How to survive Black Friday: And not unnecessarily anger the retail workers

Arianna Erdman, Editor in Chief

     ‘Tis the season folks. No, not the season where you dress up like someone or something you’re not and go bump in the night. And I’m not talking about stuffing yourself full of delicious food until you’re in a food coma and ignoring your relatives’ questions about how your life is going while you slowly gestate a food baby. While what I’m talking about might have something to do with the only time of year that someone can admit to watching your children all year and you actually want them to come into your house, it’s also not entirely that. The season in question is the holiday shopping season, starting with Black Friday, which is a bit of a misnomer since it now starts on Thursdays. While employees want to ensure a pleasant experience while shopping for whatever gifts you’re going to be giving to far-flung family members, all too often, that experience is soured deeply by the faux pas that customers commit.

     Every year, scores of people are injured during the madness of Black Friday shopping, and there is an actual website called the Black Friday Death Counter, where deaths related to this shopping extravaganza are cataloged. Fights break out over deals, human avalanches create hundreds in property damage, and everyone just generally leaves feeling miserable. So, if you want to know how to not be a Grinch this shopping season, then here are a few tips, courtesy of the people who’ve seen it all and then some:

1)    Don’t get mad, get early: In an age of rapid progress and constant forward momentum, retail workers are forced to change seasons and even years in the blink of an eye. Calendars for 2018 come out in early October. Christmas and Thanksgiving merchandise is put up before Halloween even rolls around. It’s annoying, and we hate it just as much as shoppers do. But what we hate even more is when out of season items go on clearance and shoppers wait until weeks or even months later to look for said items. You saw book covers in June that you wanted to get your kids, but waited until October because you knew they’d be on clearance? Don’t be shocked if they were bought weeks ago for that same reason. And don’t get mad at us about it either. We don’t hold those items in the back room unless we have nowhere else to go, so if they’re gone, they’re gone. Pay a little bit more for them in season and avoid the regret and resentment altogether.

2)    Save the punch for the party: Inevitably, during Black Friday shopping, somebody will want to punch someone in the face. Deck the halls, not the employee whose been standing in front of those vacuum cleaners for three hours counting the tiles on the floor. With Black Friday happening on Thanksgiving Day in many areas, employees are missing time with their families. They don’t want to be there, they just need the money. If you’re being asked to stay away from the merchandise until the sale starts, understand that it’s not just you, it’s every other shopper in the store, and have a little courtesy. In this situation, only one of the two of you is being forced to spend the evening away from their family, and it isn’t the person buying the Tupperware set.

3)    Open your ears: And please listen to us. We spend weeks planning these events. We take special training courses. We set up maps, to the point our management teams look like a war council hovering around a floor-plan of the store, putting the pawns in their place. We’ll tell you exactly where you need to go, what you need to do and when you should be there. We know what we’re doing, so listen to us. If you choose not to listen, don’t then get furious with us when you don’t know where to pick up the 60-inch TV that you don’t really need but you’re going to buy anyway. Don’t threaten us when we tell you what line to stand in for DVDs and it’s way longer than the other one. It will be a much more pleasant and streamlined experience if you just let us do what they pay us to do.

4)    One Day Later: Inevitably, there will be people who will choose not to go shopping on Black Friday. I don’t blame them. If you want to avoid the chaos and still snag some great deals, hit up the stores the day after the sale. It’s your best opportunity to still get some good merchandise for decent prices. But if you showed up for the sale and stashed a bunch of items around the store so you could come back and buy them later, don’t get angry if we found it and put it where it belonged while cleaning up after WWIII. If you saw an item in a catalogue and demand to have one brought out to you the day after, chances are everyone else who showed up the day before also saw it and bought it then. And more than anything, don’t come to the store days or even weeks later demanding to know why we don’t still carry this item that was a special for that sale.

     This holiday season, remember that the employees hate those decorations just as much as you do, and we really do want you to find your items and get home before the turkey’s done. But if you’re going to insist that we go check the back for the 20th time tonight for the storage ottoman you so desperately needed, we’re not going to be in a holly-jolly mood. And if you decide that you just need to emulate those WWE figurines, you might just walk out with a great deal for silver bracelets and a personal chauffeur to your local police station. Happy shopping everyone.

Arianna is a senior Russian and History major. She is Editor in Chief for The Voice.