Not many people escape from their youth without working retail of some sort or another, and as I’ve mentioned before, I was not one of the lucky few. In college, I worked at Best Buy for several years, including three Black Friday extravaganzas the likes of which most people have never experienced from the other side of the cash register.

I realize that there’s a bit of irony in the girl who told you how to successfully queue for Lanvin telling you to stay the heck away from the lines this week, but Black Friday is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish entirely. Because of my history of service to the consumer hordes, my post-Thanksgiving shopping advice could probably go on ad nauseum, but it mostly boils down to this: the Internet is your friend, and those lines already forming outside of Target are not. In case you needed more convincing, I’ve got five reasons to stay home and shop online.

1. The people who are getting the good stuff are already in line.

You know those $199 laptops and $4 iPads and whatever other bizarrely low-priced hunks of conspicuous consumerism that you’re eyeing in the Black Friday ads today? Well, that stuff is just there to get people into the stores. Most of those things have some sort of tiny print underneath them in the Friday ads that says there will be a minimum number of units per store, but really, that should say maximum. Take it from someone who’s been on the other side of that trick: no store is going to sell more stuff at that steep of a loss than they have to, and dangling that shiny carrot is plenty to get most people out of bed before dawn to buy things they don’t really need and maybe don’t even want.

Most large stores will give out tickets for those ultra-limited items before the store opens to prevent utter chaos and impending violence, and unless you’re reading this on your iPhone from a parking lot tent right now, you’re not going to be far enough up in the line to get one. But really, that’s not a loss for you. It actually says positive things about your personality. Pat yourself on the back for not camping in a parking lot on a family holiday like a homeless person for an opportunity to spend money on things.

2. Sartre was right: hell is other people.

Having worked three consecutive 3 a.m. shifts at Best Buy’s Black Friday sale during my college years, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to watch people show their asses (sometimes literally) for the sake of buying some cheap DVDs. Take, for example, the fully grown woman who form-tackled a pallet full of DVD players as soon as she was let into the store for no obvious reason. Or the middle-aged father who my then-boss chased through the store at a full sprint because he had a PlayStation 2 under his jacket. Not only did he hurdle a chest freezer trying to get away, but he left his toddler in the store by herself after the cops took him to jail.

Or how about the family of four who waited for one of my former coworkers outside the store so that they could try and run her over in the parking lot because their credit card was declined by the machine at her register? Wait, wait, that wasn’t the day after Thanksgiving. That was Christmas Eve. Don’t even get me started on why or how, but for some reason, we had to have someone arrested every Christmas Eve. And usually on Black Friday, too.

There’s a reason that the annual playing of “The Ride of the Valkyries” over the store PA system was always my favorite part of the day – it was before anyone actually got inside.

3. Starbucks isn’t open that early.

And really, you don’t need to be involved in any of the aforementioned situations without your latte, at the very least. Actually, I’d suggest a latte and a cattle prod if you’re going to ignore my advice but still want to be fully prepared.

4. And if you’re going to ignore me, at least go later.

The most surprising thing that I learned from those 10-hour shifts was that there are few advantages to getting to any store at opening. You’ll just have to stand in line, probably outside in the cold, and the people who were queued up two days in advance are the ones who will be getting all of the limited-quantity stuff. For all of the other deals, you can still waltz in at at 8 or 9 a.m. and pick up most things without standing in line to gain entrance and or waiting forever to get to the cash register. Go later than that and you get the regular shoppers, earlier and you get the crazies. But in the middle of the morning, Black Friday has a sweet spot.

5. But really, don’t go. Shop online.

News organizations with little to report over the holiday weekend will probably make many references to Cyber Monday, like “cyber” is a word that people still use, but online sales have changed to mirror the more traditional retail model over the past couple of years. You don’t have to wait until Monday – in fact, many online sales are going on right now, while most of America is still getting drunk to avoid spending time with their racist uncles.

You don’t have to get up early, you don’t have to stand in the freezing cold, and you don’t have to elbow your way past grandmothers and children alike for a shot at the last Furby or whatever it is that kids play with these days. You don’t even have to put on pants! (But seriously, put on pants, your relatives are visiting.) In fact, when I worked retail, I’d leave my Black Friday morning shift, go home, and buy the things I wanted from my store’s sale on the company’s website. The deals were almost all the same, the wait was nonexistent and I got to do it in gym shorts.

So go forth and learn from my experiences, PurseBloggers. And if any of you made sweet potato pie for dessert tonight, send some my way.

P.S. Please consider supporting our small, bag-loving team by clicking our links before shopping or checking out at your favorite online retailers like Amazon, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, or any of the listed partners on our shop page. We truly appreciate your support!

Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • kjon

    So true! Reading this was as entertaining as one of your recaps :) Those stories are insane to say the least. I’m definitely doing my shopping online, can’t wait for net-a-porter’s sale!

    • Angela

      Oops – didn’t realize you could “reply” to posts! Does net-a-porter really have a Black Friday sale??

  • Angela

    @kjon – Does net-a-porter really have a Black Friday sale??

    • I’m not sure if they do or not, but I know they have a sale at the end of the year!

  • Lisa

    One more reason… someone who is just getting over a cold from h*** that lasted two weeks avoid the crowds and the colds with online shopping!!

  • kjon

    Oh my gosh sorry to create a fuss. I’m actually not sure if they have a black friday sale per se but their end of the season sale should be coming soon!

  • Staci

    Amanda, I am all about shopping online! And would totally send you a sweet potato pie if I was in ATL!

  • Lisa

    I agree! This year I took off Cyber-Monday and I am looking forward to it…(but that $50 Neiman Gift Card promotion is tempting)

  • mrsjones

    have checked some of the shopping sites but most items on sale are ones that i dont really like..the ones that i like are still regular-priced :(
    black friday or not, i still prefer online shopping!!

  • Wakh

    I haven’t stepped foot inside a store for Christmas presents for a good 8 years or maybe more. It’s the Internet all the way!

  • Liz G.

    I have been on the other side too for a lot of years. I have had the last 2 years off and I will never shop Black Friday! Online or bust for this gal!

  • Barb

    Well said! I always volunteer to work on Black Friday. (no longer in retail). keeps me out of trouble..I have always felt my time is worth money, saving 5 dollars or even 20 dollars isn’t worth 5 hours of my time. And another hint…most stores are open late..Everyone who got an early start is in bed. Go late really late if there is something you cannot live without!

  • Musette

    I didn’t know whether to howl with laughter or outrage at these stories. Someone really tried to run over your co-worker? Insanity!

    I live in a REALLY tiny (1500) town and we have been blessed with a little book/craft store – guy on a farm near here turns these gorgeous bowls from wood found back in his timber acreage – I’m keeping my little funds in town this season, buying these lovely bowls….and a book or 3.

    thanks for the Great post! lots of fun.


  • Louis Chrissy

    I would rather pay the extra 20 bucks for something than shop in the mall with all those people who only go to the mall twice a year. It make me uncomfortable to see big familes without shoes on and old off brand nikes with visor caps on. I went one time they kept asking me what section is my “purse” sold in…Louis Vuitton is not sold in Walmart…smh

  • hannah

    i literally was shaking my head agreeing with every SINGLE WORD you said!!! i have worked at american eagle, my boyfriend worked at lowe’s, my sister has worked at target, and my best friend has worked at old navy, and i showed this article to ALL of them. as former black friday workers, we could not agree more!! all of us shop online instead, or go on black friday around 9am and still get all the good deals!

    your recap is spot on!!

  • erica

    I came online looking for the ATL recap and I read this. Then I thought, is this my favorite ATL Housewives recap author at work here? I had to check the name. I knew it was you. You’re just funny all the time aren’t you?

    How about this lady on tv…she was in a tent since Tuesday or Wednesday and actually said, “Some people think Thanksgiving is only about food or hanging out with your family, but this is my tradition.” Yeah, who needs a warm meal and loved ones when you can freeze in a tent in front of a Best Buy for three days? crazy

  • Maggie

    This is why I do all of my shopping online! (ipad)

  • ninjaninja

    This had been a trend for several years now. (ipad)

  • Liza

    I get many benefits from shopping online, such as saving my time and money., it is a good site, nice products, fast shipment, good reply, good service. I really appreciate that, reliable…

    • kathryn

      i just went on the link on your comment and am confused. Is it supposed to be a knockoff store? because the first thing I saw was a $48 Hermes bag and no way are they even close to that.

  • cl

    some online but still some in stores… especially things for myself! i’m a texture & feel kind of girl! (ipad)

  • Sherry

    black friday whoop whoop (ipad)

  • Sherry

    online def a must (ipad)

  • Tiffany

    I’ve always preferred shopping online instead! (ipad)

  • Jelita78

    we don’t have black friday in malaysia but i sure do love reading about the events in private blogs.
    things we do for sale.. pure crazy..
    it must have a tinge of fun though, or else, it wouldn’t be rate as a “traditional” events by some people! haha.. (ipad)

  • Jen

    I always prefer to shop online! (ipad)

  • helen

    Definitely do black friday shopping online. (ipad)