Nov 172011
Authors: Jason Pohl

In less than a week the Thanksgiving feast and ensuing nap will be taken over by consumer greed and mayhem at stores across the country.

People will be trampled and the scenes outside of major retailers will more than likely look like a scene from the movie “300.”

That’s right. Black Friday’s back.

The day after Thanksgiving has been known as the biggest shopping day of the year, when retailers’ begin to turn a profit for the year and go into the black.

But for shoppers around the country, it means more than that.

“It inaugurates the Christmas season,” said S.H. Mark Lee, an assistant professor of marketing at CSU. “It is considered to be a shopping day,”

But this inauguration comes at a price, and if the hoards of people waiting in lines as early as Thanksgiving afternoon during previous years are any indication, this year will be one for the record books.

What makes the day after Thanksgiving so crazed actually has a much deeper reason, according to Lee. He explained the day brings out different kinds of shoppers who turn out for different reasons.

Utilitarian shoppers, he said, are the ones who seek out the deals and will stop at nothing to get them.

“Sometimes consumers don’t think rationally, but at that moment, it’s about finding the best deal,” he said.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are experiential shoppers, or those who go simply to be with the crowds and experience the craze, allowing for conversation afterward about the experience of battling for that marked-down TV.

“It’s almost like they want to get trampled,” Lee said.

To accommodate the influx of people and minimize the trample-risk, large retailers around the country are prepared to maximize profits and traffic in the door. Lee explained retailers push the concept of night shopping, and implement a strategy that leads people to the back of the store, encouraging more impulse buys.

In preparation, retailers including Target will provide maps to shoppers and employ a “robust crowd management plan” to make sure things move smoothly, according to Antoine LaFromboise, a representative from Target’s communications department.

“Each year we review our approach and make enhancements as necessary,” he added.

People from all walks of life are sure to line up when major retailers open as early as 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, and the sales continue throughout the weekend.

One of those waiting in line will be Crystal Smith, a junior human development and family studies major. Smith said she would “probably” be out fighting the crowds Friday for the first time.

“It’s just kind of exciting,” she said.

But not everyone remains convinced the experience or deals makes the barbarian behavior worth it.

“Saving a few bucks isn’t worth standing in line for 30 hours,” said Cierra Carrico, a sophomore human development and family studies major. “Time is money.”

For those, like Carrico, who don’t want to fight the crowds at the major chain retailers, Fort Collins offers a variety of local shops that may not serve up the huge deals and ferocious crowds, but do bring something traditional to the shopping experience.

Susie Wilmer and her husband own Old Firehouse Books in Old Town, Fort Collins. Operating out of an old building, Wilmer explained that the smaller stores might not be able to offer the enormous discounts or cater to the enormous crowds.

But for those looking for author visits, customer service and a traditional retail atmosphere, she said that buying local through the holidays is the way to go –– and a lot less stressful.

“Independent bookstores are only ever going to be able to point out that we are the community,” Wilmer said. “We’re pushing community.”

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at

 Posted by at 3:06 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.