Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Friday 1978

BLACK FRIDAY is here again.

Fresh on the minds of those who dozed off from turkey (not tofurky) at the early noon hours of Thursday, they were caching up on sleep, ready to cash in on the dawn-breaking deals, gearing up for camping outside, snaking lines around buildings of the big boxers and malls early Friday morning, awaiting hearty deals and avoiding stampedes of people wanting to bombard the Walmart at 4am for a $79 giant-screen thirdworld LCD TV or quite possibly access to a Wii.

They weren't thinking about this stuff... in 1978. Or were they?

Roll your cart back down the aisle -- if you can fit it down the aisle!

The "Black Friday" retail tradition has more or less been hijacked over recent time, specifically by the material age and isn't the same as the day in history Steely Dan eluded to on Katy Lied, instead, the day is typically heralded as one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In fact, it's not, but it's the one and only day were dedication to standing long hours in frigid outdoor lines and getting sick deals on high-priced goods they may or may not get upon arriving at the gates. Don't worry about its meaning, it's "Black" largely in part of the immense volume of would-be spenders, but conversely the very climate of dead-cold darkness before conventional opening hours -- not necessarily crippling sales for retailers as you may have been lead to believe in the past.

While the term wasn't officially a household term back even ten years ago, the day after Thanksgiving is the prized grand slam, kick-off to shopping for the Christmas season -- even back thirty years ago.

However, in 2008, the retail and financial crisis of this [unofficial] holiday seem to be merging with the current dour spending climate in the U.S. (and comparable to one era of "stagflation" back in the late 70's), as well as the sour retail market amidst some big name closures and cutbacks this year. It's not likely to break tradition; meaning droves of people at the malls, especially with some retailers teetering on extinction, Walmart and Best Buy will predictably continue to lure the most bargain hunters long before, into and after the sun wakes.

The electronic age of the 2000s exploded with the "must-haves"; LCD TVs, MP3 players, all-in-one cellular gadgetry, an impossible-to-find video game console, GPS devices -- more distractions, more things people will fill their closets with and toss out before Black Friday 2009. And you know what to expect: the annual Walmart trample, the midnight tents, foaming mouthed zombies, and lines in below freezing late November temps (while asleep in my warm slumber) and newsstories of caffeine-maniacal early morning shoppers who picked up a radical deal.

Should you go, have fun shoppers and bundle up, maybe consider body armor. If you're not going or waiting it out until afternoon (like me) and you choose to stay home cozy at wee hours of morning, get a load of what consumers were saving their cents on back in good old '78 at our favorite defunct retailer Caldor: toys for the little buckaroos, portable black-and-white TVs, wood-trimmed "stereo" FM radios, power tools, hot $5 LPs (Steely Dan Greatest Hits, anyone?!) and more.

"The Big Holiday"; Caldor advertisements that ran on in the November 23 (above) and November 24, 1978 (below) issue of The Hartford Courant ("Black" Friday 1978).