Black Friday Is Getting Silly: Best Buy To Hold Essay Contest

Retailers are scared this year, what with the whole economy coming crashing down around their ears and all, and the Black Friday marketing frenzy should be crazier than ever this year. Best Buy is even holding an essay contest. The topic? Why Black Friday shopping is an “important family ritual.” Yes, seriously.

From Time:

Best Buy is staging an essay contest: applicants vie to describe how important a family ritual Black Friday shopping is. The 25 winners get a $1,000 gift card, a limo ride and early admittance at 4:30 a.m. to the Black Friday deals. The electronics dealer will provide hot chocolate and outside movie screens showing holiday films to tired customers who wait in overnight lines.

Ah yes, the Black Friday ritual. At our house my dad used the flyers to start a nice, cozy fire, then laughed at the news reports about people trying to kill each other over a cheap TV. After that we ate turkey sandwiches. Do I win?

Can Retailers Get Consumers into the Christmas Spirit? [Time] (Thanks, Jeff!)
(Photo: Tengaport )

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  1. Raekwon says:

    I go just to see people fighting over stuff. One year I went with some family and we decided to cut the “line” in front of the store and got all types of death threats. It was quite the experience. I was also impressed with the coordination of some families using walkie talkies to communicate bargains and availability to each other in separate stores across town.

    If you never have done the Black Friday thing I definitely recommend it at least once just for the experience.

  2. zigziggityzoo says:

    lol. There’s nothing important about it. I got a Wii and a 32″ LCD from K-mart (!) last year, sold the Wii on eBay and paid for half my TV with the profit. Thank you K-mart for the $200 Olevia TV.

  3. pete7919 says:

    They should capitalize on the dummies who wait all night by showing them ads on big screens.

    Also, when are the retailers going to get their acts together, recognize that there will be large crowds and setup some cattle chutes or line mazes for the people to wait in rather than snaking all over the parking lot?

    • idip says:

      @pete7919: They should setup lines, I’ve seen a few times that when they open the doors people from the back rush foward and jump in front of all the people in front.

      That happened once at Target, someone jumped ahead of someone when we had Wii’s, I told the lady, “Excuse me ma’m, this gentleman had been waiting first and before you, I will ring him up first”

      She wasn’t too happy, but tough luck. The guy was really happy though, lol.

    • VeeKaChu says:

      @pete7919: And what makes you think those outside TVs won’t be tuned to “The Best Buy Network!!”? Oh yeah, those lucky shoppers will get their fill of promotional gimcrackery that morning!!

  4. Onion_Volcano says:

    My essay will be brief. Your crappy blue store makes me want to gouge out my eyes and hang them on my holiday tree.

  5. ryan89 says:

    Dear Best Buy,

    Black Friday shopping is so important to my family that we go to every store but Best Buy and Wal-Mart because they are just too crowded. Now give me $1000.

    Ryan

  6. valarmorghulis says:

    No, I won with my simple, but complete essay of, “Because it helps us realize that Best Buy (and all if its related, paid, services) bring the family together in an honest and patriotic way.”

    What? A grand is a grand dammit. Do you know how many TVs I could have calibrated for that? Just over four!!!!

    • GothamGal says:

      @valarmorghulis:

      LOL It’s totally worth it for the 4 TV calibrations.

      • valarmorghulis says:

        @GothamGal: I’ve actually frequently been tempted to go into a BB and try to buy the service for a non-HD. Then act all astounded that these 250 dollars wouldn’t turn it into an HD. I like playing ignorant to people that are ignorant while trying to appear knowledgable.

  7. AbbottScrofa says:

    Every year my uncle somehow manages to get his hands on the black friday circulars a couple of days before thanksgiving. He then goes out and buys the “Hot items” that are going to sell out at 5:00 am at full price, only to stroll into the store at 12:00 noon return the full price item he bought a few days before and buy it at the new reduced black Friday price.

    I like the system, why get involved in the hype and wake up at 5:00 am for deals on stuff you don’t really need.

    • valarmorghulis says:

      @AbbottScrofa: Holy crap your uncle is a genius.

