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Start the Presses: Stop and smell the turkey

November 30, 2013|By Dan Evans, dan.evans@latimes.com

Here's the scene: I'm sitting at the breakfast bar in a condominium rental a few blocks away from the University of Washington, watching the famously gloomy Seattle skies get grayer and grayer. I have to write a column, and I have no idea what in the world to write about.

Suddenly, my mother-in-law, Peggy, muses from the couch:

"The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, the following Monday is Cyber Monday, so what do they call the shopping day on Thanksgiving? Greed?"

There we go. Greed Thursday.

The Kmart in Burbank opened at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Macy's, Target and JCPenney at the Glendale Galleria threw open their doors at 8 p.m. that night, and people started lining up outside the Urban Outfitters at the Americana at 9:30 p.m. That store, which tempted shoppers with half-off prices, didn't even open until midnight, along with dozens of other mall stores.

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Reporter Alene Tchekmedyian staked out the early morning shoppers, many of whom had conflicting views about the early-morning and Thanksgiving day hours. Some said the late hours allow time for shopping and family. Others said Black Friday shopping is a tradition, even if they decline to purchase anything, and still another said the early hours essentially eliminated the holiday meal, as half of her family had to show up for work.

Personally, I've never understood the inclination of so many to rise in the predawn hours to join the crush of shoppers vying for that 40% discount on a plasma television. First, I loathe the mornings. One of the reasons I became a journalist is because many, if not most, reporting jobs start after 9 a.m. (I often presumed that was because we needed to allow newsmakers a couple hours to actually do something prior to bugging them for a quote.)

Second, crowds just aren't my thing. I've never shied away from seeing a band I loved because of crowds, but waiting in a long line for an overpriced cocktail in a sardine-parked bar — with no music — struck me as the zenith of stupidity even in my mid-20s. Risking assault because you wrestled the last Tickle-Me-Elmo away from a helicopter mom at Walmart at 6 a.m., similarly, seems like madness.

All this goes to say that I am a bit biased against Black Friday shopping. Or, at the least, I don't understand the powerful hold it has on so many.

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