Unlike last year's Black Friday where I had the deliberate goal of getting LEGO Rock Band for free (and I did), this year has been more of a casual affair. I'm not chasing any super-amazing deals, just looking out for the usual random half-off pricing.
Thurs. 11/25/10 4:40pm - Planning a Toys R Us run late tonight because you can get a foursquare badge. :\
And, you know, a surprise foursquare badge. Toys R Us also had a thing where the first 3000 people to text something to somewhere after 9:30pm would get a coupon for 15% off of $150. Which is about the same as saving nothing on spending a ton, so screw that.
The real stickler here was that Toys R Us started their Black Friday panic way early, opening at 10pm. This encouraged far more people to come out for it.
When I arrived, around 9:45pm, that was the scene. A line wrapped throughout the parking lot, with two local news crews setting up their live shots. The official opening of 10pm was tailor made for cheap news coverage, good job TRU marketers.
Thurs. 11/25/10 9:46pm - This is not great weather for overnight Black Friday shopping.
No longer raining, but damp and chilly. Could have been worse.
Here's the overhead view of the line when I queued up:
I'm using the old-style R star because this TRU has yet to update its signage to the current logo.
Upon launching foursquare, I noticed that the store has finally created its own location checkin point. I've been the mayor of the unofficial version for weeks. The official version includes the " surrounding the R in the name, which is sort of dumb. There were three other people checked in to the unofficial entry; none on the official listing... which is the one that you needed to get the TRU Black Friday 2010 badge.
Thurs. 11/25/10 9:57pm - An insane line at TRU. I've been through the ads; I do not know what deals these people are after.
I walked all the way around the line before joining in, because I wanted to see what kind of people were out. Plenty of eager people, plenty of sullen people. Not a lot of kids.
The northwest side of the building is an area to watch. That's a single-lane passage, and as I walked through it, two cars came at each other head on. The crowd had to move around to let the cars squeeze through, because neither vehicle was about to back up. This situation occurred many more times over the wait.
An employee was patrolling the line reciting the console bundles currently available.
Thurs. 11/25/10 9:57pm - A DSi bundle? Don't even bother, the 3DS is out in March.
Thurs. 11/25/10 9:59pm - I guess three Zhu Zhu Pets for $10 is pretty sweet.
That was one of the doorbuster deals. Those things are normally around $10 each. We already have two, so I did not feel like we had to increase our Zhu Zhu population by three.
Thurs. 11/25/10 10:01pm - One of these years I will dress appropriately for this.
This time I remembered to wear gloves. Still cold. I hate to wear a sweater or something thick like that, because when you do get inside, then you're dying of heat.
Thurs. 11/25/10 10:03pm - I suppose I'm sort of a jerk for gumming up the line when I'm not even chasing anything in particular.
Thurs. 11/25/10 10:16pm - I'd like to send a shoutout to all my homies in line at Old Navy for a free 360 game.
Hope it worked out for you guys. Old Navy probably had, what, ten copies of Dance Central on hand?
Thurs. 11/25/10 10:26pm - Just passed a retail employee. I kicked him in the nuts until his nose bled and put out my cigarette in his eye.
That one was in response to a Facebook pal's status update where he raged against Black Friday shoppers from his perspective as a retail employee. You can tell I'm not sympathetic. Hey guess what, everybody's job sucks and has shitty days.
Thurs. 11/25/10 10:31pm - This is the longest line I've been in that didn't involve cosplayers. #blackfriday
The doors opened at 10pm, remember. By this point, I was nearing the easternmost edge of the building. The temperature was making iPhone usage quite difficult.
It took another half an hour to get to that single-lane alleyway. Lots of people bailed out as we approached the 11pm mark.
Thurs. 11/25/10 10:54pm - The traffic situation in this single lane alleyway is pretty hilarious.
The line got to witness several more vehicular standoffs in this region. Also note the row of parking. That zone was packed with the cars of people who were already in and out of the store... and now they waited to go home. One SUV backed out wide enough to crush the linestanders had they not moved. Watching from a distance, I could tell that the line felt the SUV had enough space to swing around and exit, but the driver clearly thought otherwise. She kept backing up.
Then we had another driver who backed up - quite nicely - but had to pull back into her space because there was oncoming traffic. She obviously forgot she had the car in drive, because after the other car had cleared, she banged her front end right into the concrete barrier. The crowd went nuts with laughter, proving how human beings are basically hateful, malicious creatures.
The general noise level and attitude of the louder patrons would have triggered me to label them as drunks, if we weren't all standing in line to buy toys. See also:
Thurs. 11/25/10 11:16pm - Public peeing has occurred. (Not me.)
There's a grassy area above the parking row. This became the designated peeing place. It's right beside a major PA Route, by the way.
Thurs. 11/25/10 11:41pm - Finally standing on sidewalk.
Thurs. 11/25/10 11:42pm - We're on rolling access, 50 people at a time.
Two hours to make it around to the western tip, to the storefront sidewalk. By this point, EVERYBODY in line has their own wackjob theories about how this could be run better. The security team is marking off every 50 people with balloons, and then letting each group in at roughly 10-15 minute intervals. This means the line stays frozen for long periods of time rather then constantly inching forward like a DisneyWorld dark ride.
My group was ushered inside at the stroke of midnight. If the system was consistent enough for the math to work out, that would mean roughly 600 people were in line in front of me.
Fri. 11/26/10 12:01am - Inside. Store feels weirdly empty. Most people are in checkout line.
Here's the good side of the tightly controlled exterior wait: the store inside was not crowded at all. Shoppers could easily navigate the entire place, even with carts. I was in aisles that were devoid of people entirely, which is a nice change from the usual Black Friday experience.
Complicated arrows and markings were formed on the floor with blue painter's tape, indicating paths for checkout line waits. The worst lineup was over in the video game section. TRU ran out of console bundles before I even entered the store, and the game sales were not great. They had a buy one game, get second game for $5, but it was only applied to a very short list of games... only one of which I would even consider (Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions). I suppose I could have picked up Gran Turismo 5 - it came with a free $20 gift card - if I had any interest in Gran Turismo. But even that one was not on the deal list.
Fri. 11/26/10 12:18am - Toys R Us has "Brian's Song" DVD on sale. YES.
Didn't get it. Just about everything I did pick up was on a 50% discount or more. And I got the free crayons.
Fri. 11/26/10 12:34am - Exited TRU. Actually got some deals, but nothing major. Impulse shopped a Sing-a-ma-jig, which I will regret tomorrow.
Yeah, why did I do that? The Sing-a-ma-jig was the one item I bought that was no deal at all.
Fri. 11/26/10 12:37am - Going home for bathroom; will consider heading back out for Target.
Last year, I was able to string a combo from Old Navy to Toys R Us to Target. The early opening for TRU this year really jerked that up... because Target did not open until 4am. Not feeling like sitting in a car or waiting in line for four hours, I headed home.
Fri. 11/26/10 1:09am - 1am and I'm into the feast leftovers already. Refueling. And watching Boosh.
I put together a tofurky cheese bagel sandwich and watched an episode of Mighty Boosh on the iPad. Then I passed out. The whole going home thing ensured I lost my energy level and did not make it back out to hit Target.