Not that long ago, and for at least a couple of years, I was one of the hoards of Kansas City residents that would anxiously get out of bed in the middle of the night to make it to the “Black Friday,” after Thanksgiving sales. Lured by the promise of huge savings on tools, gadgets and toys (I’ll call it “stuff), I would arrive at a nationally known electronic store way before the doors opened to find that I was still the 100th customer or so in line, forced to wait in the frigid night air with other drowsy but eager bargain shoppers.
To kill time, I’d re-review the sale flyer I had already perused a dozen times or more and map out my plan of attack so I could get to the stuff I wanted (note that I did not say needed) before others beat me to the punch.
Inside, I would maneuver my way through the 5:00 a.m., shopping cart traffic jam to get to the sale stuff that was so incredibly cheap, I just had to have it. Never mind that most of the items I sought had never been allowed to grace the shelves any other time of the year or that they came with brand names that were more obscure than ACME. You remember ACME. Although never reliable, it was still Wile E. Coyote’s first choice for dynamite.
Caught up in the frenzy of the moment, self-control was replaced with self-indulgence. No longer willing to stay within the boundaries of my original shopping list, I’d fill my cart with as much cut-rate stuff as my predetermined and ever flexible budget would allow. The cheaper the stuff, the more I could buy. Fate wanted me to have it all, whether I had an immediate use for it or not. For someone that is usually much more pragmatic, that side of my brain was suddenly consumed with the glee of saving a few bucks.
Once home, I’d sift through my deeply discounted booty like a pirate who had taken advantage of an unsuspecting merchant that had made a huge blunder by practically “giving away” what was now my treasure.
More often than not, however, when it came time to insert, plug in, turn on or make use of my new stuff, my joy was replaced with frustration. Most of the stuff didn’t work as promised, didn’t work for long or, in many cases, didn’t work at all. And, product support for the stuff was non-existent. Help hotlines weren’t answered and emails were ignored or bounced as undeliverable.
Taking a few days to kick myself for being so insanely impulsive, I’d repackage all the stuff that had brought me momentary happiness and give thanks that the store, where I had once celebrated outrageous savings, had a very liberal return policy.
As I recovered the sanity that had abandoned me during my blissful shopping spree, I was reminded of an undeniable truth, one that I allowed to escape me for the sake of price over value. Cheap stuff is always cheap for a reason.
If you’re heading out on Friday morning to take advantage of the “Black Friday” sales, have fun and spend wisely. This year, I’ll be sleeping in.