I probably won’t live to see it, but someday there will be Black Monday Christmas sales that fall on Labor Day.
First, retailers moved the times of the Friday after Thanksgiving sales from 6 to 4 a.m. and, lately, midnight. Vonette and I were back at our respective mothers’ homes in Anderson, S.C., for Thanksgiving so I witnessed true madness in my formerly sleepy hometown that is now fully awake.
I did this after two Thanksgiving dinners, first at noon at my mother’s house and then at Cracker Barrel with Vonette’s side of the family. Our daughter’s family, husband, Daniel, and children Benjamin and Isabel, fell on both sides, so that livened things up considerably and blessedly.
Some of the “door buster’’ sales started at 4 p.m., so Jessica had time to snag a deal on a submersible blender. Submersible. I guess that means you can use it in the pool or the bathtub, but I’m not sure.
Speaking of door-busters, there were plenty at Cracker Barrel, especially after they ate.
Cracker Barrel lets you go online to get on a waiting list, but they shut it down for Thanksgiving. I learned this by phone because we needed to seat 15 at 4:30 p.m. I know that’s early but somebody was eager to get to a 6 p.m. sale on Apple watches.
Learning we had to be there in person, Vonette and I took off to drive 15 minutes hoping for a table by 4:40 p.m. By the time we got there, the wait was an hour and 20 minutes. There were so many ahead of us I figured we would be lucky to get same day seating. Like Pickett’s Charge, it all had seemed like a good idea at the time.
I was like a convention of people with ornamental kitchens. You know the ones. They use three appliances, Keurig, the microwave to warm up the take outs and the dishwasher when it’s full of coffee cups.
But not all. There were some very elderly people, no longer able to cook, out for Thanksgiving dinner with a few family members. I’m grateful to Cracker Barrel, Golden Corral and a few others for being open for those folks.
With one big, partly-digested meal under my belt, I wasn’t hungry, but a lot of people looked famished, like they could eat a rutabaga with a side of sauerkraut. People carrying out leftovers in takeout boxes could have auctioned them off and paid off their houses.
When we were finally seated a little after 6, Benjamin told everyone the true story of Thanksgiving he had learned at Noah’s Ark, his pre-K school. The Pilgrims came to America, he said, because “King Mean James” mistreated them. Squanto, he said, he taught the Pilgrims to grow corn. When he dug into his pancakes and scrambled eggs, Isabel entertained our end of the table green bean confetti.
I tipped our harried but splendid waitress generously, we said our goodbyes, and I went for my Black Thursday experience.
I pulled in at Kohl’s about 7:30 p.m. where there were more cars in the parking lot than are aboard the Golden Ray. In the middle of the store a clerk held up a sign that said, “The checkout line starts here...” I paced it off at 100 feet, and a woman with both arms loaded tried to inch a stroller forward in a straight line.
I’m not saying this to be sexist, but to get down the aisles of the women’s shoe department, shoppers had to step over and around scattered shoe boxes. In contrast, there were two off the shelves in the men’s footwear, both Adidas, but that probably has no significance.
It was worse across the street at Target, but I easily found a parking space at Lowe’s, which was locked up and dark.
The automatic door got about halfway closed a couple of times before swinging open for more shoppers. I though of a sign at an old prison that said, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”
Perhaps not. These people obviously had a couple of things I don’t possess, patience and no fear of personal bankruptcy.
Wit more shoppers than Kohl’s, they lined off the normal approaches to the checkout lines and snaked buyers single file through six aisles of the health and beauty section. Some had single items while some had loaded shopping carts. Children looked bored with nothing to see but shampoos, laxatives, corn pads and things of that ilk.
You have to get bargains when you can, but we don’t get as much for our money as we once did, sale or no sale.
At a grocery store, I saw a standard Hershey bar for $1.29. That’s about 25 cents a bite. Ironically, the store was a Bi-Lo.
On the plus side, they sometimes seem to have more almonds. Maybe that’s because almonds are cheaper than milk chocolate.
It’s not just candy bars that have shrunk. Bags of coffee were once a full 16-ounce pound. Buy a bag now and you hope for 12 ounces, but some at 10 ounces. They prices are steep price for mediocre brews.
They’re really taking us to the cleaners to pants. About 8 percent of the population looks good in skinny jeans, yet upwards of 50 percent are wearing them. Thank God the incidence was low at Cracker Barrel.
If you’re old enough to qualify for Social Security, you probably shouldn’t wear skinny jeans regardless of your body shape. At your age, you’ve won the right to be taken seriously. There is no gravitas to skinny jeans and, in some cases, they accentuate the effects of gravity.
Manufacturers get to use far less denim or twill while charging more, and we fall for it.
Not me. I went into Walmart on Friday morning and bought a pair of old-school Wrangler’s for $12, and I didn’t have to fight a crowd.
Walmart started their door buster sale at 4 p.m. Thursday and ended it at 1 a.m. Friday. A woman wearily restocking candy shelves said “We closed at 1 a.m. and reopened at 6. I had to be here at 7.”
All the big screen TVs were gone as were the must-have kitchen appliances that will be in yard sales by summer.
What Walmart had in abundance was sparkling clean aisles and peace. Blessed peace.