Well folks, November has come and gone, and with it has gone not only the strongest batch of mustaches this campus has seen since the late 1950s, but also that venerable American holiday we know as Thanksgiving. For the somehow-still-confused internationals in the audience, Thanksgiving is the most uniquely American of all holidays because it manages to combine the two priorities cherished most dearly by our fellow countrymen – spending time with family and unbridled, wanton consumption.
You see, Thanksgiving is a holiday where you are able to spend quality time with those you love – be they family, friends, neighbors, or Corporate Finance textbooks – but it is ALSO a holiday where you are able to spend quality time with those you hate most in the entire world – the people standing directly in front of you in line at 2am on Black Friday.
That’s right, folks – it’s Black Friday time. Although it may unfortunately be too late for the Harbus to give you a good solid education on the fundamentals of shopping in what may charitably be called a free-for-all for THIS year, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay close attention so that these principles are firmly cemented in your mind when that all-important day-before-Christmas shopping rush rolls around. Let’s get started.
Lesson one: Fear is the enemy
While biologists and anthropologists may come up with various reasons why fear is an important emotion for humans to have evolved, on Black Friday fear is worse than useless – it’s a near-insurmountable handicap. Take a look at the smiling faces all around you when you’re standing in line in the freezing cold seven hours before the store is set to open. These men and women are not your friends. They may joke, they may smile, they may even offer to hold your place in line while you take a bathroom break, but make no mistake – they will not hesitate before slitting your throat in pursuit of a 60” HDTV or a cable knit sweater. They can smell fear, and you must be prepared to be ruthless if necessary (and believe me, it will be).
Lesson two: Be prepared
As in any battle, preparation on Black Friday is crucial. As more and more stores are giving in to the demands of the hapless casual shoppers and implementing prissy crowd-control mechanisms such as “reservation tickets”, “well-defined lines”, and “police barriers”, it has become increasingly important to show up early in your quest for low-priced electronics. While a die-hard Black Friday aficionado may line up outside his or her store of choice three to four days before the store actually opens, the more reasonable (and better-informed) shopper knows that this is simply unnecessary. Showing up twenty-four hours in advance should be more than enough to ensure you obtain your products of choice with minimal loss of life and limb.
Preparation is about more than just showing up early, however. Make sure you and your shopping compatriots (you brought friends, right?) have a well-defined plan of attack. I’m not talking about knowing where your products are located in the store (that should be obvious), I’m talking about literal attack – make sure you know who’s in charge of initiating hand-to-hand combat over the last USB-powered coffee warmer and who’s in charge of sneaking in and stealing it while the crowd is distracted.
Lesson three: It’s not about the discounts, it’s about the rush
In this new age of the nanny state and political correctness, there are altogether too few instances where it’s socially acceptable to shove a small Indian man through a display of children’s toys – and you should seize every opportunity like it’s your last. While the deals are unquestionably good and the companionship even better (try shopping with your family, it’s a bonding experience none of you will ever forget!), it’s easy to lose sight of the true purpose of Black Friday – to give even the most jaded consumers among us the chance to feel adrenaline coursing through our veins one last time before we give in and slip quietly into the darkness that is joylessly clicking the “Buy Now” on Amazon.
Whatever you end up doing next Black Friday, ladies and gentlemen, remember to always ensure your safety and the safety of those you love in all of your consumer endeavors. In the case of Black Friday, I would recommend hockey padding for yourself and a tactical-grade riot shield for any members of your party under the age of 16, but, as in all things, the final decision rests with you.