    • kamel5547 says:

      @AbbottScrofa: Most stores do not sell returned items back to customers anymore. Anything returned has to be ‘re-stocked’ in order to avoid this sort of scam. Surprised it stull works.

    • Jester6641 says:

      @AbbottScrofa: Just checked the bb website and it specifically voids the price match guarantee for items on sale Nov 28-30. But I imagine some other places might still let you get away with it. Plus, if it’s not specifically written down somewhere in the store or on your receipt you might have a chance

    • crazybutch says:

      @AbbottScrofa: they (hopefully) wouldn’t do that at the store i work at. the customer service long is at least a 2 hour wait on that day. also, Black Friday deals are excluded from price adjustments….

    • EricLecarde says:

      @AbbottScrofa: Actually, thats similar to what my family has done in the past. My mom will buy stuff at normal price then on black friday, come back in and get a refund for the difference. Since their policy is “If the price drops anytime within the next 30 days, you can get it at that price.” Works well enough.

  8. thebluepill says:

    A few rounds off the ol’ 12 gauge gets the line thined down just fine.

    • mariospants says:

      @thebluepill: You see, I never can understand that kind of humor. Just me I guess, because instead of a smug thebluepill standing at the front of the line with a shot gun poised at his hip, I see a SWAT team pumping peppery spray in his every orifice. Oh wait, NOW it’s funny!

      • thebluepill says:

        @mariospants:

        That too would be hi-larious, I agree. I just cant seem to get enough spicy food in my diet and some pepper spray for breakfast would hit the spot, for certain.

        This comment, though, was high sarcasm from me in response to the comments revolving around violence and people killing each other over cheap televisions.

        It is senseless and ridiculous that people resort to violence to save a few dollars on a beater door buster. People make life-changing decisions in the fervor to save a penny. It is utterly ridiculous to the maximum degree.

    • alysbrangwin says:

      @thebluepill: Bowling! Bowling! BOWLING!

  9. narf says:

    My friend used to have Thanksgiving breakfast(!) with the family so he can camp out the next 20 hours for some good deal.

    Personally, I got too old for it several years ago. The last time I did any serious camping, it was for an Xbox 360 … and that was only 6 hours (ended up clearing a bit under $300 so it was worth it).

    OTOH, 20 hours in line to save like $100 … not worthwhile enough.

    • formatc says:

      @narf: I do something like that with a group of friends. We eat Thanksgiving dinner with our respective families, get together at someone’s house to watch the evening football game, go out to a diner for breakfast at about 1, and then get in line. We’re all in our late 20s and it’s been a tradition since college. The shopping is more or less an excuse to hang out for the night. We have a few people in the market for TVs this year, including myself, so it should be interesting.

  10. Jupichan says:

    It seems rather silly to me, but hell, I’ve been able to bullshit essays before. If it gives me a chance at a thousand bucks to a store I never really go to, sure, why not?

  11. DarkKnightShyamalan says:

    My Best Buy Black Friday ritual has been the same for several years.

    It involves not going anywhere near any of those big-box hell holes.

    • RandaPanda says:

      @DarkKnightShyamalan: Hear hear. I try to avoid it at all costs. In fact, unless I can help it…which when I worked at Target, I was lucky (?) enough to work the evening shifts. *sigh* glad to not be working in retail hell again.

  12. downwithmonstercable says:

    I have never gone to a black friday before. My wife’s family is psycho over it. They strategize and map stuff out. I sleep in, and then shop on christmas eve.

  13. satoru says:

    I’m kinda looking forward to getting some deals this year hopefully. Mostly in some designer clothing. I got a great Hugo Boss jacket for $100 last year. So I hope they’ll be trying to liquidate all this stuff so I can buy it on the cheap.

  14. 108Reliant says:

    Dear Best Buy, I’m already standing in line sometimes in the freezing cold. I’ve worked hard all year for this day to buy the marked down goodies you have for sale. I even called the boss and told him that I was sick from the turkey I ate the night before. The news media always comes out to see how stupid I am for doing this. So my question to you is, Why are you making me do more work by making me write and essay on how great Black Friday and you are?

