Black Friday fun turns to fury without a quesadilla maker


Riley Coesens

Mini Keurigs, or “K Mini’s,” advertised at Target on Black Friday

Riley Coesens, Managing Editor

Overflowing shelves stocked with seemingly endless arrays of seasonal chocolates, discounted electronics, and a wide variety of goodies await the frugal foodies, greedy gamers, and chaotic couponers alike, one day a year: Black Friday. Throughout the holiday season, anxious parents prepare for purchases for children’s presents. Extended relatives calculate costs of gift cards to pass out like sticks of gum in a crowded high school hallway. Teens dig for spare change to purchase presents for their closest peers. Although the rise in online shopping has contributed to decreasing the number of shoppers within physical stores, this day still represents much more than its original intention; it stands as a modern-day gladiator battle like those held in Rome’s Colosseum, viewed by spectators across the country.

According to a study done by First Data (now Fiserv), sales within brick-and-mortar locations increased by 4.2% from 2018, as well as an 82% increase in spending through mobile means. This holiday also stands as a symbol of human commitment, as people wrestle over fluffy $5 blankets in hopes of wrapping it delicately with a bow on top for a loved one. Even so, Black Friday also stands as a cheerful day, as it is the more recognized start to the holiday season–excitement and caffeine flows through the veins of bloated turkey-feasters, each optimistic to grab hold (and not let go) of his/her most prized finds for others.

Regardless of the holiday’s name as “Black Friday,” many individuals choose to instead begin shopping on Thanksgiving evening, after the household’s leftovers have been packed away. More shoppers are willing to travel greater distances to shop in physical stores; 38% travelled more than ten miles to get to certain retailers, and 25% drove over twenty-five miles (Fiserv). Even so, many retailers quarrel with the question of opening their doors the night before, arguing that it defeats the purpose of one-day deals, and diminishes the value of family time for the national holiday. One large bundle of stores engulfed in, and even advertising only opening their doors on Black Friday, is TJmaxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods. It should be noted that many others, however, recognize the financial benefit to offering deals on both days, or even extending bargains over a week-long period.

The same conflict occurs annually online, as customers choose comfort and convenience over standing in the cold, if presented the opportunity. Thus, I took it upon myself to review my experiences Black Friday shopping for the eighth year in a row, with the help of my friends, Juniors Ella Glaspie and Kristen Schang.

First stop: Kohl’s. Glaspie and I were already behind schedule upon parking the car, causing us to frantically wander to our chosen location, looping in circles of confusion. We passed some of the same displays–$19.99 pajama sets and $4 fuzzy socks–three times before our eyes landed on the first find: a $9 Star Wars blanket! Next was the most important item at Kohl’s, and my first true letdown of the night: a bright-red quesadilla maker. We split up to search every shelf in the kitchen section, scanning back and forth until it was determined that no more were to be found on the premises. Disappointment and anger boiled in my blood; regardless, Ella chose to risk her life as she said these six words: “It’s just a quesadilla maker, Riley.” All feelings set aside, we waited our turn to buy a few stocking-stuffers before heading to the next stop: Five Below.

Most sane people would question why someone would want to purchase quality gifts at Five Below, but we had our hearts set on one childish item: Squishmallows. Though we cannot say how many or whom we spent our savings on these for, it is safe for readers to assume that this store was one of our favorites of the night. We cheaply and effectively hand-picked the softest, cutest stuffed animals to give as accompanying presents to our friends (and ourselves); normally, this fluffy toy is attached to a much higher price tag of $10-15, but as is the tradition of Black Friday, we were blessed to get them for just $5 each.

The mall: a place of mixed opinions, of ever-lasting madness, and unmatched awkwardness for all as salespeople from retail kiosks try to engage passersby. This was our next shopping location, and included approximately a dozen stores. Though we only bought goods from about half of the places we went, Twelve Oaks Mall still offered some success. Alex & Ani made both Glaspie and I consider spending unnecessary amounts of cash on bracelets and rings for ourselves, despite the general theme of the night: Christmas shopping for others. This theme continued on in other favorite stores of ours, like the Croc store, Lush, and many well-known teen clothing retailers.

