The Blackest of Days, or How to Make Shopping Work for You

I act like I’m above all of you out there trampling each other today, screaming viciously at each other over the last $5 Barbie or $12 leopard print snuggie with bonus ear warmer, but you should know that I am aware that I’m just the same. Well maybe I’m slightly superior in that tomorrow I’ll be trampling people over used things, which of course relieves me of the added responsibility that all of those retail shoppers have today for their part in KILLING MOTHER EARTH. Tomorrow, all the toys I buy? Those parents already did the earth killing on the first go round at the cash register.

Where my sickness separates from the sickness of the Black Friday Plague is that I will stalk my bargain prey not for one day of the holiday season but for at least six.  For several weeks in a row every fall, I set my alarm for a ridiculously early hour on Saturday morning. I abstain from alcohol on Friday nights because this is serious business. I map out my route; I pre-game in the early morning with caffeine and starchy carbs. On the big weekends, when there are huge community yard sales in the rich neighborhoods, I team up and delegate responsibility: divide and conquer.  You see, on Super Saturday you only have a few hours to get in on the deals and then it’s over until next week. You have to get in, scan quickly, make your bid and get the hell out.  It’s on to the next thing. You might as well be sprinting to the next store in the mall.

It’s all over by noon.  The comedown is fierce.  If the haul was awesome; if the four (point five) hours weren’t spent driving around frenetically searching for just the right combination of affluence, brightly colored toys, and yard sale sign density, the high when I unload the car is intense. The afternoon hangover? Ouch.

Tomorrow will be no different, except that I’m breaking up the routine with a change of venue; tomorrow I venture into the hipster upper middle class neighborhoods of urban Jacksonville. This means a 45 minute bump on the alarm and a careful new route map, maybe even homemade coffee and breakfast to save drive through time.

The best part about my favorite shopping day of the year besides the excellent feeling of not buying retail is that I never step foot in a mall. For those several hours every year (OK, fine…every Saturday for several weeks every year) I essentially do all my shopping alone, at my pace, in outdoor markets under the lovely Florida sky.  I hope you all enjoy your shopping season as much as I enjoy mine.


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