Black Friday 2012: A near-minimalist approach.Posted by Donna Freedman on Nov 23, 2012 | 17 comments
If I were a true minimalist I wouldn’t shop at all, or I’d specialize in experiences over Stuff. But I came pretty close to skipping the madness this year: one online order late Thursday night and one small ($3.99) purchase this morning.
Not without a bit of danger first, though. My niece and nephews and I had spent about an hour looking through the ads from the biggest newspaper of the year. I’d hesitated to bring them out, fearing the site of all that swag would turn the boys (ages 6 and 11) into Monsters of Acquisition.
Surprisingly, that didn’t happen. Even more surprisingly, the only person who got a little monstrous around the edges was me.
Ooohhh! Pretty! Shiny! Oh, I bet Britain would love that. This one would be perfect for Malachi. I could buy this for Linda or Fran, and that for Glenn or Mike, and I wonder if Dad could use….
Then I mentally shook myself and decided to stay home – especially when I learned that Old Navy’s free-shipping offer included Alaska. How delightful not to have to pay for “free” shipping.
Thus on Thanksgiving evening my niece and I sat on the couch picking out a handful of items: two for her boys and three for a family with tight finances (the baby has cancer).
Alison contributed two $10 Old Navy gift cards, which were part of her Christmas present from me (I always give her the option of getting the cards early) and I paid the rest. Since I accessed Old Navy through the Mr. Rebates site, I’ll get 5% cash-back. (If you aren’t a Mr. Rebates member, I suggest you join – and I hope you’ll use my referral link.)
But the beauty part was that free shipping. It meant we didn’t have to push through the stores. That’s becoming less and less attractive to me, even though she and I did have a good time, sociologically speaking at last year’s Black Friday. (See “A mall and the night visitors” for the full report.)
Alison decided to hit a sporting-goods store at its midnight opening, in hopes of getting those $20 scooters. On the way back she stopped at two others, which were busy but not insanely so. Total time away from home, including driving: just under two hours.
Me? I conked out in the lower bunk in my older nephew’s room, having agreed to pick up just one item on Friday morning. After borrowing a friend’s car I hit the Fred Meyer store for a $3.99 chenille throw to replace one damaged in what we refer to as the Silly Putty Incident.
Yet in the store I felt the same twitches as I’d felt reading the ads. Isn’t there something else I need? Am I going to see prices this low again?
No, and yes.
I did wind up buying some $2 Triscuits to take to the Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition on Nov. 30. My friend is making her infamous “bar cheese,” which recipe begins with two pounds of Velveeta and a pound of bacon, and then veers into Miracle Whip and creamy horseradish territory. It’s hot enough to make your eyes bleed, and cholesterol-laden enough to raise your health insurance premium. But damn, it’s good.
You know what else is good? Getting out of that store without buying anything else. I fully understand the powers of advertising, but as a psychologist I interviewed for “Why we lose it on Black Friday” said, most of us are nearly powerless against the wiles of the 6-hour sale. Even frugal ol’ me can get thousand-yard stare when faced with the notion of 99-cent anything.
Avoid it, I say. Or make a list and take along a spotter who can talk you down from the extra Barbie or Lego set. Yes, it’s cheap. But is it necessary?
I try to apply that filter to just about any purchase. Maybe I’ll earn my minimalist badge yet.