Eight years ago on Black Friday, I rolled out of bed at 3 a.m. only to arrive in Duluth an hour later to find myself 300 people deep in line at the parking lot at Best Buy in Duluth. As the crowd had already begun to swell a few hours earlier, Arco and Sprint sent representatives around with free hot coffee and cookies. Adding to the festive atmosphere, K-Rock 95 pulled up and began broadcasting from their van.
With notebook and camera in hand, I walked to the front of the line to interview whoever held the sacred spot of the first shopper. To my amazement, there stood none other than Moose Lake’s own Ben Wasche.
“I called up a couple of buddies and asked them if they wanted to do something crazy,” Ben told me. By 7 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve, Ben had secured the prime spot, while his buddies went back to the car to stay warm. Although it would be several hours before Ben would get any company, Lady Luck seemed to be riding with him that evening. The next people to show up were two young ladies who mentioned they had a tent in their car along with a couple of sleeping bags. Always the gentleman, Ben of course offered to set up the tent in exchange for the warmth and comfort of the candle-heated interior.
I asked Ben what product drove him to such shopping idiocy. He stated, “I came to get one of the laptop computers, but I really didn’t need one. I did this more as an adventure.”
When I asked him if he would do it again next year, he instantly replied, “Oh, yeah! Just for the fun!”
Although eight years ago he bought the bargain laptop for $200, ironically he could buy an even better one today for that price without having to camp out to be first in line. I think he doubled his money though, so the waiting in line was undoubtedly worth it.
Once inside, bumping into people was a frequent occurrence Friday morning and I even got rear-ended by a shopping cart, which earlier doubled as a versatile parking lot tool. A couple of enterprising young lads overturned several of the carts, wrapped them in bubble wrap and placed a few strategic candles to create a warm shelter. Best Buy also became inventive when they created a barricade of shopping carts to prohibit line jumping, mostly to no avail.
After escaping Best Buy with my sanity and body mostly intact, I decided to check out the action at the mall. By then the crowds were already inside the stores, gobbling up merchandise like it was yesterday’s turkey.
By 8 a.m. I had arrived safely back in Moose Lake to check out the local specials. Perusing the ads and the merchandise on the shelves, I quickly recognized that our local stores not only matched most things the cities to the north had to offer, but the personal attention and friendliness was superior to that of the Twin Ports.
Black Friday has lost some of its importance in recent years. Currently the battle is about who opens first for business on Thanksgiving Day. I guess the poor old turkey just doesn’t get the respect it once did. Watch for the annual Presidential Pardon for Tom the Turkey to get dismantled with the Affordable Care Act.
If you want to save on gas, and dislike long lines and big crowds, think about supporting your hometown businesses. I found it so much easier and more pleasant to deal with our local Moose Lake establishments. Happy Thanksgiving, happy holidays, merry Christmas, Hanukah, winter solstice, Eid, Kwanzaa and best of the season for anyone I left out including Santa who is sleeping at my house.