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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday in Alamo Ranch: My Report...

I'm not a shopper at all. Going to the mall is rare, and then the only entertainment about it is looking at the freaks of nature who live amongst us, and their children. Unless we are talking garage sale or Flea Market, or admittedly, my seemingly daily trips to HEB, my shopping usually involves walking into a store, immediately going to the exact location of the single item I am there to purchase, hitting the self check-out lane and being out of the store as quick as possible. If you are like me, you probably wouldn't even think about participating in Black Friday. And neither would my wife.

But due to the fact that I needed a new printer, I found myself rolling into Alamo Ranch at 6:50 Friday morning. This whole thing started on Wednesday when we went to OfficeMax to have some copies made. While we were standing there, I remembered that I needed a new printer so I walked over to the printer aisle and found one that used the same ink cartridges as the current crappy printer.
I'm sure you know that ink these days cost more than printers, so to even shop around for a better deal that didn't use the same cartridges would be throwing away pure cash since we had just bought brand new ones for the printer that is jacked up. They had an Epson NX300 that has all the fancy scanning, faxing, copying and printer functions I need, and it was only $89.00, so I grabbed one and proceeded to check-out.

As the guy was ringing up our purchase, he was having some sort of official OfficeMax inter-store conversation with several other OfficeMax officials over the headsets they wear. Of course, my wife and I could hear both sides of the conversation because the other employees were all within several feet of us. But in fairness, it is cool to talk on headsets. Anyway, the gist of the story is, they determined that the printer I was buying for $89.00 was going to be on sale for an undisclosed price, but a whole lot cheaper, Friday morning at 7:00. My first reaction was, "What is a whole lot cheaper?" I'll be honest, I'm not coming back for $20.00.

There was all sorts of hand wringing and employees looking at one another and managers shaking heads to try to convince the guy not to tell me the price until the advertisement comes out, but finally the kid covered his microphone and did one of those coughs where you would normally say "Bullshit", but instead, he coughed, "$49.99." Well then, you now no my threshold for frugality. I will come back at 7:00 on Black Friday to save $40.00, just not $20.

I had seen news reports of people actually camping out with tents and such to stand in line at the Best Buy which is located exactly next door to the OfficeMax. The Best Buy was to open at 5am or so. Call me crazy, but I really didn't expect people to stand in line for OfficeMax, unless of course they had received an insiders cough, alerting them to something amazing. I figured if I got there a few minutes before opening, I'd be, what, second or third in line?
Well, as it turns out, all the people who went in to Best Buy at 5am were just getting started, so there was a line that went directly from the Best Buy exit, down the sidewalk to the OfficeMax door. What the heck, so I walked into Best Buy just to see if there was the same printer on sale. But as I walked to the computer department, I casually noticed the line to the registers that was longer than the line into OfficeMax, so I retreated and just went with the original plan.Oh, who stands out in front of PetSmart on Black Friday? Apparently about 6 people (with dogs in tow).As soon as the doors opened at precisely at Oh Seven Hundred, the line moved inward and no kidding, within about 25 seconds, the entire crowd was inside the store. I grabbed a cart and went straight to the printer aisle and there was only one of the NX300's left, and the box had a huge gash in it. I grabbed it but the deal was, I had told my sister-in-law I would get her one too. So now I was going to have to look for another cheap printer.There was a huge gaggle of people surrounding a festive OfficeMax girl in Santa hat, passing out vouchers for cameras and cheap memory disks and such, and when I pushed my cart by there, I noticed a small stack of the NX300's sitting near a table, so I swapped out the one with the jacked-up box and grabbed two fresh ones.Next on my list, I wanted to purchase a new hard drive for my computer so I wandered around to that part of the store. Didn't find what I wanted but I did come across a "situation". There was a crowd of about ten angry customers backing a store manager into a corner. From what I could gather, it seems that OfficeMax had some sort of good deal on laptops, but as is usually the case, they only had 4 at the cheap price. Then, it seems they had another 4 laptops, slightly better, for about $50.00 more. Well, the first people in line asked for the cheaper of the two laptops, but were given the vouchers for the more expensive ones. And as you can imagine, the next people in line received the vouchers for the cheaper laptops. When the people go up to turn in the vouchers and receive the laptop, the price is higher, it isn't the right laptop and they are pissed!

Now, you have a woman who (geeze, I hope she doesn't read this), looked like she had been sleeping in a tent in front of Best Buy for several days, and she was pretty upset that she wasn't getting the cheap laptop. The crowd seemed to be made up of reasonable people - in fact there was no gun play, and based on San Antonio ordinance, no lighted torches were being waved at the manager's face - but you could see how this little screw up could cause several sternly worded letters to the company.

I don't know how it finally got resolved, but I do know that one lady who had received the voucher for the cheaper of the two laptops actually wanted the more expensive one, so she traded vouchers with with woman who had been up all night, and the two of them were happy.

I did pick up a few other things. They had some computer speaker system with the woofer that sits on the floor so our laptop can go Thump Thump Thump when I play old Hank Williams Sr. songs. That was on sale for $14.99. I also picked up 100 packs of DVDs and CD's, though now that my kids aren't here to use them all, I just may never need to buy any ever again. I think those were $17.00 regular $59 for the DVDs and $39 for the CDs.

Then I got in the line that wrapped around the store and began the 45 minute wait to check out. While there two guys in front of me struck up a conversation. The one guy was telling me his Black Friday philosophy. He said basically, he has more time than money. So in his case, he only buys stuff that he is going to buy anyway, but if he has to wait an hour or two in line to save $100 or $200, to him it is worth it. Then he started going through my shopping cart pointing out that my savings on the printer was a tank of gas; the savings on my CD's was a case of beer and so on. He told me that just that morning, between Wal Mart, Best Buy and OfficeMax, on purchases he was going to make regardless, he had saved $600. Not bad. And he looked a lot better than the laptop lady who had camped out in a tent for several days.
In the end, I was out to the van by 8am and thus ended my Black Friday adventure. Did you venture out? Tell me about it.


KeithAlanK said...

Sounds like you and I shop the same way.
For Black Friday we went to Jim's to fuel up (thanks to you're reminder--it was awesome!) then hit obscure places for guitar picks and lighting gels, then Artisan's Alley.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Glad you got such a good deal on the printers. I still don't think half price would have gotten me to venture out....

Anon E. Mouse said...

I had debated trying for one of those laptops, the price was right for the features offered, but I didn't want to camp out so early, and fight the crowds. I figured it was a sign of the times and prices would still be coming down closer to Christmas or early next year, and my 8 year old computer was still functioning. :)

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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