I Never Did Get That Nook
Full of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and pecan pie - and more than a little tired from chasing oak leaves - I passed up a nice fire and early to bed for the madness of crowds.
After all, this was not only Thanksgiving Day - it was Black Thursday. Sucker. Off I went to Sam Walton's supercenter to join the throng.
Throng it was, with every single parking space taken, far as I could see.
I started hunting taillights, found some just coming on and rolled up behind to wait for that car to leave and make room for me.
The enticement was a special 10 p.m. deal on a Nook Color. I figured (mistakenly, as usual) that meant there would be no need to get down to Aberdeen much before 10. Wrong. Apparently people started lining up at 5, or earlier. By 10 - sale time - they were all gone.
I guess the idea is that low prices like this get customers in the door. They know they'll run out. Everybody knows they will run out. It's a holiday game: At some stores people line up days, weeks early and camp out on sidewalks.
I don't know who invented Black days, but my plan would send them to the same circle of Inferno as inventors of the hold button, touch-tone queues, pay-TV, airplane pricing and homogenized milk.
That's just me. I bet you have your own list.
A flier guaranteed three items I didn't want. Had I wanted an iPad 2, or a 40-inch flat-screen TV, or a Blu-Ray player, they'd ship one later if they sold out - which of course they did. Promise.
That implied there was no promise at all that you could actually buy any of the other things in the sales flier. It clearly said "limited to stock on hand" on everything else. Maybe they'd have one or two; but when those were gone in the first microseconds of the magic time, you'd just have to buy something else.
I figure that was the original idea. Advertise as widely as you can a few great deals you won't actually have to make good, since you won't have nearly as many on hand as the number of folks who come to buy one - but they'll be inside the store and fair game.
Puzzle to me, however, was letting people line up early and wait - patiently or impatiently - for hours and hours. A long line stood for a Nook at one counter until the 10 p.m. moment instead of prowling the store and shopping. Looks like Sam would have wanted them merry-go-rounding everything else while waiting to snatch the gold ring.
On some items they handed tickets to early birds and said wander around, just be back at the spot by sale time. That's what I did on a TV deal: took my ticket and wandered about. Had a nice chat with the manager about the new Express store in Carthage. He was happy, though not surprised, by the turnout. I asked if any demand surprised him, and one did. Lots more wanted a certain smartphone than he'd thought would.
All guaranteed item stock went out the door quickly, and customers who couldn't take their iPad, Blu-Ray or big TV home seemed satisfied with paying now for promised before-Christmas delivery.
So, when I showed up at the magic spot at one minute before The Moment, I was not happy to hear they'd had so much interest that somebody told the associates to go ahead and sell out the TV stock. None left. Out of luck. I was right encouraged when management cheerfully made good by offering an equivalent (actually, a better) model in a different brand.
Meanwhile, I did run into friends, enjoyed the crowd's excitement, and got home with a bargain while managing to avoid tempting leftovers whispering from the fridge. Except for lunch, I stayed on my diet.
Except for lunch.
Contact John Chappell at email@example.com.
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