Why Must We Buy? Black Friday’s Powerful Pull
|By JESSE WASHINGTON, AP National Writer|
Lured by earlier-than-ever Black Friday sales, people left Grandma and Grandpa in search of Samsung and
"But we're still out here," said
Jackson's resignation was common among those who flocked to capitalism's temples for the consumer equivalent of genuflecting. Many said that this Black Friday bled into Thursday crossed a line, that merchants should not intrude like this. Christmas is about the message of Jesus, the feeling went _ not about the gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Yet amid these protests, people still talked about feeling powerless beneath the moment _ as if they had no choice but to shop.
"You have to have these things to enjoy your children and your family," said Jackson's friend
Why must we buy? To demonstrate our love for others? To add a few more inches to our televisions? To help America recover from a vicious recession that itself was born of the desire for more?
Such questions make Jones wince. "It shouldn't be that way, but in a sense there's no way around it," said Jones, a nurse. "Everything ends up with a dollar amount. Even your happiness."
Retailers have long capitalized on the holiday season's perfect storm of emotion and tradition. "We all want to be loved, we all like to give love," says Roger Beahme, director of the
Many embrace the feeling _ and have, in accelerating ways, for a generation and more. Without legions of believers, Black Friday never would have gotten this bold. Despite a surge of resistance as the sales drew near, with scolding editorials and protests by retail employees and reminders of frantic tramplings past, Black Friday's grip on America may have been proven stronger than ever this year.
"It's all part of the holiday _ part of the tradition," said
"You get up in the morning, cook, do your dinner and your football, then you go shopping," River said. "It's the new thing now. Everyone's afraid of change."
"If they wanna have sales today," he said, "I'm gonna go shopping today."
The witching hour approached. Yellow CAUTION tape cordoned off the bargains and funneled a few thousand supplicants through aisles of ignored items _ yarn, shower curtains, party hats, clocks. Balloons printed with dollar signs followed by low numbers floated above the treasures.
As the cell phones struck eight, a din arose. Excited voices mixed with the sound of boxes dropping into metal shopping carts. The balloons danced as people dug into stacks of leather ottomans
The temperature climbed. An old man inched through the throng using a folding chair
"I'm not an angry person, but I was angry for the 20 minutes I was in there,"
She and her boyfriend,
"I wouldn't say Black Friday has taken over," said
For some, the items themselves can even take a back seat to the simple act of shopping.
They had no idea what they would buy. That was not the point.
For this group of single men in their early 20s, part of a generation who mark the passage of time by their first cell phones and video games, the point is spending time with each other at the source of the products that have always defined their lives.
"Our family is here," said Bredholt, who works for a health-care company. "With five guys on one mattress, you gotta be family."
What about studies that have shown better deals are available at other times of the year?
"Oh, really?" Jefferson said. "You just think, Black Friday! Oh, my gosh, that's the deal of the year."
"Maybe that's something I need to look into," she continued. "Because, I mean, if these aren't good deals, then what are we DOING then?"
AP National Writer
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