  15. dasunst3r says:

    When times were more prosperous for my family (that’s four years ago), we did participate in those Black Friday rituals. We are now more careful about going upon finding out that I can have these so-called “deep discounts” anytime by shopping on the likes of Newegg and Amazon.

  16. lotusangel42 says:

    I nearly sprayed a mouthful of coffee on my computer when I read “Why Black Friday shopping is an “important family ritual.””

  17. edosan says:

    I went last year and picked up some cheap DVDs. I didn’t think it was too bad, but then again I’d never bother with the $199 laptops and stuff.

  18. MJPByron says:

    Freakin’ A, that’s the West Paterson Best Buy! Awesome.

  19. HogwartsAlum says:

    I avoid ALL stores on Black Friday. I try to get whatever I need the night before Thanksgiving so I don’t have to go out again. The roads are packed and every one acts like they are fleeing the zombie invasion and Must. Go. First.

    But BB can give me $1000 anyway. :)

  20. Saboth says:

    Ahhh Black Friday. I remember my first (and last) Black Friday. Got up at 6 am, drove 30 minutes to the nearest Best Buy for “bargains”…walked in the front door and stood agape at probably 5,000 people in the store. Seriously, the checkout line started at the entrace of the store, wound all around the furthest walls of the store, then back to the front. There were people in line with 10 DVD players in-hand. I promptly turned around, drove home, and went back to sleep, never to return to the madness.

  21. strife1012 says:

    You think buying on Black Friday Sucks. Think about the Employees. I got to work at 3am for a 5am Opening. The People who got the $400 laptops were there 6pm the day before.

    There was a 6 hour Setup prior to opening, we had to creates lines through the entire store.

    Everything was fine around 12pm

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @strife1012: I have a sister who used to work in a Pizza Hut. The Wal-mart near them ordered pizza for the employees coming in early for the Black Friday sale. They had to come in crazy early to prep for making all of that food (1AM I think).

  22. HRHKingFridayXX says:

    I (shamefully) already did this. Free money is free money, people. Tho I’m sure BB would find a way to screw you still.

  23. frodo_35 says:

    Dear BB I love black friday now that dad has lost his job moms income from the laundry she takes in really needs to stretch. I hope to save on a new gizmo for tiny Tim as I don’t know if he will see another xmas. You see last years black friday it was really cold and he got very sick I guess 3 year olds just don’t hold up like they used to. We all thought that bowl of gruell would see him through I guess we should have given him more when he asked so pitifully.Or maybe bought him a coat instead of a wi. We just hoped the tennis game would build up his withered arm ,I mean leg. But it will all be ok because Mr McCain will fix it all with deregulation. I hear they are going to do away with that pesky minimum wage so you can sell the stuff made in China alot cheaper. Mom will be real happy those laundry dollars will stretch. God Bless you every one.

  24. mariospants says:

    Dear Best Buy:
    In my family, Black Friday usually begins with the ritual sacrifice of a chicken then the stocking of explosives in a Good Year blimp.

    Makes for good times.

  25. Canino says:

    Dear Best Buy,

    The Black Friday Ritual is very important to my family. Every Friday-after-Thanksgiving, we wake up at 4:30am and drive to our destination. Then we launch the boat and start fishing on the empty lake, sometimes not seeing another boat for hours at a time. Once the ice chest is full of stripers, crappie, catfish, etc. we head home. Later we buy all our presents online, paying no tax and getting free shipping, and the presents are delivered right to our door.

    Thank you for inticing people to spend their time at your store instead of out on the lake.

  26. humphrmi says:

    My Black Friday tradition is probably not what Best Buy wants to hear.

    Years ago, it was all about toys. Having three kids and a booming economy, I went to K*B Toys in Lincolnwood, Illinois every Black Friday to get roughly $1000 worth of toys for $250. I was usually first or second in line. I did this for three years – just K*B Toys, then back home to bed for a couple hours.

    Soon, it expanded – first to stores adjacent to K*B Toys in Lincolnwood Town Center mall. Then, eventually, to electronics stores; Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.

