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December 01, 2008
Black Friday Economics
I watched in disgust Friday evening when the local news reported a worker at a Wal-Mart in New York was trampled to death by shoppers who simply couldn't wait to pounce on the bargains offered in the early hours of Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Chaotic. Barbaric. Animalistic. All these words came to mind when trying to comprehend how something like this could happen.

I see Black Friday as the antithesis of everything the holiday season is supposed to be about. In addition to the fatality in New York, two shoppers at a Toys R Us in California killed each other after their female companion starting arguing with each other.

Although I would never be a party to it, I'm told by family and friends that Black Friday brings out the absolute worst in people. Pushing, yelling, fighting over this toy or that game...the mob mentality is never more evident than when people are getting into the Christmas spirit. Yeah, I sounds pretty ridiculous when I say it like that, doesn't it?

I spent Black Friday with my family and one of my friends hiking in the foothills of Missoula, Montana. Of the 10-12 people we encountered on our hike, not one of them attempted to trample me, or shoot me, or even push me out of the way so they could get farther up the trail more quickly. In fact, these people were a very friendly bunch. We exchanged pleasantries, stopped to pet each others' dogs, and commented how great it was to be where all those other people (aka shoppers) WEREN'T.

After this latest round of Black Friday madness, might I make a suggestion? Stores: Offer these deals for three or four weeks, not three or four hours. If you can make money at those low prices, why not keep them low the entire shopping season? I'm pretty sure Wal-Mart and Toys R Us aren't happy with the publicity these weekend events produced. Maybe they should try a different approach next year.

As for me, I'm happy to pay a bit more for gifts if it will keep me alive until Christmas.

Make it a great day.


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