It’s 3A.M. Do you know where you children are? Because I’m at Kohl’s launching the start of Black Friday shopping.
Every time I turned on the TV this past week I was reminded that Kohl’s shoppers could begin their holiday shopping at 3A.M. It intrigued me. Would the place be a mad house or deserted except for a few new-hires who could not opt out from working the night shift. I didn’t even need anything. I lack for nothing and I know what I’m getting for Mike. If I ever purchased a gift for him from a mostly clothing store, it’d be a bad gift as far as he was concerned. Plus, both my kids are living California style, cramped living quarters, not a lot of possessions, happy and content. The past few Christmases my kids have given Mike and I gift cards for favorite restaurants. Last year they treated us to Wicked. We loved it.
I mentioned my plan to shop early at the Thanksgiving table and two young women were almost willing to join me. Almost. The rest of the people thought I was crazy. So I did it alone.
Here’s what I learned: traffic is light at 2:45 A.M.. No, it’s nonexistent. I saw my first car only after I crossed into the next town. Three passenger cars and one patrol car, all headed north while I headed south. I wondered if they knew of a better sale. Was I possibly missing out?
When I pulled into the Kohl’s parking lot, I was amazed at how full the parking lot was. My watch said 3:02 A.M. As soon as I walked into the store a pleasant young lady handed me a Kohl’s shopping bag and loudly welcomed me to the store. I asked her if she was here because she wanted to be here or. . . She interrupted me and through a toothy smile she said, “Why, I’m here because it’s my job and I love my job.” With that her eyes began to pierce mine as she tipped her head to the side, if ever so slightly. It was a signal. Code for “that’s my boss standing right over there.” It reminded me of a Seinfeld episode when Kramer decided to earn some money by volunteering to participate in a police line up. Kramer’s nod pointed out the real bad guy! I gratefully, loudly accepted the mesh bag even though I really didn’t want to buy anything. With that my eyes I coded back, “Ohhh, thanks. I get it!”
You could hear laughter all over the store as customers milled around the employees who were anxious to serve. I decided to check out an advertised special for $8.99 scarves. All the scarves were on some sort of sale, so, with my Old Lady Neck getting worse by the year, I decided you can never have enough scarves. I found three for $12 each, retail price: $30. As I headed toward the cashier I paused at the jewelry counter. Within seconds an employee stated, “If you’re shopping for jewelry you’ll need a number.” And with that she placed a printed number “7” in my hand. “Well, I don’t really think I’m going to buy any jewelry. But does this mean there are six people in front of me?” I wondered where they were. “Oh, no,” she continued there’s no wait really, we just need to do it for. . .” her voice trailed off as she smiled and her eyes spoke in code telling me Corporate needed her to report all the waits that took place at the jewelry counter. Actually the only one waiting was the clerk behind the counter who was anxious to show me a selection. I decided now would be a good time to get a larger set of gold hoops. I just hate to disappoint.
I continued to talk to the employee with the numbers since at the moment; there were no takers for “8.” I found out I missed the line outside the door. There had been a mad rush of sorts, afterall. Employees had been given the option to volunteer for the early hours, but in the end, most were assigned a shift that would run from 3 A.M. for as long as 12 hours.
The number lady pointed out two young women behind me who carried flyers with purchases circled in marker and pages selected with sticky notes. They clearly had a strategy with every movement predetermined. “You think this is a lot, you should see our 3-ring binder we have in the car!” the taller one commented. The women, it turned out, had just come from Targets. “Now that was crazy. People camping out on the sidewalk.”
As the number lady and I continued to chat, I mentioned a Cardi’s Furniture commercial this past week. “Oh, you mean the one with the Cardi brother, toting a teddy bear and flannel pajamas while he slept in a Barcalounger? Do you believe it, they were making a big deal of Cardi’s opening early on Black Friday, at 9A.M.! Oh, puleeze,” she rolled her eyes. “I’ll be eating pizza for lunch, courtesy Kohl’s at 9 A.M.”
My new jewelry clerk friend then rang up my purchase of a new pair of earrings and 3 scarves; unknowingly this helped me avoid the ever-lengthening line that snacked its way around the cashiers at the front of the store. She handed me $10 in Kohl’s cash and I immediately wondered if I missed out by not increasing my purchase another mere $25 to earn $10 more of Kohl’s cash.
It was 3:23 A.M. when I saved $152.59. Mike suggested I could have saved all $227.57 if I had stayed in bed but I wouldn’t have missed this sale for anything. It was fun and I was tucked back in my bed at 3:57. Next year? I might have to try that camping thing. If only I liked to shop.
Do you have any shopping tips or horror stories?