Black Friday Gateway to the Dark Side — A repost from 2009

First of all, you need to understand that I am not a shopper.  If faced with a few free hours my first inclination is not to go to the mall.  I shop when I need or want something specific.  Even when I go, I shop, I find, I buy.  Knowing this you will naturally understand why I have never found it necessary to get up before dawn on the Friday after Thanksgiving to go buy stuff that surely I will find during my Christmas shopping ritual.  While I do approach Christmas shopping differently than normal shopping, it’s never been worth it to me to get up at some horribly early morning to shop.  I enjoy Christmas shopping for the loved ones on my list and finding the ultimate gift to fit the person.gifts

Except for this year; I’m writing this 48 hours after the experience because it has taken me that long to recover.  You see, my husband wanted a new computer for Christmas and we were considering one for Cole as well.  We shopped it online Thanksgiving night and found that a local store with low, low prices were having a doorbuster sale starting at five in the morning.  Five in the morning, did I love my husband enough to get up at four thirty and go out in the cold for the purchase?  Yes, I do.  So I printed the ad and set the alarm.

The alarm went off and I got up, brushed my teeth and washed my face grabbed the ad and left.  When I turned on the car the radio was playing Christmas music.  I thought “how cool, this could be fun.”  The neighborhood was quiet. It was an easy drive to the store with the low, low prices.  Then I turned onto the road to the store, came over the rise and there before me was a sea of cars.  I had never seen so many cars in the parking lot.  They were even parked at the gas pumps and the pharmacy drive-through.  Remember the sale was to start at five, it was four fifty-five when I pulled into the parking lot.

I parked in the back of the store, grabbed my ad to go in find the computers choose the one I came for, buy it and leave; as you can guess it didn’t turn out that way.

I walked into the store to immediately see checkout lines a mile long.  It was just then seven minutes after five how were their carts already full!  There were people everywhere hauling big screen televisions, clothing and toys.  There was a kiosk of movies that looked like a beehive swarming.  I tried to get a peek but decided to stay focused on my mission.  To look around and find my route to electronics I saw faces of people not filled with Christmas joy or the joy of buying the cool presents for those they love. Children were crying. I saw blank stares and intense glares at anyone who would get in their way.  I was in over my head.  Weaving and bobbing through the aisles, I found electronics and laptop computers.

There I was — chaos all around — staring at an empty case.  I kept looking at the ad in my hand and the case and no computers appeared.  A woman standing next to me had a computer in her arm.  I asked which model it was.  It was, in fact, the one I was looking for.  She was very helpful to tell me that those computers were being distributed down in hunting and fishing.

To get to hunting and fishing I had to navigate through toys.  When I looked down the main aisle through the forest of games and toys and parents running amuck with lists, I reaffirmed my mission and purpose and headed straight through.  On the other side, I found a cashier, a long line and a pallet of computers.  When I asked if this was the line for the computers I was told yes, but I needed a voucher. A voucher? I was pointed to a worker a few feet away who was handing out the vouchers. Great; I go ask the lady for a voucher.  She told me she didn’t have anymore. Didn’t have any more?  The sale started less than fifteen minutes ago?  How could they have been out?  I thanked the lady.  Looked at the line that I would not have a voucher to join and made my way back through the store.

I considered other shopping when I came to my senses and looked around at the crazed shoppers.  I had to leave the mayhem and craziness. I just wanted to go home.  Where were my ruby slippers?  Driving home, I kept recanting the whole experience.  I didn’t understand what all the hubbub was all about.  There was nothing fun about my experience.  To see all those people with full carts you would have thought they were giving everything away.  I really wanted to say to someone, “you know you have to pay for all that.” But I guess they knew that.

This was not the Christmas spirit, it was retail mayhem.  Inutsonut so.  This was no way to launch into a season of silent night holy night. This experience needed to be trained for, it wasn’t for the casual shopper.  Someone should have warned me.

I may have to pay a little more for that one “must-have” item.   There was nothing about that experience that helped me feel the Christmas spirit.  And I’m pretty sure anything I would have saved I would have spent with my therapist getting over my PTSD (post traumatic SHOPPING disorder).

Merry Christmas,
KK

P.S. — It’s been several years, still the thought of early morning black Friday shopping gives me a stomach ache. As long as I don’t feel any absolute need to make a specific purchase I can go out in the afternoon just for the fun of it.

