Black Friday may be my favorite day of the year. It is the essence of free market economics, the pinnacle of consumer euphoria; it is liquor to the wallet. Even the most hard bargaining of shoppers can be seduced into the grips of commercial madness. It’s a no holds barred circus of spending, 24 hours of mind bending gotta-have-it fun. And for these reasons, it was necessary for me to wake up at three in the morning.
Last year I wrote a post just like this one, except that I had generally failed in my original mission. I had wanted to attend the Midnight Madness special that takes place at Woodbury Commons, a massive retail outlet down the road from my mothers house. It went all according to plan, save for the fact that we didn’t actually make it inside of the mall because of massive traffic jam in the parking lot. With strong memories of this chaos, I made it a point to return this year and to document what must have been madness.
The problem with all of this, though, is twofold. First, Black Friday always falls the day after Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is usually accompanied by a significant amount of Champagne. Thus, by the time eleven PM rolled around and I was ready for my adventure, there was no way in hell that I was qualified to operate a vehicle. Mission delayed. I set my watch for three in the morning and went to bed. The second problem, and one that proved to be equally devastating to my plans, is that Champagne tends to give me a very robust hangover, and as such, there wasn’t a bargain in the world that was getting me out of bad that early. Game over. And so, the following morning at around nine, my mother and I set out to the mall, in exactly the same fashion as we had done the year before.
I was disappointed as soon as we arrived in the parking lot. Although it was not all that full, there was garbage on every square inch, and indication of the kind of insanity that must have taken place in the early hours of the morning. For all of you music fans out there, think of the pictures that were taken at the close of the Woodstock music festival.
Woodbury Commons is an outdoor mall, in that you must walk outside in order to get from store to store. It always makes me think of something that you would find in aspen, as the complex is comprised of quaint, clean white storefronts, along with some small mountains in the background. It was crowded enough that most stores had set up entry lines in order to do some crowd control. Burberry, Coach and Gucci had by far the longest, and I can never help but gawk at the people who stand on line to enter. It is reminiscent of the lines that you witness outside of attractions at an amusement park. Or perhaps it is like the premier to a Harry Potter movie, in which everyone dresses as their favorite character, except in this case everyone was dressed in the clothing of the store to which they were waiting entry.
The best part about the whole experience is that almost everyone shopping in this outlet is foreign. Busloads of tourist arrive from New York City and spend the day shopping for their favorite brands. Because of the great exchange rate, most of the clothing is significantly cheaper for them to purchase in the United States. It is not uncommon to encounter groups of eight and nine Japanese business men going from store to store looking at suits and very expensive leather shoes. I was told at some point or other that some of these men fly to the United States specifically to come shopping. True? Who knows, but in either respect, this place has become a Mecca of retail, and these are pilgrims, devout followers of a label.
My trip to outlet concluded, and I continued on the my next destination, none of than New York City itself. I particularly wanted to visit the massive, original Macy’s that sits on 34th street. As far as I could count, it has seven floors and sells just about everything in the way of clothing and accessories. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on the experience here, because it can generally be summed up in a few words. People. I have never seen so many people in one store. I actually got shoved and knocked over a large display of mascara. The guy who bumped into me declared “well that was close”.
The last few pictures in this series are from Times Square, which, on Black Friday, was about as crowded as I have ever seen it, save perhaps New Years Eve. There was a street performance happening, and you would have thought someone was handing out money. The lights were crazy, the crowds were brutal and I decided to make my way on to the next stop.