Lessons learned: Bracing for Black Friday by remembering our past retailmistakes
Twas the night before Black Friday and all through the house, not a creature was stirring—not even my computer mouse.
Ah yes, one of the biggest shopping days is fast approaching. Get your game faces on—this is basically like the Superbowl of Shopping. In preparation, I’d like to relay a little story in hopes of setting some realistic expectations and preventing any potential heartbreak you might endure from disappointing sell-outs. Here goes…
Once upon a time, Target partnered up with legendary fashion design team Missoni. (Warning: this fairytale doesn’t have a happy ending, kids.) Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe the anticipation of this launch back in September of this year. I created an embarrassing amount of calendar reminders and cleared my work schedule for the morning of September 13th in an effort to maximize the chances of landing the essential pieces from the collection. Flipping through the online look-book previews gave me the same pit-in-stomach-feeling I endured minutes before high school cheerleading tryouts.
Having heard urban legends about the Target website crashing from previous designer collections (none of which as grandiose as Missoni, mind you) I had my game plan ready. Unsure whether the merchandise would go live at midnight EST, I set my alarm to go off every hour between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., hoping I could sneakily hop online and beat the traffic before the inevitable Target.com meltdown.
My plan worked: around 4 a.m. I was enjoying a cyber version of Supermarket Sweep and throwing anything and everything Missoni in my cart. I figured I could easily return whatever ended up looking heinous and preferred to err on the side of too much than not enough. But with my Type A-ness rearing its ugly head, I still had doubts about effectively capturing every key item from the expansive collection. Luckily, the next day, a fellow Missoni-ite and I catapulted out of bed like kids on Christmas morning and dashed to the nearest Target for the next challenge that awaited: the in-store extravaganza.
We proudly stood first in line for a solid hour before other anxious shoppers organized behind us. When the doors opened, I wasn’t nearly as panicked as the rest of the crowd, knowing I had just hit the online jackpot and would soon see a pile of brown boxes emblazoned with the red Target bullseye delivered at my door step. (Remember that Friends episode where Monica, Phoebe and Rachel go the wedding dress sample sale and end up fighting women and blowing whistles amid the utter chaos? Yep, the in-store scene was kind of like that, but less NBC and more Bravo—aka high drama sans laugh track.)
I walked out of the store with only a few bags—one of which containing a Missoni neck pillow—because I mean, who doesn’t need to look cute while awkwardly sleeping with her mouth wide open in the middle seat of an airplane?!
Fast-forward a few weeks and still no arrival of Target boxes. Patience never being one of my strong suits, I logged in to my order status hourly only to find everything still appearing to be A-OK and on-time. That is until, I got that dreaded email: “We’re sorry to inform you the items in your Target.com order are unable to be fulfilled.” A scream immediately erupted from me, reminiscent of Regina George in Mean Girls when she learns The Plastics called her a ‘fugly slut’ in the Burn Book. I couldn’t believe it—how did all my hard work and planning not result in a house full of colorful chevron stripes? This couldn’t be happening.
If you’ve ever flipped through TBS on a weekend, you’ve undoubtedly run into that movie Serendipity where John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale spend the entire 90 minutes scouring the Earth for a special copy of In The Time of Cholera and the five-dollar bill with red ink on it. Yeah, that’s now me in any Target store looking high and low on random shelves hoping to spot a lone towel, sweater or ballet flat.
Not to get all Disney on you, but the moral of this story in relation to Black Friday is to enjoy the adventure. Whether your quest involves apparel, electronics, toys or accessories—I say make a plan, execute and try to deal with any disappointments with a bit more grace than myself (and that fugly Mean Girl, Regina George).