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A Girl and Her Shoes

There are many stereotypes about women and their shoes. To be honest, if I had a little more excess in my budget, buying shoes would be my guilty pleasure.

Admit it ladies, the right pair of shoes can finish an outfit and provide just the right amount of sass for an evening out. I’ve had these shoes for a couple of years. Over the last few months I’ve noticed my faithful black shoes are looking tired and ready to retire. I can’t do it without finding the perfect replacement guaranteed to set the tone for anyIMG_0122-0 event. They have the perfect combination of platform and heal height. This will not be an easy task.

IMG_0123The hunt will be a challenge and a little overwhelming for this non-shopper. In the meantime, I can’t wear these any longer. Part of what is holding me back is the disposal process. Shoving them in a stinky trash bag seems so drastic. Maybe I will give them their own trash bag.

Their epitaph —

Here in this bag lays a pair of fun (and comfortable) shoes, thank you for serving my wardrobe so well. Farewell friends — rest easy in shoe heaven. Kick your heals up a little.

All the best,

KK

Five years and counting

khr 0614 BOk friends, I’ve been posting and you’ve been kind enough to read my writings for five years. As I read back through all the different posts some are more my favorites than others. Below is a list of some that stand out to me (in no particular order). Let me know what you think. Or go through the archives and pick your own favorite. I’d love to hear which one you liked.

And if you haven’t clicked on the follow button yet, please do. You won’t want to miss what’s coming. Besides, in this vast world of the internet, it’s encouraging to know my words aren’t just flying around aimlessly. They have friends to visit. Thanks.

5/31/2009 Things not to miss — be in the moment

11/30/2009 Black Friday Gateway to the Dark Side

3/6/2012 ‘Tis the Season

4/18/2014 It’ Friday, Sunday’s Coming

4/8/2013 Say Please and Thank You

KK

Rushing Retail

Fair_volleyball_wingsDecember 26th I passed a Valentine display at Wal-Mart.  It gave me a frustrated pause.  We live in this world of being never satisfied, wanting instant gratification, and rushing to the next thing.  Any chance those in retail encourage and promote this mindset?  There are entire Seasonal sections of big box stores.   These sections are the gateway to the buyer not being happy in the moment.  What’s coming up next?

It is our responsibility to control how much we let outside forces like advertising, email and other social media control our time.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about planning when it’s pertinent to my priorities and not because Hallmark thinks I need to purchase cards and candy six weeks early.  What do you do to not let these outside messages take over your time and day-planner?

All the best,

KK

Being Crafty

craft itemsA couple of weeks ago I went to a well-known craft store (the mecca of crafters in the Louisville area).  I am not a crafter, but I recognize the value of this store.  We needed a piece of black photo matting and spray adhesive for a project my son was working on.

As I walked in a whoosh of the aroma of glue sticks, paint and artificial flowers overcame me.  Having shopped in this store I knew the direct path to the photo/framing area.   A sales lady greeted me and wanted to help me quickly (20 minutes to closing).  There was little chit-chat.  She understood what I was looking for, but kept trying to sell me far more of the mat board than I wanted.  This would have saved her from having to custom cut a piece.  Nonetheless, she finally relented and understood that for my purposes, a custom piece was the best buy.  She went to make the cuts.

Prior to her exit, I asked where I could find spray adhesive.  Remember I’m a stranger in this land of craft supplies.  Her answer taught me just how much I didn’t know about where I was.   She said, “Follow this aisle at the back of the store past the craft items; it will be down the aisle on the left.”   While I listened to all of the directions, when I turned to follow the back aisle, it occurred to me that in my inexperienced mind, ALL of the aisles were craft items.  I didn’t realize there were sub-categories of craft items.  I had to wonder, are there other things I needed to know, like the language and crafting etiquette? Watch your manners…

Having only five minutes left in store hours according to the overhead speaker, I began the journey looking down EVERY aisle.  Before I got too far off the one aisle I knew would lead me back to my custom cut board, a friendly clerk asked to help and led me directly to adhesive spray and even made a suggestion.craft items 2

True confession:  going to a craft supply store makes me want to buy, take up a craft and create something.

Store was closing – whew – bought only what I needed and left.  No new hobbies.  To my friends who are crafters, you have my admiration and appreciation for your talents.

What are your hobbies?

