Personal Narrative: What’s it Really Like to Go Black Friday Shopping in New York?
Black Friday: the one time of year where it is absolutely acceptable to rip a flat screen TV out of someone's hands in the middle of a Wal-Mart at 4am. The time of year when people sprint across parking lots knocking down anything and anyone obstructing their pathway to the deals. I think it can be agreed that Black Friday is the closest thing the United States will ever have to a real life purge.
There are movies, advertisements, and articles all about how unforgettably insane this day is. But, in recent years with the popularization of Cyber Monday, fewer and fewer Americans are showing out to what I like to call the “grandest haul of the year.” So, are people still as crazy as they once were during Black Friday’s past? And, what is it really like to go Black Friday shopping in New York City? Keep reading to find out.
Woodbury Commons is a Premium Outlet Center located in Central Valley, New York, which is a little less than an hour drive from midtown Manhattan. But, Woodbury Commons is not just any outlet mall, oh no. It is one of the busiest, most tourist-filled, and hectic shopping centers in America. Shuttle buses run from hotels in Manhattan directly to the outlet center due to the importance of this tourist trap. Tourists will literally bring an empty suitcase there just to fill it with their purchases, and this is on a regular day. Not only does this luxury outlet center have a Shake Shack, but it is home to 1 of the 18 Lululemon outlets in the entire country.
When it came time for me to finally go Black Friday shopping for the first time, there was really no question as to where we would be shopping. That's right, Woodbury Commons, because not only does it have some of the best deals, it also happens to be located in the town where my cousins live.
The announcement was made by my aunt at night on Thanksgiving. She said firmly,
“Anyone who wants to go Black Friday shopping needs to start getting ready to go now.”
When I heard this announcement at first I was a bit baffled. I was thinking Really, we need to leave now? We are like 7 minutes away. But nonetheless, I volunteered to be one of the brave shoppers who would put their stamina to the test. In the end, only myself and my older cousin, Reegan, volunteered to go. Our winter clothes were our battle armour, the Honda Accord was our chariot, and songs by One Direction and Taylor Swift served as our battle cry.
Within two minutes of our journey to the Commons I realized why we had to leave an hour before midnight. The traffic was backed up all over the town. Bright car lights flooded the street, unmoving and coming from every direction. We sat in traffic for maybe 30 minutes, watching as the cars slowly rolled toward the Commons. It was the middle of the night, but the illuminating headlights made it feel as bright as day.
We had come to the consensus that we would only try and look for parking close to the stores once, and if we found nothing, we would drive away from the Commons to where parking was more readily available. The downside to that, however, was that by the time we would walk all the way back to the stores, the lines would already be unbearable to wait in. So as we finally neared, we held our breath and turned the corner into the massive parking lot. Already, we were seeing nothing. Every spot appeared to be filled, but we continued slowly rolling down every aisle just to make sure. Just as we were about to throw in the towel and turn around, I spotted it. An empty spot at the end of the aisle, right near the sidewalk. If we could get that spot we would be as close to the stores as possible. The minute I spotted it I yelled, “THERE’S A SPOT! STEP ON IT!” All of a sudden the car felt like it was thrown to the side, and we were speeding down the aisle. Another car was pulling around the corner and was much closer to the spot, but we were not going to give up now. Just as the other car was about to pull in we sped in front of them and stole the last spot. We saw the angered face of the woman in the other car, but there isn’t fairness when it comes to Black Friday.
By now it was probably close to one thirty a.m and pretty much all the stores are now open for business. Once we were officially parked, my cousin turned down the Christmas music that was currently serving as the soundtrack to our fast and furious moment and yelled. “Alright let's move out!” We both swung our doors open and sprinted off toward the stores yelling back and forth which ones we wanted to stop at. Sure, we were the only ones running but we knew it would be a good idea to keep at a running pace so that we could hit as many locations as possible. We decided the best idea would be to split up, to hit the stores that we individually wanted to go to. So the first store I stopped at that night was Tommy Hilfiger.
At many stores, there is a maximum occupancy level and Tommy Hilfiger was no exception. There was a line outside the door, and I had to wait in it until a certain amount of people left. Luckily, it didn’t take long to get into the store. Once in the store, the first thing I noticed was the temperature difference. The New York November air was chilling, yet the inside of the Tommy Hilifiger store felt like it had flipped to one of the hottest days of summer. The store was messy as anything. Everything was mismatched and laying all over the place; you had to have a good eye to find what you wanted. I remember finding a 50-percent-off sweater in the corner, but there was a lady blocking my way. She, too, was observing the sweater, so I waited as she looked it up and down. When she walked away without the sweater, I snatched it off the hook and continued my journey through the store. After about 30 minutes, I had my items and made my way to check out, where yet another line awaited me. My entire purchase was about 100 dollars and I ended up saving about 75. I left the store, with one thought in my head: That was a steal.
After my Tommy Hilifiger excursion, I met back up with my cousin and we visited stores such as American Eagle and Under Armour to buy christmas gifts for our family. We wanted to stop at Lululemon, but the line was down the street. Overall, after Tommy Hilfiger the stores I visited weren’t really all that crazy. They were all messy and crowded, but they really didn’t fit the mold of what you imagine a store would be like during Black Friday.
After closely comparing my Black Friday experience with shopping on Cyber Monday, one thing is clear. You don’t participate in Black Friday to necessarily buy everything that you want for cheaper, you participate in Black Friday for the experience. I mean, I think it is really neat that I can say I went Black Friday shopping in New York even though I may not have been able to purchase everything I wanted.
According to my experience, Black Friday is definitely not the same as it appears on TV, but to be fair I didn’t go hunting for flat screen TV’s. Also, I realized after analyzing my experience that I was the crazy person that people tell stories about; I was the one who was running through the streets and stealing parking spots. If you go Black Friday shopping with family or friends, it can really be a fun and rewarding experience, so I recommend you try it out. So, enjoy this holiday while you still have the energy to sprint through malls, because even if you don’t score that MacBook or the fuzzy socks, you will have a story to tell.