An Anthropologie storefront

As planned, I went to the new Anthropologie a block from my house yesterday. I hadn’t realized their 50% deal only lasted until 11 am and had started at 6 in the morning. And I was glad I hadn’t known–perhaps I would have woken up painfully early, fueled by the worry that everything might be gone later. When I arrived at 10, though, the store was still packed, with clothing and people. I waited 10 minutes in line to try on a few shirts and dresses, and then waited another 20 or so minutes to purchase them. And then I went home. All in all, I bought three items for about 25% of their original price and felt successful.

At home I read the status updates of my friends who had braved much more unpleasant conditions–Walmarts and Best Buys and Targets at 4 in the morning or midnight on Thanksgiving. All but one was sorry for having gone. Many bemoaned the fate of humanity after seeing the mad rush on electronics and toys. Many said they went for the experience and, having had it, would never seek it out again.

We all know of the 2008 death of a Walmart employee trampled by consumers. The stampede did not let up even for police officers trying to help the man; a pregnant woman was hospitalized due to the same event. Apparently, Black Friday has reached new levels of crazy every year in the past decade; before that, it was not quite as insane of an event. The term originated in the late 1960s when the Philadelphia police complained of the overwhelming traffic jams the day after Thanksgiving brought to the city center. Only in the past few years, though, has it been the expectation of major retailers to open their stores earlier and earlier. This year was the first that Walmart officially began their sale at 10 pm on Thanksgiving night. Who can say how early sales will be pushed, and to what level the insanity will rise until consumers have had enough?

There are always those Cassandras who can foretell tragedies; in the case of Black Friday violence I present Sinbad and Arnold Schwarzenegger: