Black Friday All Week Long

Do you remember when you’d never hear Christmas music in stores until the day after Thanksgiving? Now you can’t even shop for Halloween decorations without tripping over Christmas trees and tinsel. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that in a country so invested in the capitalist dream, we find ways to extend the spirit of shopping as far as possible. Why, take Black Friday for instance. It use to be actually on – shocker – Friday. Now it starts Thanksgiving night. Or worse, it goes all week. Especially for online retailers. Where is the tradition of getting up before the crack of dawn on Friday morning and standing in line in the freezing cold waiting for a store to open? Come on, people. This is tradition! Well . . . okay . . . not for me. Never has been.

My idea of a good Black Friday, is keeping my eyes shut and sleeping in with my husband. Then lazing around the house all day, eating leftover turkey, playing games with the kids, and yes, probably watching some football. The important thing for me is avoiding the retail craziness at all cost.

For a day that has become famous for spurring the economy, I found it rather ironic that the first Black Friday became famous for crashing it.

During reconstruction, following the Civil War, the nation’s economy was at a devastating low point. In order to stimulate economic growth, President Grant made an effort to reduce the supply of paper money orΒ greenbacks by offering to buy them from citizens at a discount and replacing them with currency backed by gold.

However, in 1869 a pair of shady financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, came up with a scheme to profit from the government’s plan by cornering the gold market. If they could convince Grant not to sell gold to the public, they themselves could buy it up in large quantities and watch the price soar. Then, when it peaked, they would sell out and make a fortune. But how were they to influence President Grant?

Gould and Fisk recruited Abel Corbin, a financier who just happened to be married to Grant’s sister, Virginia. Corbin arranged invitations to social engagements for Gould and Fisk where the two used their charm and persuasion to argue against the government sale of gold, bending Grant’s ear. Grant wasn’t swayed, but he did allow Corbin to convince him to appoint General Daniel Butterfield assistant treasurer of the United States. Part of Butterfield’s job was to handle government gold sales on Wall Street. In return for a piece of the action, Butterfield agreed to inform Gould and Fisk when the government was ready to sell gold.

Pandemonium in the New York Gold Room

Grant eventually became suspicious of his brother-in-law’s sudden interest in the gold market, and when he found a letter between his wife and sister regarding the same matter, he recognized the scheme for what it was. Sensing the danger, Gould, Fisk, and Corbin began buying up as much gold as they could on September 20. The price rose to as high as $162 per ounce, a price that would not be reached again for 100 years. However, on September 24, Grant ordered the immediate sale of $4,000,000 worth of government gold. Within minutes, prices plummeted. Investors scrambled. Panic set in. Many investors had taken out loans to buy their gold and when the price dropped, they were ruined, Abel Corbin among them.

Gould escaped relatively unscathed, by selling his gold before the market began to fall. Daniel Butterfield was removed from his post after a congressional hearing. Bad luck and continued scheming caught up to Fisk a few years later. In 1872, fellow financier, Edward Stokes, shot him dead after arguments over money and the affections of a show girl named Josie Mansfield. Has all the makings of a western showdown, doesn’t it?

  • So, are you a Black Friday shopper, or do you prefer to hide away at home and avoid the crowds?

 

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Karen Witemeyer
For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

31 Comments

  1. I could write an entire post on how things use to be. Years ago I worked for Kmart in the office. We always had a crew come in overnight on Wednesday before Thanksgiving and they set the store for Christmas. They decorated and built the toy department up, etc. When we came in on Friday morning (yes, the store closed on Thanksgiving Thursday) it was MAGICAL! Christmas decorations and music and everyone became more cheerful with an extra bounce in their step. Nowadays, the magic has been tainted a little because of the over commercialism.

    Too bad we can’t all look at the season for the true reason of celebrating the birth of Jesus.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    1. Hi, Cindy. That does sound magical. One day a regular store, the next a Christmas wonderland. I love transformations like that. πŸ™‚

  2. I’m with you, Karen! I have never gone Black Friday shopping and never plan to. Plus this Black Friday is my dad’s birthday and he’ll actually be home all day.

    1. Have a wonderful birthday day with your dad. Much better than dealing with the craziness of shopping.

  3. I usually don’t really go I wait until Friday morning and then go to a couple places, there is usually not anything that great to have to fight people for it. And I don’t want to wait in any line for anything it is not worth it. Material world is what it seems like everyone has become. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I am very thankful for several things.

