Black Friday Spenders: Wasting Away in Hamsterville

November 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Money and Behavior, Spending

I ignored Black Friday – and shopping altogether – this year. Instead, I enjoyed time with family. Mr. ToughMoneyLove shopped on Black Friday once. My oldest son and I decided a few years ago to snap up some needed tech bargains at Best Buy. We arrived early (but not before hundreds of others looking to score bigger deals), bought a few things on our list, went home, and fell back asleep by 7:00 AM. I won’t be doing that again anytime soon, if ever. It’s rare these days that I would want or need to buy something that would be deeply discounted on Black Friday.

After I completed my one and only Black Friday experience, I felt justified in mocking repeat Black Friday shoppers as ______ (fill in with your favorite remark about poor spending decisions). It’s not only that folks are manipulated into shopping under ridiculous conditions. It’s what they buy.

This year it was a robotic hamster.

Yes – you read that correctly. I learned that the number one moronic purchase for Black Friday 2009 appears to have been a battery-operated hamster. (Check out the dumb smiles on the three shoppers who waited in line five hours to round-up their hamsters.)

Real hamsters make awful pets under any circumstances. Why would you want to waste a holiday day off buying something that merely simulated a lousy pet? Maybe it’s the magical name “Zhu Zhu.”

I’m afraid the answer lies in the under-performing minds of many American consumers. They don’t need a good reason to buy anything. The only reasons they need are (a) the knowledge that others are buying it and (b) the fear that there won’t be enough to go around. This year that knowledge caused robotic consumers to program themselves to seek out robotic hamsters and their accessories.

And what will become of these goofy purchases? They will join the great junkpile of Cabbage Patch Dolls, Beanie Babies, and other fad toys. In between will be the inflated buying and selling on eBay and Craigslist. You know the drill. Many of today’s recipients of fad toys will grow up to be fad toy buyers. The great cycle of mindless spending will be complete, passed down to the next generation.

I suppose that at some level, many fad product buyers understand they are wasting money on junk. But that doesn’t stop them from joining in the shopping frenzy when Black Friday rolls around. At that point, the short-lived thrill of the hunt overwhelms common sense. A few clever shoppers hope to make money on resales to late sleepers. I can’t blame them for exploiting the others.

Today is Cyber-Monday. If this alternative retailer contrivance doesn’t succeed in using up credit card space on the last of the robotic shoppers, another special “shopping day” will be created, perhaps “Desperate Wednesday.” Unfortunately, all of the robotic hamsters will have been sold out. The only thing left on the shelves will be robotic hamster turds. Only disfavored nieces and nephews will receive those as gifts.

Robotic sheep anyone?

Feed Mr. ToughMoneyLove

FREE UPDATES: If you enjoyed this, please subscribe to receive the newest hard truth from Mr. ToughMoneyLove automatically by RSS feed (what is RSS?) or by spam-free Email.

  • Banner


7 Responses to “Black Friday Spenders: Wasting Away in Hamsterville”
  1. PW says:

    We were away in a small cottage in the woods for hiking,for the holiday. We don’t have cable at home but in the eve around 9:00pm we accessed the free cable to check weather. We rarely watch TV at home. I was in awe of the news stories of all the people lined up in tents, sleeping bags on Thanksgiving afternoon/evening to buy things, they mentioned computers,games,the hamsters,and on and on. Looking at them, they looked like they wouldn’t know what a savings account was. We thought”these are the people that we will be supporting” when they loose a job, can’t afford housing, etc. OK, guess that was important to them. We did wander to a new uncrowded Wal Mart out in woods, around 10:30 pm to get my husband his much wanted Tom Tom on sale for $89.00-got it there to save the huge taxes in our big city area. Saved us about $10 in taxes. Didn’t eat out while gone, brought our own food,didn’t shop in any of the glitzy stores. Thank you for making us think economically.

  2. Bucksome says:

    Not everyone that shops on Black Friday pays with credit cards or buys unneeded items. We needed a new set of bed sheets due to our dog thinking he can bury bones in our bed.

    Several stores had high thread count sheet sets 50% off or more as early bird specials. That’s the only item we bought; something we needed and within our budget.

  3. MasterPo says:

    I did the Black Friday thing a few years ago. Also at Best Buy for some minor stuff. Prices were good but nothing I couldn’t really live without. Won’t be doing that again.

    Not spending much this season anyway.

  4. Writers Coin says:

    Spot on with your A/B on the terrible reasons people buy anything these days. I was out there myself but mostly watched other people as they scooped up stuff they knew they didn’t need, they just thought was too good to pass up.

    Bucksome does have a point though: if you are going to buy certain stuff anyway, there are good deals to be had.

  5. No Debt Plan says:

    I completely agree (and wrote a post about how some of those deals aren’t really deals in the first place).

    I was stunned to hear that everyone just “had to have” these stupid little hamster toys. You’ve got to be kidding me. Americans seem to lack an understanding of the value of their time. I would much rather get a good night’s rest and save myself 5+ hours in the freezing cold by purchasing the item online for a similar price.

    Saving $50 for 5 hours = $10/hr worth of savings. That’s not worth it — especially on a holiday with family. Crazy stuff.

  6. kitty says:

    Personally, I’d take a live kitten over a robotic hamster any day, but in the long run I guess robotic hamster is much cheaper….

    I’ve never shopped on Black Friday; I’ve only learned about the concept of “Black Friday” last year. Before that I thought it was just a day after the holiday with some sales, but I hadn’t known that one needed to get up early to get some of the best deals or whatever. So I supposed I might’ve gone into stores on Friday after Thanksgiving some time in the past during the normal day time without ever knowing of some great steals one could’ve gotten in the early morning… Normally, though I waited till Christmas or after New Year for holidays. I guess I missed some great deals. Or maybe not.

    There was an article last week on yahoo finance about some of the deceptive marketing that goes on on Black Friday. For example, they would announce a great deal, but if you read the fine print you’d find out that they may only have 3 items at the price. Or this one TV sold at a discount may have a slightly different model number than the full price TV and be lacking some features.

    This time around, I just really didn’t have time. No time or energy. I do need a refrigerator, but I am waiting for the government rebate. It’ll be a pity if I could get some for less than what the price would be with a rebate, but then my guess it the stores would do something to attract people during the rebate time as well.

  7. Rick Beagle says:

    I was a youth when the Pet Rock was the fad, and even at that tender age, I realized there was some truth to the adage, a fool and his money are soon parted. Black Friday… lol, who would want to shop on that day?

Speak Your Mind

Please leave a comment and tell us your version of the hard truth...

You must be logged in to post a comment.