Black Friday madness — and my return to retail

It’s Thanksgiving Eve! A glorious day I sit in anticipation of a four-day weekend, lots of delicious food, time with my friends, family and boyfriend and the opportunity to… shop. This Friday is Black Friday!

Working around Black Friday at the bookstore, 2006!

Working around Black Friday at the bookstore, 2006!

After slaving away in crowded, congested stores since I was a freshman in college, Black Friday is typically a day I look forward to with a mixture of anticipation and fear. It’s a little fun, yes — being insanely busy with bustling people everywhere, the time filling itself without much help from you, selling tons of stuff and hopefully keeping your chain store afloat a little longer. I usually wear red and green, throw on a pretty bell necklace and maybe don a Santa hat (emblazoned with my name in glitter, of course).

Black Friday — so called because it’s the day merchants find themselves “back in the black,” i.e. out of the “red” or debt — has its origins, it seems, in Philadelphia in 1966: the day after Thanksgiving brought so many shoppers to the city and congested traffic so badly, police and locals likened it to the chaos of Black Tuesday, the day the stock market crashed in 1929. Retailers, cab drivers and others in the service industry thought only of the “headaches” Black Friday brought with it, not the potential sales and money-making opportunities.

According to trust Wikipedia, Black Friday is typically not the busiest shopping day of the year — that honor is typically bestowed upon the Saturday before Christmas. Makes sense. Lots of last-minute shoppers out there! Black Friday was the busiest shopping day of the year last holiday, though.

With the economy being what it is, I’m sure this year will be even crazier than usual. And though I left my part-time job at the bookstore in October, I did agree to come pitch in on Friday — I’m working 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the entire shank of the day. My dad, sister and I are planning on hitting Target, Kohl’s and Best Buy early before I have to meander over to grab a paycheck myself. I haven’t worked at the store in nearly a month, and I’m pretty nervous! It’s one thing to make your triumphant return, and it’s another entirely to make that return on Black Friday. We shall see.

But before I have to worry about working, I’ll be shopping!

Advertisements

end of a retail era

Last night was pretty monumental for me — after five years (and two at my bookstore), my career in retail is over. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would see this day . . . even after I graduated from college and took my editor position at the newspaper, I couldn’t give up my part-time stint at the store.

The time has come, though. My life is different, the store has evolved, so many co-workers have come and gone . . . after years of waving goodbye and throwing them parties and presenting cakes, it was my turn.

It was definitely an unassuming affair, though. Through all the turmoil, crazy customers, long hours and insanely busy events, my exit was devoid of fanfare. Times like that make you wonder why you really remained so loyal for so long . . . but I don’t want to reflect with bitterness on anything! I loved working at the bookstore, loved my friends and co-workers, and will sincerely miss helping (most) people who came in looking for a book to get them through a bad break-up, help with a school paper, shed some insight into a new faith or governmental practice or just lose themselves in a good story.

Obviously, I love words . . . reading them, writing them, reflecting on them. So I might not be practically living over at the store anymore, but my memories and love of books will stay with me forever.

Continue reading

Turning in the ‘mistress of ceremonies’ sash

I’m a drama queen. And no, not in the teenage-girl-eyeroll sort of drama queen way, where I’m constantly slamming doors and texting my friends in a huff because so-and-so didn’t include me in their plans to go to the mall this weekend.

I’m 23 years old, so that would be slightly more than ridiculous.

No, I’m a drama queen in the theatrical sense — I love performance, silliness and, yes, being the center of attention. Not all the time, of course, but most of the time.

I suppose this is exactly how I’ve come to be the resident “mistress of ceremonies” for all in-store events at my bookstore. To date, this has include the midnight releases of popular books Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Breaking Dawn and Brisingr, as well as a Holiday Open House, ceremony for the opening of our coffeeshop, Halloween storytime and an assortment of other smaller scale events.

And I’m always into these things! I was big into drama in high school but haven’t made time to get into theatre since then. My little crazy announcements and parties at the store are my only opportunity to be “dramatic” anymore.

And I usually dress up. Really dress up. Here’s me at the Harry Potter release in July 2007, just to give you an idea:

Yeah.

Continue reading

Excuse me — where do you keep your invisibility cloaks?

Perhaps Harry can spare his?

Perhaps Harry can spare his?

One of the craziest customers I’ve ever dealt with made her way over to my information counter at the bookstore last night. I have to point out that in addition to being crazy, she really did look crazy — she had the biggest hair you’ve ever seen. When she spent too long wandering around the store and we were trying to close down, my supervisor muttered she was going to “tear her wig off.” (!)

In no particular order, said Crazy Lady was looking for books on the following topics (and yes, I wrote them down at the info counter — there was no way I was going to forget any of this ridiculousness):
• ESP
• golden retrievers
• Princess Diana
• The Marine Corps
• Tammy Faye Bakker
• nuclear energy
• supernatural occurrences
• a world atlas
• coyotes
• metaphysical “gifts” — abilities
• The Kennedys
• a bible cover
• some famous artist I couldn’t pronounce

and . . . my favorite . . .
• INVISIBILITY

Invisibility! She wanted a book on INVISIBILITY! As in, to make one’s self invisible! She presented this question to one of my co-workers, not me . . . Because I probably would have had a hard time not suggesting the Harry Potter series. Harry has a mighty fine and useful invisibility cloak . . . Maybe she could get a few pointers on how to acquire one?

To be fair, she did purchase several of the books we found for her — which is a huge upgrade from the hour or so we can spend with a customer finding items, only to later come across the entire stack of them wedged behind a chair or piled up on a dirty cafe table. Joy of joys!