All the best,

KK

Let’s Talk Customer Service

mediocrity 2Over 85% of the jobs in the United States are service oriented.    These services may focus external of the business such as a customer service representative or any employee who interacts with customer making a purchase.  Other service position focus internally such as an administrative department or IT department of a company.

Let’s take a look at those roles in which the services provided directly impact the image of a company, the future of its employees and sales.   As consumers we carry an expectation when making a purchase.  Our expectation falls in line with the quality or expense of the item we are going to purchase.  Therefore, our expectations when at a fast food restaurant are different from that of a four-star restaurant.  Can we agree on this?

I have to give kudos to an employee at the MacDonald’s in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.  I went in to purchase a plain cheese burger for my mother-in-law.  The restaurant was fairly busy. After standing in line for a short time, I placed my order, paid, waited and when handed a bag, I walked out.  Before I stepped off the sidewalk, a female employee came after me and said, “Mam, I’m sorry, we gave you the wrong burger.  That isn’t a plain cheese burger.”  A little surprised with her effort in the midst of a lunch rush, I followed her in to trade what was in my bag, for the correct special order burger.   She handed me the new bag, smiled and apologized again.

I must admit, I walked out thinking two things:  “Way to go McDonald’s for hiring such a good employee and that girl will go places.”  She took her entry level, order-taking position at McDonald’s seriously.  With so many jobs available in service positions, to be successful for both the ework ethic 2mployer and the employee, it is the front line employees (representatives of the business) who make the difference.

On the contrary to my experience at the fast food giant McDonald’s, I was recently doing weekly shopping at the Stoneybrook Kroger.  I went in the morning in the middle of the week; not a really busy time for the grocery.  I went through the store with my list and coupons filling our family’s food needs.  With the list fulfilled I proceeded to the checkout.  After completely unloading the cart, I remembered an item I didn’t pick up.  So I asked the cashier where the humus could be found.  She looked at me blankly and said, “I have no idea.  I’m up here all day.  I don’t know where anything is in the store.” She went back to ringing up the groceries making no effort to ask someone else where the item could be found.

Holding back my laugh and lecture of this twenty-something, I shook my head, and finished my transaction.  Looking at her badge, I was hoping to find a trainee sticker or some reason she wouldn’t have a clue where to find items in the store.  There was no indication of being a recent addition to the Kroger team.  I will find humus elsewhere, but the sad thing is that the cashier will go nowhere.  She is a “front line” representative of the Kroger Company and has no idea where to find things in the store.

I will gladly extend grace to customer a representative who are obviously having a bad day but still shows up and tries.  And to those in entry-level positions who take the opportunity seriously as a proving ground for their future, “good for you”!

To those who are in a position of hiring or of mentoring the new employees or young adults in a business, PLEASE, help these young people learn early in their careers, how doing even the most entry-level position with care and excellence will make all the difference in where they find themselves down the road.

All the best,

KK

Gray Thursday

It has been a long-standing tradition in families across America that on Thanksgiving Thursday after over-stuffing on the turkey and fixings the football fans retire to take their naps in front of a bowl game.  Meanwhile the shoppers in the family spread the newspaper ads out on the table and create their strategy for black Friday shopping.

In recent years the internet entered the scene as the shoppers made their plans for black Friday referencing the difference in pricing online and those in the stores.  When there is less than a month and a list of gifts, all resources must be utilized.  But that is where the line should be drawn.

Last week several retailers announced that their black Friday deals would begin at 10 p.m. the night before.  The night before…that would be Thanksgiving night; grant it, shopping for Christmas can sometimes be hard to complete when it’s an important time to go to parties with friends and take the spiritual journey of the season, but is it necessary to squeeze out Thanksgiving Day?

Is it not worth a full 24 hours of life to slow down long enough to be thankful, stuff ourselves and enjoy time with family?  Now those 24 hours are being encroached on by retailers trying to create frenzy, and have their day in the media.

The family tradition at the beginning of the piece many times ends with family playing cards or watching a movie together, not charging the door of Wal-Mart to save little, and stand in line all night.  Where are our priorities?  Are they on the people we are shopping for and the important times we spend with them? Retailers would have you believe that to show your love to that special someone, you absolutely MUST leave them at the Thanksgiving table, and go buy them stuff.

If we are not careful, Thanksgiving Thursday is going to become, Gray Thursday – another historical holiday lost in commercialism.

Think about it.

All the best,

KK