    Then, two years ago, after standing in line at a BB and getting that “doorbuster” deal I really wanted, I got home to find that online retailers were offering better deals all day on Black Friday.

    That alone didn’t disuade me (traditions are traditions, after all) but last year, I drove by our local Best Buy on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner at my parents-in-law, and at 7:00 PM Thanksgiving evening, there was already a huge line at the Best Buy. I went home, turned off my alarm clock, went to bed, and slept late. I woke up much later, logged in, and found all the electronics I wanted online on Black Friday (during the day) for within a few dollars of the BB prices.

    My kids are too old for K*B Toys now, and quite frankly I don’t see any need to stand in line in the cold for 12 hours to buy something that I can get online the next day for about the same price, after a full night’s sleep.

    What do I win?

  27. rsfrid says:

    To me a $1000 Best (Worst) Buy card is equiv. to a $2 Walmart card – not even worth cashing in. Their stuff is shit, their service is worse, the warrantees don’t exist, the service is dismal, the employees should all go somewhere else, cause they have no clue.

  28. theblackdog says:

    Dear Best Buy,

    You screwed me over during Black Friday 2007 on getting a Nintendo DS gold last year, therefore I bought it from Target next door. If you want my business, hand over that gift card. It will surely bring my “family” together (even if the state doesn’t recognize my relationship) when we are in front of the glow of a new TV that was purchased with said card.

  29. BuddhaLite says:

    I still prefer to think of Black Friday as Buy Nothing Day.

    [www.adbusters.org]

  30. Scoobatz says:

    I will never succumb to the Black Friday madness. Thank God (or Gore) for the Internet! I just bought all my kids toys from Toys-R-Us online, received 20% off, no sales tax, and no shipping fees. Oh yeah, … and no lines, no crowds, no traffic, no parking problems, no lack of sleep, no dealing with other pissed-off customers or unhelpful employees.

    And, so what if I missed out on another $50 of savings that Black Friday may potentially bring. I just paid for my time and sanity.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @Scoobatz: Some people spend more on gasoline on BF than they get back in savings on the goods they buy, so thats another consideration to take into account, how much are you REALLY saving? Not to mention time which is invaluable and lost wages if you have to take the day off without pay to get those deals. If you get sick because someone in the crowd decided to come out even though they were ill then you have potential medical bills and more time off work to deal with, not to mention the injuries that could happen from being in a crowd that size. Some people drive around for hours shopping on BF when they could just order everything online.

  31. RedShirt says:

    You gotta do what you gotta do to drum business.

  32. Outrun1986 says:

    I already don’t want to be in the crowds at the stores and malls anymore, when I was in a parking lot last weekend someone had the bright idea to speed through the parking space next to me and nearly ripped my door and arm off as I was trying to exit the car, person didn’t apologize or anything and was rather rude about it too. From now on I am parking farther away in the lot and will make it a point to shop in the off hours, those few extra steps into the store aren’t going to kill me.

  33. karmaghost says:

    Someone I work near (different dept) skips Thanksgiving dinner and all the festivities altogether. Her and her entire immediate family (including 4 kids) camp out in front of whatever store they’ve deemed worthy starting before Noon on Thanksgiving day. I think it’s really sad.

  34. dtmoore says:

    I did black friday a couple years ago, and by doing black friday I mean I was in the market for a new TV, saw an ad for one at a great price, figured i’d go at noon and if it wasn’t there, oh well. Went in at 1:30ish grabbed my tv and was out in 10 minutes with no major crowds. Works for me.

    Unless you absolutley need a $5 waffle iron or something i just don’t understand the rush.

  35. MJPByron says:

    @MosesKabob – Passaic County Sheriff = West Paterson, seeing as to my knowledge there are no other Best Buys in Passaic County. Plus I’ve been there on BF and I know their line layout.

    @tande04 – not sure, I was last there for ’05. They do a decent job of keeping you comfy from 4:00 onwards, but I haven’t found anything worth hitting up since ’05. The real brawls I’ve seen were at Circuit City further up, back in the days of the awful $299 laptops (with 12 months’ AOL required). If there’s a decent GPS for $50, I might consider going out this year.

