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Happy Black Friday?

Sometimes I wonder if we are taking Thursday off to celebrate Thanksgiving or the beginning of Christmas Shopping.

It seems that there is more talk about Black Friday in the news than the turkey celebrations on Thursday. In fact, the only time I see the word “Thanksgiving” is when they announce another store like K-Mart planning to be open that day.

Has it come to be that the thing for which we are most thankful is getting up at 3am to grab a doorbuster special?

I hate to be the mythbuster, but I’m going to let you in on some little retail secrets. My fellow retailers might not be happy that I’m sharing these. They might blackball me like those magicians that gave away their secrets on Fox TV. But here it goes…

Black Friday Myth #1: These are the best deals you will see this shopping season. Reality: Yes, there are some big bargains, but most of those were carefully orchestrated to make you think you are getting a bigger deal than you actually are. These “deals” are planned months in advance. The true deals are the “panic deals” that happen when stores panic because sales aren’t as strong as they hoped. Usually these start the week before Christmas. This year, they’ll start as early as December 1.

Black Friday Myth #2: This is the busiest day of the year. Reality: Although it is a busy shopping day, the two Saturdays before Christmas always outpace Black Friday in terms of actual dollars being spent. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the procrastinators.

Black Friday Myth #3: This is the day that all retailers get back to profitability. Reality: Some retailers won’t ever get back to being profitable this year. And with the price-slashing we are seeing, there may be some serious casualties after the dust settles. It’s hard to make a profit when you give everything away below cost.

Black Friday Myth #4: The earlier a business opens, the more business it will do. Reality: Where you shop has less to do with the hours, than with the products. If Kohl’s doesn’t have what you want, you won’t be there at midnight. This whole notion that K-Mart by being open Thursday, or some of the stores opening at 3am or even midnight will gain some big advantage over the competition is ridiculous. The stores that will have the best Black Fridays will be the stores with the best products, services and values. And service is hard to do when the staff is tired and grumpy at missing out on their own Thanksgiving festivities. Ever wonder why the stores that open the earliest have the highest staff turnover rate? I love my staff way too much to ever do something like that to them. We’ll open at our regular hours and do plenty of business without any gimmicks or stunts, just smart products, good values, and great service.

Speaking of early hours…

Black Friday Myth #5: The early hours are always worth it. Reality: If you like waiting in long lines, fighting huge crowds, getting pushed and shoved only to be one person too late to get the item you wanted, then more power to you. I like to calculate the cost of my time versus the price of an item.

I hope I haven’t burst anyone’s bubbles. It’s not like I’m trying to convince you that Santa Claus isn’t real. (He is real. Want proof ? Click here!) Despite what I have said above, I love Black Friday. It is a fun day filled with wonderful customers and experiences and, oh yeah, a whole lot of business. But there is so much more for which we should be thankful.

So as I tuck in for the night this Thanksgiving day, I will tip my hat to those of you who plan to confront the cold, blustery pre-dawn darkness to fight the coffee-starved crowds for deals, contrived or otherwise. Many of you brave soldiers tell me that it is the thrill of the conquest that drags you out of bed while others slumber peacefully. To you, I say go forth and conquer.

My staff and I will be well-rested and waiting here at the Toy House at 9:30am with a fresh pot of coffee brewing just for you.

Happy Black Friday and Thanksgiving, too!


Strummin’ My 6-String
It was my favorite Christmas present of all time. I still have it. And I knew I was getting it all along.

December, 1985. My sister and I were both in college. She wanted a stereo for Christmas and Mom and Dad had no clue what to buy her. So they called me in for advice. And since I knew what Mom and Dad were spending on her, they turned to me and said, “What do you want?”

No hesitation. A guitar. Six shimmering strings, a shiny wood top, and a black case. I was gonna be a star.

I always had a fascination with guitars. In fact, I even tried to build one out of an old sheet of particle board. I measured it, drew it out on the board and began cutting. At eleven I just figured that once I cut out the body I could attach some strings and be good to go. Without a jigsaw, though, I never got very far. I think that board with the drawings and a few misplaced saw cuts still sits somewhere in my parents’ basement.

But then I started working summers at YMCA Storer Camps in Napoleon. Although I never saw it, there must be somewhere on the application where you check off “guitar player”. Almost everyone there knew how to play guitar… except me.

I wanted a guitar. And now I had one. Mom and Dad went to Playford Music and got a perfect starter guitar, an Eterna by Yamaha with a really high action that tore through my fingertips in record time while I adjusted to this new skill.

My college roommate was not nearly as excited as I was about my new guitar. With each new chord I tried to teach to my fingers, Kraig found renewed motivation to go the library to study. And even then, by the following summer I could barely play 3 chords.

Then I met Tim. Dr. Timothy Murnen, PhD, now a professor at Bowling Green, was just a summer camp counselor like me, with long hair, a love for the outdoors, and an ability to relate to kids. And just like me, he had a guitar. But he was doing something I had not even considered. Tim was writing his own songs. Songs I’ve never forgotten like “Broken Strings” – The day is long and your feet move on/And you’re never really ever gonna change your song/Broken hearts and broken dreams/You just got to live with your broken strings.

Man, I was blown away. Now I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my guitar. Write my own music. And I did.

Over the next few years I wrote 40 or 50 songs, although I use that word loosely. With maybe two or three exceptions, none of that early work was approved for human consumption. But when I joined a contemporary Christian music group at the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson in ’93 I found a whole new outlet for my writing. Another 40 to 50 songs later I have a few more edible tunes.

Are you ready to hear them?

Yes, I’m going public. I’m going on the stage live at Nomad Bookhouse on Friday, August 29th at 7pm with my guitar, harmonicas and maybe a friend or two.

Some people ask what style of music I play. Is “Campfire” a style? You can call it folk, country, old time rock n roll, blues, Christian, or whatever you want. I promise that there will be songs to make you laugh, songs to make you think, songs to make you tap your toes, and songs to make you want to sing along. And when I hit the wrong note or two along the way maybe even a song to make you cry. I’m going to play a mix of Christian and secular originals with a few covers thrown in for good measure.

Will you dare to join me?

See you Friday, August 29th 7pm at Nomad!

Happy Strumming!

Phil Wrzesinski

PS I’ve told you my favorite present. Now I want hear about yours. Tell me the story behind your favorite gift and if I get enough responses I’ll put them in an upcoming forum.