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And They’re Off!


I’m not much of a shopper to begin with, so I try not to join the throngs of shoppers on “Black Friday.”

Sometimes, though, it can’t be avoided, like when you have house guests who think that our Circuit City is somehow going to offer something not offered 400 miles away at their own Circuit City.

Shopping out here in the Shenandoah Valley the day after Thanksgiving Day is not quite the inconsiderate mayhem of more urban areas, but we do have our share of carnage. Most of it, though, is confined to the parking lot. Our mall opens an auxiliary lot up a hill on a dirt road where in the summer the circus sets up. Then shoppers make the journey to the mall building like flocks of pilgrims. Or lemmings.

I try to avoid the larger venues and chains and focus on the family-owned stores where, usually, I can get personalized service before and after the sale. I realize this is a luxury because I can probably find the merchandise a whole lot cheaper elsewhere if I’m willing to receive a blank stare to any product question I may have and then stand in endless lines only to have the associate go on break.

I like the service of privately-owned stores and, having purchased “bargains” from the larger chains, suspect I’m getting a more durable product.

Besides, they always feed me. You can go from store to store drinking complimentary cidar and eating ginger cookies so that you never have to stop for lunch (not that being full ever stopped me from eating. . .).

Our nearest city is Winchester, Va., and they have, like so many other downtowns having to compete with strip malls and large chains, blocked off a main area for pedestrian traffic only, creating an outside pedestrian mall. There you can have the convenience of parking coupled with the advantage of smaller specialty shops that offer good service and, above all, politeness.

Even the customers perceive the rules are a little different here than in the frenzied Walmarts. We join in conversations, offer opinions, help with color choices, hold the door for each other. Some stores remember my name and even have records of sizes and purchase I’ve made in the past.

This is an invaluable resource for Dirtman, who needs to keep in his head the fact that I refuse to wear anything with a diamond in it, but love jade and pearls, and my favorite color is green but I also look good in peach. It’s too much for him to remember all that and still be a guy. It’s easier to just say, “Remember my wife? Give me something she wants.”

I, of course, have already scoped out the merchandise and they know precisely what I want. This way we don’t have a repeat of the power tool fiasco of ’98 (“I thought you said you wanted to build a doll house. . .”).

The only place to find what the Heirs want is through the internet. Oh, there are probably local stores that offer whatever it is, but nowhere I want to go or be seen going. And the internet offers the information about the item I, as their mother, need to know. Such as what, exactly, does this t-shirt logo mean and who, exactly, is this band whose name looks like a license plate.

At least I’m not alone. While the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally termed Black Friday, the Monday after is termed Cyber Monday, for the heaviest internet shopping day of the year.

So that’ll be me holding up your order going through on But at least I didn’t steal your parking spot.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 3:46 PM | Permalink

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