shopping carts of unsuspecting parents shopping for their soon-to-be-devastated kids.
Feeling a bit distraught about this, I ducked into the TV section. This had to be it. This was where the mortal combat would happen, the whirlwind of shoppers and employees wheeling giant-screen TVs out of storage. To my shock, every TV on the wall was unsold. I was speechless.
Then my senses got the better of me. These were floor models. The merchandise would be in the back. I just had to wait here, beside the cell phones, for the wheeling to begin. So I did. I eyed the smartphones in jealousy, wondering what kind of upgrade I could get on my iPhone 3g. I kept an eye down the TV corridor. Surely, someone would emerge from the back with a TV. Minutes passed. I had been anticipating seconds.
Finally, it happened. An employee named Devon stumbled out of the back with a 60-inch plasma TV on a cart. He struggled to keep it upright as he handed it off to a customer. I approached him. “Hey, is it me, or are TV’s not selling very quickly?”
“They’re not,” he replied. “Last year at this time we were completely sold out. This year, we still have a lot in stock.”
Odd. I wandered towards the exit, pondering why the North Dartmouth Target’s Black Friday was decidedly gray this year. Perhaps it was the economy. Maybe everyone got the TVs they wanted last year. Maybe there’s just nothing good on TV on Fridays. Before I exit, I buy a Snickers bar. My little contribution to Black Friday.