For over the past 5+ years, the Mormon Third Eye editorial staff has been carefully scouring the globe, searching for that one business entity worthy of a little-known but highly-prized award, the MTE Preserving Tradition Award. To receive the award, a qualifying business must be able to clearly show that via a completely selfish act, they have accidentally preserved a noble tradition.
Finally, a deserving organization has been selected. The envelope please. Announcing: the first annual Preserving Tradition Award goes to… JC Penney!
Reference previous MTE posts associated with Black Friday to learn exactly what the MTE PTA committee was looking for in a winner. We’ve singled out JC Penney because, unlike other big box stores who buckled under merchandising pressure to open as early as 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving day, it was one of the few major retailers that elected to selfishly reward its own employees and uphold the longstanding Black Friday tradition by not opening until 6:00 am the following Friday morning.
I had followed Black Friday news during Thanksgiving week, and consciously decided to reward Penney by visiting their store early Friday morning. Their bold, gutsy move allowed me to wake up before the crack of dawn and drag two of my favorite nieces and nephews out to the Cool Springs Galleria in trendy Brentwood Tennessee. We experienced again the pageantry and excitement of waiting with other brave souls to invade a store for that next big doorbuster deal of the century. At exactly 5:40 am, a loose mass of carelessly loitering shoppers instinctively crowded in front of the grand glistening mall entrance window doors, like a herd of hungry sheep crowding around a feeding trough. At exactly 5:52 a brave JC Penney’ floor manager turned the key and opened the store for business. We politely but firmly pushed with the rest of the mass of rapidly moving humanity until we reached the target, the $8 small home appliance section, and snatched up two grills and a toaster oven.
It didn’t have to be small home appliances; we would have done the same for $8 Pikachu teeshirts or $5 watches. It was the opportunity to partake in a semi-sacred tradition, bond with complete strangers, and become a part of something bigger than ourselves. I enjoyed discussing important issues with my sister’s teenage son and daughter- being a hipster shopper, lunch at Chickees, and why WWII Japanese fighter pilots are missing their pinky fingers. We also regressed into wistful regrets and fears that this may be our last Black Friday bonanza- the latest news is that the Thanksgiving evening shopping experiment produced record profits for renegade retailers like Target and Walmart.
Anyway, no doubt some substantial changes will need to be made to ensure that anything resembling Black Friday and the traditions it accidentally inspired continues in future years. Would you wait in line and discuss world events with complete strangers for a .50 Big Mac, or a $50 root canal? I would. Hopefully the marketing masters of the merchandise universe of tomorrow will recognize that creating the perfect shopping experience includes catering to the wisdom of the very first crowdsourcing phenomena- the memories made via Black Friday shopping.