Black Friday Spenders: Wasting Away in Hamsterville
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.
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?