What They Forget To Tell You

by Dave Jackson

Yes, kids and adults are all there. At least, if you get up at the crack of dawn and make it to the store in time. In this country, they have to be there – or our Federal Trade Commission pays them a visit. Even so, there are several things not mentioned in the beautiful sales flyers that grace our newspapers this time of year.

It’s a chilly 54 degrees outside – enough to make the morning conversation at the local Starbucks. The morning star, (Venus), was high over the rooftop. I make my way to Kmart, since they’re closest, to pick up the $19.99 DVD player. A few cars were in the parking lot and inside a few people were shopping, mostly, I saw many come out of the store. It was 6:15 AM. There was a slight delay at the check-out, but isn’t that typical of Kmart? Soon, I was out the door and on my way to Best Buy. Remember the $29.95 MP3 player? I wanted to check it out.

Arriving at the Best Buy parking lot my jaw dropped. It was 6:25 AM and the parking lot was ALMOST FULL! And these guys just opened at six! My first impression was – wow, this must be where all the good stuff is! So I entered. The store was a maze. Literally. They had placed boxes so you’d have to walk toward the TV’s and down in to appliances to get to any other area of the store. Okay, so where are the MP3 players? Once I got over to music, I asked. Thankfully, there were enough workers in the store. Plenty of help and people asking if I found everything.

When I got to the MP3 players, there were many, but none of the ones in the flyer were left. However, I lucked out. Someone had placed one on the shelf below and I picked it up. Now, I went to get in line.

The media had been telling me, but it didn’t sink in. They kept saying, “Expect long lines. Merchants expect a big year, this year.” Well, I started walking against the line that was headed to the checkout. And walking. And walking. Hey, the flyer never mentioned this! But Best Buy was ready. The line to the checkout snaked through over half of the store. Incredible. When I finally arrived at the end, it was at least 30 minutes till my turn.

We moved and stopped, moved and stopped. Our eyes were catching everything along the aisles: DVD’s, TV monitors with video clips, cell phones for sale, cordless phones, boom boxes. I noticed that many people were carrying portable DVD players, the type you can use in a car. Wow, what a nice gift! But I’m in line – and half way to the front. An employee offers bite sized Snickers to everyone in line. These guys had their act together.

So eventually I arrived at the checkout, paid for my MP3 player and while walking to the door, convinced myself that it would be awesome if I could get one of those mini DVD players for our car. But look at that line. Look at it. No one told me about that.

The security guy at the door suggested it would be better to take my purchase to the car before re-entering. I complained that I was parked in the next county, but at 6:50 AM, that’s not too funny. Walking to the car the cool air hit me again. The parking lot was still full. My only thought was about the DVD player – would it still be there when I returned? I walked as fast as I could and returned to the store. But it wasn’t all that far and as soon as I arrived an employee helped me find exactly what I was looking for. Nice. But, back in line.

I suppose if they told us everything, we’d soon be comparing prices to time, shopping online and figuring out other ways to make the best use of our time. Maybe someone could start a surrogate shopper service. Stand in line for us for $X an hour. But then there’d be the problem of paying for the merchandise, delivery. I bet someone could figure that out. Until then, I now know that they’ll leave the part about the long lines out of the pretty flyers. I’ve made a mental note to bring my Christmas card list and a stack of envelops for next year.

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