Avoiding the crush

Published 4:34 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I missed Black Friday. I always plan to miss it. I’m not a fan of malls or shopping and if the mall or store is noisy and overcrowded, then I’m definitely not going to be there. No offense meant to anyone, but it’s just not my idea of a pleasant day.

Sure, given how much time I spend during the winter covering basketball games in noisy, overcrowded gyms, that could seem a little hypocritical, but in this one instance I’m fine with that tag.

While driving to work on Friday morning, one of the top stories of the hourly national news was about a Toys-R-Us in Ohio where 3,000 shoppers piled into the store at some ridiculous dark, early hour on Friday morning.

Fortunately in this case — and fortunately in the case of the bomb threat that closed the North Suffolk Wal-Mart for part of Friday morning — nothing serious happened. This shopping season hasn’t had the too-common stampede or trampling story from some big store or mall somewhere in the country.

I’m all for stores and businesses having extremely profitable Decembers. Capitalism in overdrive for the next month would be good news for everyone.

In the case of the Toys-R-Us, my first reaction was, what exactly could those 3,000 people accomplish once they were in the store? Then, the radio anchor answered my second question, “the fire code allowed the store to have only 900 people in the building.”

Then my attention turned to the poor firefighters who had to be called on to sort out the problem. Only a few hours after being full and happy from turkey and everything else, a few poor firefighters had to go and sort out which 900 shoppers could stay and get the first Tickle Me Elmo or whatever’s popular this year, and which 2,100 shoppers would be angry and feel cheated out of their doorbuster sale.

If you’re someone who can’t wait for the holiday shopping frenzy, or better yet, used the weekend to complete your Christmas list, that’s great, because, in that sense, I wish I were you. My gift-giving strategy in response to Black Friday is usually to procrastinate, so that’s by no means perfect.

Overall though, let me choose a little extra sleep and sanity over the doorbuster sales at Wal-Mart or Toys-R-Us.