I crossed over to the Dark Side this morning in my quest to fulfill my little girl's long-held desire for a collection of Disney Princesses. And it was fun!
Up by 2:15 a.m. to peruse the ads one last time and get dressed in layers, I called my shopping buddy and headed out. Traffic was light. A good sign. The parking lot was mostly empty, and I didn't see a line. Could it be? Then I saw the row of shopping carts creating a line barrier. And I saw the people. Time to hustle and stake out my place in line. 2:45 a.m.
Two ladies covered in blankets on camp chairs and a single gal bundled up were in front of me, while two Euro dudes lightly dressed (and by lightly, I mean one of them was wearing shorts) took their place behind me. The wait began.
My friend pulled up a few minutes later, but there were already 10-15 people behind me in line. I couldn't let her join me in fear of a riot but was also unwilling to lose my place in line to get at the back of it with her. So I sent her to Kohl's, which was just opening at 3:00 a.m. since there wasn't anything in particular that she was after from Target anyway. Instead of heading there right away, my generous pal stopped by Starbucks and brought me a Venti Latte. Generous, I tell you.
I pegged the ladies in the camp chairs as pros and pumped them for information. They shared strategies and their experience. A gentleman in front of them counted the number of people ahead of us in line: 103. I hoped that none of them wanted Disney Princesses. Security passed out store maps, and a news cameraman appeared. The parking lot started to fill as more and more people joined the line that now snaked around the side of the building. Did I mention that this was a SuperTarget? A humongous building.
During the final minutes before the doors opened, a curious wall of people formed by the entrance - why weren't they joining the line? Either they were going to try to merge into the crowd heading in or were reluctant to walk all the way behind the building to the end of the line. Target security was on the ball and monitored that crowd diligently. No line cutters!
The adrenaline rush and excitement tinged with a bit of anxiety grew as the doors opened. Would there be enough? Was it going to be madness inside of the store? Did everyone want the same thing I did??? I walked to the Toy section, rounded the corner and saw my prize on the shelf. No one else was there! Seriously, tears sprang to my eyes as I took hold of a box. My daughter had been doing extra chores and saving her money for months to buy the dolls, and Target was offering them for 30% off. I could imagine her excitement and appreciation on Christmas morning - all of her hard work had paid off in a different way.
Next I headed to the Men's section to look for the plush robe my husband wanted that was being offered for 50% off. Again, no one else was in that section, and I took my time deciding on a color. The two items that I'd come for were in my possession. I was thankful. And relieved.
The store was super crowded as I made my way to the registers, but people were pleasant and patient. Though I'm certain this wasn't the scene at every store, my first experience as a Black Friday early morning bargain hunter was great! The store employees were cheerful, helpful and the store organized. The camaraderie with the people in line, the thrill of the hunt, and the reward of a bargain price on a Christmas prize...I'd do it again if there was an item I wanted to purchase. I can assure you, however, that I won't be camping out with my tent just to be first in line - there was a woman who'd been there since noon on Thanksgiving day. She's outta my league as far as being a dedicated bargain hunter.
Overall, I'm feeling extremely blessed that I was able to get the dolls and robe for such great prices as well as a few other items for my family at other stores we visited after Target. We were finished with our shopping just as the sun was going up over the mountains. It was time for bed!
This post is about my experience and opinions about shopping on Black Friday - I was not asked or compensated by Target or any other store to write about my experience.