Back in the mid to late 1990s, shopping malls were still in their heyday. So was our Reser Thanksgiving celebration that took place at my parents’ house and included my dad’s seven siblings and their families. After a joyous, crazy, loud, and fun Turkey Day, my siblings and I would tag along with our aunts, uncles, and cousins to Northtown Mall for Black Friday shopping.
It was a spectacle. Police had to direct traffic in the parking lots, the building was filled to capacity, stores went to great lengths to attract people through their doors, and elaborate Christmas decorations along with the presence of Santa made the mall a special place to be…especially for a 10-year-old boy.
Those were my first memories of Black Friday. Since then, things have changed. Throughout my lifetime I have witnessed the day after Thanksgiving evolve from congregating at malls disguised as winter wonderlands to something almost unrecognizable. Black Friday moved from shopping centers to standalone retail stores. The day itself grew longer too as businesses opened in the wee hours of the morning. Then that wasn’t enough so Black Friday Eve (aka shopping on Thanksgiving) became a thing. The digital revolution then exploded and allowed shoppers to take advantage of the “deals” without even stepping foot into a crowded hell many people refer to as Target.
But then the pandemic came along. Consumerism and holiday cheer took a big hit last year and enthusiasm for Black Friday lessened.
With the COVID landscape improved from 2020, Black Friday is back and so are some of the more traditional aspects of it. I have watched my wife frantically scribble in a notebook the past week as she records Nov. 26 deals. She has scanned newspaper ads, browsed her phone, and formulated a game plan for Black Friday that will have her visiting stores around Spokane and me watching “An Elf’s Story” with the kids.
The wonderment I had with Black Friday 25 years ago has been mostly replaced with cynicism and bank account anxiety. But I must admit, seeing Sidney’s intensity and dedication to Black Friday 2021 has been kind of…um…inspiring? I guess that is what a pandemic will do to you. Don’t Blink.