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Capitalism’s Grossest Win: The Final Triumph of Black Friday

From Plymouth Rock to Thanksgiving at Best Buy: The Puritan ethic went spectacularly astray, all for an iPad mini.

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“Being first in line ensures me I will get what I want,” said Wagner. Her door-busting dream: a camera for her mother, a laptop for her brother, and a flat-screen TV and some Dr. Dre headphones for herself.

I’m sure I wouldn’t mind a pair of Dr. Dre headphones under my own Christmas tree, but I don’t think taking a week off from your job to stand in line to nab a deal on some stylin’ audio equipment is an example of either thrift or frugality. Let’s not even get into the data that suggest that  Black Friday’s pricesaren’t invariably the lowest available, that the whole thing is just one magnificent con job. Whether or not Wagner gets what she wants, there’s no escaping the grim reality of that can of Pringles and Turkey Roost hot meal.

It’s convenient to criticize the retailers for their encroachment on turkey time and their shameless stoking of greed and bad mob behavior. But the Best Buys of the world wouldn’t be swinging their gates wide open if customers didn’t keep clamoring to get in. We’re locked in a mutual embrace and neither side is willing to let go.

Next year, look for Best Buy to begin delivering turkey dinners directly to the waiting shoppers. Indeed, I’m surprised it hasn’t already seen the market opportunity. Who needs a mom to bring over the mashed potatoes, when the market is more than ready to provide?


Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. Follow him on Twitter: @koxinga21

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