Pros and cons of Black

ReAnne Utemark

Most college students have a secret life. Some deep, dark place they go because they have to. For some, this place is one of the restaurants on Wanamaker; for others, it’s West Ridge Mall.

These “after school” jobs are a necessity for many university students to pay rent and tuition. This is understandable, particularly with rising tuition and cost of living.

Mall workers or indeed, anyone familiar with working in retail, know next week is a big week. Not because of the turkey or the family or the football, but because of Black Friday, which is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. As The Review is not publishing next week, Black Friday should be highlighted before the impending doomsday.

For workers, it means getting up at 4:30 a.m. to be at work at least by 5 a.m. and, for many, working long shifts. For shoppers, it means getting one’s list ready, dividing up into teams and polishing one’s elbow-throwing skills.

Why would anyone get up after eating a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner to go out at 5 a.m. on what is more than likely to be a frigid morning to get cheap electronics and gift sets? Also, 5 a.m. is a late start this year as many stores will be open at midnight.

Let the Christmas season begin.

This will not be some random diatribe against Christmas or the consumerism that pervades the Christmas season or the fact that Christmas started immediately after Halloween this year. Those editorials have been done, everyone knows Christmas came too early and that everyone seems to forget the spirit of Christmas.

It has been happening for years and will continue to happen, particularly with the increase in emphasis on Black Friday, which is when businesses can get a leg up on clearing out old inventory and begin to round out the fiscal year in the black. This used to be more of a game when retailers would only put their deals in the Thanksgiving newspaper. As one who used to deliver newspapers, Thanksgiving was a dreaded day because the papers easily weighed more than a pound per paper. That’s a lot to carry on one’s bike handlebars. Now, anxious shoppers can pore over the ads being “leaked” online at Web sites such as and While this is easier on the backs of newspaper delivery people, it takes a lot of the contest out of Black Friday shopping.

Also, there are some businesses that are doing special events for Black Friday with local media outlets and have avoided the suspense of one-day ads by handing out flyers for the past week.

Despite all of this, Black Friday comes down to one thing: shopper vs. corporation. Businesses will use all sorts of underhanded tricks to get people in the door. For example, offering insanely low prices for “assorted DVDs” when “assorted” means “movies that sucked.” As well, low prices for electronics will be offered, but it is only after rebate or the laptop computer for only $300 will have the same amount of power a desktop did when AOL was the only way to access the Internet.

Black Friday is a real anomaly because on one hand, it became a family tradition, but therein lies the rub: Should a day, which has turned into two incredibly long days, become a tradition? This tradition, which has piggybacked on a holiday surrounded in legend and tradition itself? Think about these things as you are enjoying the Thanksgiving break, whether that enjoyment comes from being with family, the food or the cheap stuff companies try and shove off on you.

That being said, my Christmas shopping is done.