After finding Sam Spray, another friend and Black Friday fanatic, inside American Eagle, all three of us agreed that the experience was overwhelming thus far. Each of us felt guilty if we bought something for ourselves, but also did not know what was worth spending money on for other people–for as much preparation as I did, there is no way to predict how other sensible shoppers will spend on this bizarre night. “It’s so frustrating when you don’t know what to get people,” said Glaspie. “I should have planned better.” Spray agreed: “Picking out gifts is hard enough on a normal day, but the chaos of Black Friday makes it all the more challenging.” This continued on through the rest of our time in the mall, with a few notable highlights: Glaspie’s mad search for one specific (and still expensive) pair of pajama pants, weaving in and out of crowds to the point of losing one another in Macy’s, and ordering heavily sugar-loaded beverages at nine.

Here’s where the fun truly began–one impulsive decision led to another, and we found ourselves in the holy grail of Black Friday insanity: Wal-Mart. For those who are unaware, Wal-Mart is crammed with an imbalance of angry customers and cheaply-priced products year round, but add this holiday into the mix, and you’ll be left wondering if existing in a universe that this superstore is a part of is in the better interest of mankind.  This, in addition to unfathomable entertainment and glee, was what we discovered existed within the walls of this retail giant. I had not even made it 20 feet into the store without seeing it: record players! This was yet another item that Kohl’s ran out of before we arrived, so it only took Glaspie and I a moment to grab one and move on. Travelling further down the same main aisle we locked eyes with two police officers, strolling toward the electronics section further away. Explorations of the toy, snack, and technology aisles came next, making our experience last over an hour as we waited for Schang to join us. It was here, however, that the biggest mistake of all was made: Glaspie and I were sorting through stacks of dozens of different records, placing ones that I intended to buy on one side, and pushing non-worthy artists to the other side. A woman and her daughter casually strolled up behind us, and plucked my stack of 80s and today’s hits music straight from its evident pile! Her chosen stolen riches included Queen’s Greatest Hits, and the Bohemian Rhapsody movie soundtrack. Black Friday had officially become real, but I did not want to go viral on YouTube for fighting her–so I backed off.

Together, the three of us embarked on our journey first to Ulta Beauty, then to Target. At Ulta, each of us made purchases in larger quantities than any other store previously mentioned, and we spent over an hour wandering up and down colorful rows of shimmering palettes, sweetly-scented perfumes, and various beauty essentials that made me want to buy the entire store. Nonetheless, we all controlled our inner makeup-yearning demons to purchase items to add to friends’ and moms’ gifts. It should also be noted that we visited yet another Ulta Beauty location for the sake of buying $15 MAC lipsticks, which was an unbeatable deal. These are only sold at specific locations, and as our luck would have it, the Novi Ulta did not have a single one.

Finally, we arrived at Target, where we wandered through the technology, Christmas, and home decor/kitchen sections. Like Kohl’s, it lacked the quesadilla maker, but Target made up for it with mini waffle makers! In our tired, exhausted state, buffoonery was inevitable; we aimlessly strolled through aisle after aisle, picking up random toys, stuffed animals, and bags of chocolate and snacks. Schang described her Target experience as, “Super fun and exciting.”

No two Black Friday experiences will be alike, as walking into the same store as someone else just minutes apart can make a huge difference. Huge discounts on name-brand products and exponential savings cause a surge of eager individuals to leave the comfort of a home-cooked meal to reap the benefits of planning and early shopping. As we learned, one cannot take the opportunity to score good deals on quesadilla makers for granted, nor can one assume that she will find every item on her wishlist waiting upon entrance to the store. It’s unrealistic to think that this night will check every item off of someone’s holiday list, but it can offer a great start. This holiday is controversial in the minds of many, but let me assure all readers that it will be fun, exciting, and a little bit crazy no matter where you go, or at what time.