Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Fri-... errr... Thursday Night???

Last year was my very first Black Friday experience and I have to say, I was hooked. There's something about the energy in the air... it's almost like the same electric buzz that travels amongst the racers before a marathon. Almost. I didn't buy much last year, but I did learn a lot and knew that it needed to be added to my list of annual traditions.

So it's around 5 PM on Thanksgiving night and I am a wee bit bummed that none of my Black Friday shopping plans have panned out. My sister had been in town the year before, but sadly we were apart this year. The gal I had been planning to go with had found some good sales earlier in the week and wasn't really sure if she'd be going in the morning or not. I had not really made a back-up plan and flipped aimlessly through the ads, wondering if I should just go it alone the next morning.

About 30 minutes later I see have a missed call from my friend Crystal. She had not left a message but I'm guessing that she had called to wish me a happy Thanksgiving. Even though we were over at the home of friends, I decided on a whim to call her back. Boy am I glad I did. Our conversation went something like this:

Crystal: Hey, Kim! So I know this is kind of last minute, but do you remember that outlet mall that I told you about in Kenosha, Wisconsin?

Me: Umm... yeah, I think so.

Crystal: Well, they open at ten tonight so I'm going to go up there if you want to come.

Me: Sure! Sounds fun!

I think my prompt reply may have shocked her!

About an hour later Crystal is at my door to pick me up... last minute plans are sometimes the best kind. We drive two-and-a-half hours chatting all the way, pull into a prime parking spot at 9:58 pm, are in our first store by 10 pm, make our first purchases by 10:15 pm, and are off to the races. She was right- the outlet mall up there is awesome and full of great stores! Everything was open by midnight and we managed to pop into many of them despite the crowds. I was able to find gifts for people that I had no ideas for and the deals were incredible! By about 2:30 am we had stopped in just about every store that we had wanted to and both had arms laden with bags. After a not-so-quick stop through the McDonald's drive-thru and a stop for gas we headed south for home.

About 30 minutes out we realized that we would be rolling into town right as our Wal-Mart started their sales. Perfection! Even though we could hardly see at this point, we stopped in and grabbed a couple of things in no time. I stumbled into my house at 6:30 am just as Jake was waking up for his morning bottle. It was perfect timing.

Even though it was pretty rough for the rest of the day on Friday, I already look forward to next year. Shopping all night was such fun and truly perfect for a couple of moms who don't like to take too much time away from their kids! And since I had started my list of tips last year, here are a couple to add to it:
  • In a mall situation, if some stores open at one time and the others open a couple of hours later, go early anyway! There was no parking to be found after midnight.
  • If you choose to shop at an outdoor outlet mall in Wisconsin in November, wear a coat! Poor Crystal told me to bring one and then forgot hers! But she was a trooper and the sales were worth it! We got a good laugh at the folks in line to get into the North Face outlet. They would let someone in when someone left and the only people who could stand the cold were those already wearing a North Face jacket! I guess they must be warm!
  • Most importantly: don't think, just buy! I am already kicking myself for 2 items in particular that I passed up. It wasn't until later in the day that I really realized what a loss it was. Seriously... that's what returning is for, right?
  • Drive carefully- even in the parking lot. We were baffled by the wreckage from 2 cars that had collided in the parking lot. No sale is worth that!
  • If the deal is good, it's okay to buy a little something for yourself. I was pretty proud that I got 2 shirts for $5 each for myself and that's it! But I did see so much more that I responsibly passed up. It is the season of giving after all.
We wrestle a lot with the commercialism of Christmas in this family, but at the end of the day, I truly do love blessing those I love with something that I picked out especially for them. Something that I know that they would love, which we only do on Christmas and for birthdays. And our church is doing something really great this year, too. They have challenged us to give a love offering based on the amount we spend on Christmas, so for every dollar I doled out the other night, another dollar will end up in the offering plate next weekend. The idea overwhelmed me at first, but I realize that it will keep it all in perspective. Afterall, not everyone is as blessed as I am and 'tis the season to share those blessings with others. As my husband would say, we gotta make sure to keep "the main thing the main thing." Santa will always be welcome here, but we will make sure that Jesus comes first. He truly is the reason for the season.


  1. What fun! I admit I think most of those doorbuster-people are crazy, but I love the spontenaity of your outing! That sounds so fun to take a spur-of-the-moment road trip with a friend and stay up all night.

    I didn't go shopping on Friday since I've already pretty much finished my shopping and no one else was interested in going. When I do shop on Black Friday, it's mainly for the fun of the hustle-and-bustle!

    I love the dollar-for-dollar challenge you all are doing. Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio (I edit their books and love that church) calls this their "Christmas Miracle Offering." They tell people to cut back on their consumerism at Christmas, but to give an equal amount to whatever they spend to the church for Darfur. It's awesome and Matt and I have made it a tradition!

  2. This sounds very similar... it's a Christmas Hope offering. 50% goes to our local communities and 50% is going to the A-21 campaign, which is a movement to abolish sex trafficking in the 21st century. I think it will be a tradition in this family from here on out, too!