Friday, November 23, 2007

So long, Wolf U-Boat.

I'd like to have another widescreen TV. I want HDMI and 1080p for when I get a PlayStation 3. I love television, and I hate it when people say it's bad for you. My favorite Simpsons quote of all time is when Homer tells Bart, "C'mon son, let's go watch TV." Bart says, "What's on?" and Homer replies in that loving way he talks about donuts and pork chops, "It doesn't matter."

This year, I decided to check out the Black Friday specials to see if I could find a good deal. I subscribed to some mailing lists, and saw a couple of choice deals that were sold out before I got to them. Maybe they only had 1 or 2 at that price, or maybe they were just mirages.

I kept checking prices and found a good deal at Best Buy. I read up on how Black Friday works, and found that many "doorbuster" (I love that term) deals are "ticketed." Best Buy was straightforward about how this worked: At 3 a.m., they start handing out tickets to the line for things they have only 15 or 20 of at the store (opens at 5). As far as I could tell, the CyberShot that LWC wanted and the Hitachi 50-inch plasma TV that I wanted were not of the ticketed variety.

We've never tried to play the Black Friday Doorbuster game, so we said, what the hell, let's see how it works. We set the alarm for 4 a.m. and make our bleary-eyed way to Best Buy. I had a feeling that I usually get when I'm traveling and a couple time zones out of kilter. Your body says, "No! Wrong! More sleep!" and you say, "Shut the fuck up! I got things to do."

On the way, we notice that lots are full to bursting for Kohl's and Wal-Mart. You wonder how many people really show up at 5 a.m. to wait in line in 20-degree weather. Admittedly, the Denver folks are not daunted by weather like this, but still.

Arriving at Best Buy, we see a line of about 200 people and zero parking places. We park at a nearby recreational goods store. We're there at 20 till, and the wait doesn't seem too bad, since we're pretty much dressed for it.

Once we get inside, there are lots of handwritten signs for the real doorbuster deals. Boxed DVD sets for 50% off. A DVD player, a little LCD TV, a Canon digital camera. I pick up a 250GB external hard drive which sells for $129, pretty good price.

We wander through the departments, getting an equal amount of "Excuse me" and absolutely nothing as people barrel into us in too much of a hurry. I could tell you which people were the rudest, but that would sound like a racial slur so I won't.

We find some Best Buy employees and ask about our TV and camera. "All gone. Ticketed." Well crap, I didn't realize that. I figured we didn't have enough shopping moxie to get one of the rare ticketed items. We wander around some more, and finally decide to skip the insanely long lines for checkout and I put the hard drive on some shelf.

Then we got breakfast at Denny's. Then we went home. When I finish this post, I'm going back to bed. We didn't buy anything at Best Buy. How do I feel about this? Well, for those folks who got there at 3 a.m. to get a ticket for a Hitachi P50H401, I salute them. They are better shoppers than I, and they deserve their 50 inches of plasma delight. I found out that there is no free lunch. You either go all the way or you lose.

I am reminded of a favorite comic strip by Gahan Wilson that appeared in National Lampoon back when it was a magazine. A young boy wanted desperately to buy a "Wolf U-Boat" model kit. I don't remember the circumstances, but he never got it. The last panel shows the kid saying, "So long, Wolf U-Boat." In a thought bubble, the U-Boat is sailing away, and it says, "So long, kid."


Timmy said...

Here, to get those ticketed items at Best Buy, plan to be in line no later than 9am Thursday. After that you're so far back your chances are slim.

Jason said...

It's just as well you didn't get that TV, kid. You'd put your eye out.

Mkae said...

There's another aspect of Best Buy on Black Friday that you're probably not aware of. Items like your portable hard drive (being small) are often hidden by shoppers somewhere in the store. They then return later when the lines have died down and find their stuff.

On the other side of that coin, when you go there earlier, you can look to see what other people have hidden. That's where you'll find cool shit like cameras, DVD sets, etc.

I have done the Black Friday thing a couple of times. I've gotten some good deals but this year, it just wasn't worth getting up at the ass crack of dawn.

Shocho said...

The confusion on my part was that I thought the items we were trying to get were not ticketed items. But I should have realized that they were too good to be true in large quantities.

Later, we went to Target and bought the 42-inch Magnavox plasma TV I had my eye on for weeks. It's up and running and pretty damned awesome looking in HD for sports.

Anonymous said...

Actually, in the comic strip "the kid" did get the model Wolf U-Boat, but it was a piece of crap. It wasn't the model of his dreams - the one that says "so long, kid" in the final frame. Part of the comic series called "Nuts" that Gahan Wilson did in the early '70s.