Bargain shopping on Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving earned its nickname from the huge profits companies pull in thanks to ambitious shoppers.

Elena Rozwadowski

The turkey was packed away in Tupperware. The gravy started to congeal in the refrigerator, and someone ate the last piece of pumpkin pie.

But Thanksgiving wasn’t over yet.

Each year, millions of Americans leave their leftovers behind for a long day of bargain hunting, many getting to stores as early as midnight to participate in a holiday tradition known as Black Friday.

And with all of the free goodies and deep discounts for the early birds, the day after Thanksgiving can be a great time for college students and others on a tight budget to do their shopping.

This year’s Black Friday (the name comes from the high profits companies pull in) was predicted to be the biggest in history. This year, $8.96 billion was spent Nov. 24, according to ShopperTrack RCT Corporation, a company that tracks retail sales in the United States.

That number is up 6 percent from last year. Official numbers will be released this week.

But bargain hunters sometimes pay a price for Black Friday deals. Lines are long, tempers are high and supplies are limited.

University animal science junior Michelle Burge said she has worked on Black Friday at Aeropostale in Ridgedale Center for the last four years.

“It’s an organized chaos,” Burge said. “People seem to know what they’re looking for, so as long as you can tell them what the deals are, things are fine.”

Although she never saw anything crazy happen in the store, Burge said her boss witnessed girls fighting over fitting rooms and pulling out each other’s hair, which had to be swept up later.

“The worst thing that’s happened here is that people have just gotten mad and walked away,” she said. “People here tend to be pretty nice about things.”

Despite the chaotic atmosphere, some college students battle the crowds to get the good deals.

University student Sarah Larson went Black Friday shopping for the first time this year at Ridgedale.

She decided to go because of the deals she saw advertised in the paper last week.

“I didn’t want to go at 5 a.m. with all of the really crazy Black Friday shoppers,” Larson said. So she said she went around 10 a.m.

Larson also went to Best Buy and Target, citing bargains like $3 movies and $200 laptops. She said the stores in the mall were probably the most crowded, but overall, things weren’t too bad.

While the deals were good, students don’t necessarily have to go shopping on Black Friday to save, Larson said.

“It seems like now they have the deals going through the weekend,” she said. “But it’s still a good way for people to save money.”

University of St. Thomas sophomore Michelle McCumber was also a first-time Black Friday shopper this year. She went to the Mall of America with her younger sister early Friday morning.

“This definitely isn’t my normal routine,” McCumber said. “But there are a lot of good deals, so it was worth it.”

There are also those who refuse to participate in Black Friday and who renamed it “Buy Nothing Day.” Web sites like promote the idea of “participating by not participating,” while they raise awareness about other causes like global warming.

But there are those who just can’t give up the deals, like Concordia University student Emily Rahn, who was at the Mall of America by 6 a.m. Friday.

“I like it because of all of the free stuff, even free food,” Rahn said. “You can graze on the mall all day and never have to buy a meal.”

She said she thinks the combination of the bargains and giveaways make early-morning Black Friday shopping perfect for college students.

“I do it because I’m cheap,” she said.