The Emotions of Black Friday Shopping

Thanksgiving: a time for catching up with family, reconnecting with old friends, watching the Macy’s parade, football game and eating a traditional home-cooked meal. It is, no doubt, a great holiday. However, as the sun sets on the horizon on that fateful Turkey Day and families everywhere cozy around the TV in the living room, the holiday tradition that I hold near and dear to my heart draws near: Black Friday!

Honestly, nothing beats piling into the car with some fearless relatives or a bunch of friends and pulling up to the mall mere hours after Thanksgiving dinner. Even though the doors don’t open until 6 or 7 in the evening and the best sales don’t start until midnight, you can feel the excitement in the air as fellow shopaholics and deal addicts line up along the perimeter of their favorite stores with coupons and flyers in hand. It is truly a beautiful sight to see.

However, the night does not go without its highs and lows. Every seasoned vet who braves the storefront knows that without having a game plan you can and will get lost in the crowds and end up missing the *one thing* that was the sole reason you left the house. It also takes the right mindset to weave through massive crowds and compete with some of the most ultra-competitive shoppers you will ever see. If you haven’t taken the time to pray, meditate or chug three cups of coffee beforehand, you’re not ready, and even then you’re going to have a lot of mixed feelings about this VERY chaotic shopping spree. Here are the Black Friday phases and emotions we all have as we embark on the greatest bargain hunt of the year:


1. Excitement

All you can think about is how the super-cute Patagonia pullover that you’ve been eyeing for weeks is FINALLY within reach. You and your mom – if you haven’t done Black Friday shopping with your mom, you’re not doing it right IMO – are jamming out to Christmas tunes as you circle the parking lot 20 times looking for an open space. Once you park, you wander over to the line trailing around the mall, counting down the minutes until the doors open. Life is great, and once you get your hands on that sweater it will be even better.


2. Mild Panic

The stores are open for approximately 30 seconds and you’ve already almost been trampled. People push through and weave their way around you as they speed-walk with laser focus towards the purses or the Apple store. You recover, but remind yourself to settle into a survivor mentality – things are about to get wild!

3. Annoyance

Why is this family taking up the entire walkway?!? Time is ticking and you’re still stuck in the same department store – the department store that does NOT have your Patagonia sweater in stock – that you entered the mall through. Apparently, some people didn’t get the memo that it is BLACK FRIDAY and that taking their sweet time ambling through the jewelry section is NOT acceptable. You and your mom share a look of mutual frustration and weave through the tables of watches and counters of earrings to the exit of the store, and emerge into the interior of the mall.

4. Despair

There are so many people! You were caught up in the wave of eager shoppers for a solid 20 minutes before finally stumbling into the store that you actually came here for, and now you’re pinned to the wall as people pack themselves into the store. You can literally see the Patagonia sweater in the exact Stone Blue/Shepherd Knit pattern that you want, so close yet so far away!

5. Victory

After fighting through the crowd and ducking and dodging around the more aggressive shoppers, you managed to make it to the rack of 75-percent-off pullovers. You smile through the checkout line and leave the store with the Patagonia sweater, and a few extras, in hand.

6. Joy

With the primary mission accomplished, you and your mom celebrate with Starbucks and amble through the rest of the mall for hours. Every store seems to have a better sale than the last, and by the end of the night you both emerge with an absurd amount of shopping bags in hand. You return home to get a few hours’ sleep before embarking on your next Black Friday endeavor - next stop: Target.

Although Black Friday is traditionally an event anchored in commercialism and materialism, for my family it really is one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. The experience of shopping in an environment of crowds and holiday chaos is really a lot of fun when you’re with the right people, because in the end, it doesn’t matter if you end up buying anything or not. The memories you make in the process are far more valuable.