  36. smirkette says:

    My mom and I used to go, but every year the crowds get more and more ridiculous–people shoving, fighting. There’s absolutely no joy, just ugly greed. This year we’ve decided to stay home and do all of the Christmas baking instead. Cheaper, more quality time, and we get cookies!

  37. bmwloco says:

    Phhht. Commericalism and it’s darwinistic best.

    Woot.com, LLbean.com or any other .com gets my business. I’m not dealing with the teaming masses.

    Best Buy ain’t, ever.

  38. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    “At our house my dad used the flyers to start a nice, cozy fire, then laughed at the news reports about people trying to kill each other over a cheap TV.”

    This made me totally know it was a Meg Marco post. Your dad stories are always the coolest!

  39. QuiteSpunky says:

    Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.

    Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?

    Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us

  40. themikebrown says:

    I went last year, just to see what it was all about. My cousin and I stood outside of the local Best Buy in freezing weather from 4am to 430 when the doors opened. I bought a few items (like 300 for $5) and then left. It was pretty interesting to see people tearing up the racks for deals like vultures.
    Do the employees get paid extra to work Black Friday at Best Buy?

  41. Ragman says:

    If I won, I’d have to go in and buy as many of the hot doorbusters as I could. Then go auction them off in front of the store for cash after the rest are sold out.

    I prefer to hit the BF websites prior to the day to make sure I’m getting a good deal before I buy anything.

  42. Ben_Q2 says:

    I used to work for the OC Register. The ads are there 2 weeks before the sale date (any sale). Something like this I would just go into the store before hand and put the items in other places. Best was the washer and dryer. No one is going anywhere near them on that day.

    After the ex left every day is like Christmas to me.

  43. DamThatRiver says:

    I hope A Christmas Story is in their holiday film rotation.

    Not that I’m going. I’d rather sleep in and then lulz at the news.

  44. ninabi says:

    Black Friday? Not on my calendar. Our kids are grown- we quit Christmas. I put up lights outside to be social and send out the obligatory cards, but shopping like madmen?

    We’ll pass.

    It started with “tree refusal”. Nobody wanted to drag the damned thing up from the basement. I said nobody had to and the Christmas joy just spread smiles when I said those magic words, No tree!

  45. LuminousMuse says:

    Dear Best Buy,

    Black Friday is very important as the cheap no-name-brand crap, I mean quality products, that I buy for my family on that day break down a week after purchase thus making my family members disown me and so now I will have money during the holidays to do other things, like eat.

  46. Meathamper says:

    Consumerist, you mean Black Friday Is Getting Educational!

  47. therealhomerjay says:

    {{{Shudder}}} So many bad memories of Black Friday crazies working at discount retail to pay my way through college and in lean times after college. I actually had people yelling at me for ‘cutting in line’ when I went to the front door to go to work–as if I’d willingly be at a store at 4 in the morning to stock shelves and face a day of insanity and hostility that made me really wonder what happened to the Christmas spirit.

    Ever since I’ve been fortunate enough to work in office environments, I’ve been the first to volunteer to cover in the office and let those with much more fortitude than myself face down the crowds. I’ll shop at off hours on off days (and ONline), and suffer the consequences of not being able to buy the $19 DVD player or whatever.

  48. dweebster says:

    “Best” Buy is the Antichrist.

    $1000.00 please, Beelzebub.

  49. mike says:

    I’ll say this: Best Buy fronting chocolate and showing movies as people wait? That’s awesome. I hate BB but what they are doing to encourage these people is great.

    One good thing the depressed economy is doing is showing companies how important customers are.

  50. Stonecutter says:

    My neighbor’s second child was born on Thanksgiving night last year. He was at Best Buy the next morning at 6am.

  51. Raiders757 says:

    Me and my wife’s “Black Friday Ritual”?

    Wake up after a day of Thanksgiving feasting, drinking, and watching football. Grab some leftovers, eat them, hit the rum, chug a beer, then pass out on the couch.

    Wake up, and repeat until it’s saturday morning.