    1. I agree – we need to focus on things were are thankful for during this time – especially family.

  4. I have never gotten up early to go shopping. I may have gone later in the day. There is nothing I need that bad to get out of bed early in the morning for. It seems it’s usually toys or electronics and I am not interested in either. My husband has to work this Friday. His company decided to take away all long holiday weekends this year. He works 6 days a week and only gets Sundays off. I’ll probably just do some good house cleaning this Friday.

    1. House cleaning?!!! Ha! That would never even enter my mind. πŸ™‚ I did my house cleaning yesterday in anticipation of company. I won’t be ready to even think about repeating the experience for quite some time. Bummer that your hubby has to work, though. But I guess in this economy, we can give thanks that he still has a job.

  5. I don’t get up early to go shopping but I might go after breakfast if there is something I really NEED that is in the flyers. I enjoy the day after as just enjoying any family that is visiting πŸ™‚

    1. Sounds very reasonable, Deanna. Balance in all things – that’s my motto. πŸ™‚

  6. I’m with you, Karen. Nothing would make me stand in line on Friday. Actually Black Friday was once known as Red Friday in the Old West. That was the day that disgruntled housewives returned “foul-smelling” turkeys to the stores. Before refrigeration shopkeepers hung turkeys in the windows and, well, you get the idea. I think I would have skipped Red Friday, too.

    Happy Thanksgiving

    1. Ewww – I hadn’t heard of Red Friday, Margaret. I guess these turkeys were not yet cooked? Or did they try to cook them for Thanksgiving then realized they were bad? I would be disgruntled, too.

  7. I’d wondered why any store would want to be open on Thanksgiving, even if they can get a jump on Black Friday. Thanks to a job in the mall, I learned (at our mall, at least), any store that is not open during the required Thanksgiving hours is fined $100 an hour that they’re closed. Who fines them? The mysterious entity known as The Mall. So now we’ve got Black Friday and Blackmail Thursday.

    1. Blackmail Thursday – What a great descriptor! And how sad that there is a penalty for allowing your employees to have a day off with their families.

  8. I definitely dislike the Christmas before Thanksgiving hype. Let us enjoy each season as it is. There is plenty of time to buy stuff before the next one. I don’t need a prolonged season. Nothing could make me do the Black Friday morning shopping. I will find a sale at another time. To me it is the epitome of NON-Christmas spirit. All I have ever heard of are the fights and horrible things that go on. I’ll be sleeping in!!

    1. I’m with you, Susan. I can’t imagine fighting over things. You’re right, very NON-Christmas spirit.

  9. I try to do most of my shopping online… I do not like all of the craziness and crowds of Black Friday! Only buying this at this hour or standing on line forever for another item… This year, I actually have about 95% of my shopping done already! Yeah me! πŸ™‚

    1. Awesome, Colleen! I’ve transitioned to more online buying, too. It’s much less stressful. I do get out with coupons and special sales from time to time, but I like the quietness of shopping alone with my computer. πŸ™‚

  10. Never go out but sometimes go online and buy some books as a Christmas gift to self that week though.

    1. Yay! Another book giver. I can’t go through a Christmas season without buying tons of books as gifts. Thankfully, most of my family and friends like to read. πŸ™‚

  11. I am a black shopper addict was worse when my kids were small,I had to get those bargains,,id strap on my fanny pack(kept my arms free)I never took the kids with me,my mom usually went with me,,and we would have blast,I had a battle plan of action and we would follow thru and then hit the next store on our list,,but as I am now a grandma,,I don’t stand as well as I used too and ppl just aren’t nice when they get in crowds,,use to be they were but not anymore,I am going tomorrow night,only because we are older an on a limited budget and I have 13 grandkids to buy for,but I do that all year long so im only going for a couple of things and im going to go sit down drink some coffee and then check out after the rush is over,,my husband works at walmart and he has to work from 5 pm to 2 am on Thanksgiving,,,that stinks,,I liked it better when they were closed on Thanksgiving and black Friday was on friday

  12. A seasoned shopper – Vickie. Excellent! It sounds like you really know how to work the system. πŸ™‚ It’s a bummer your hubby has to work the graveyard shift at WalMart. For his sake, I wish we’d return to the “good old days.”

  13. I’m not a shopper any day, so I avoid all the Black Friday hassle. In my town we have a Christmas Stroll on Friday night. The Main Street stores (small independent businesses) stay open late, so there is some shopping, but there are also hayrides and trolley rides and hot chocolate and chili. It’s a fun night.

    1. That sounds lovely, Kirsten!

  14. I am with you one the black Friday deals. Never have been and to be honest I think they mark things up about 50% then knock it back down 25% and call it a sale. The week before Halloween at Walmart they took the Halloween candy out of the candy ile and had the Christmas candy out. Now tell me that makes since when Halloween is all about the candy. I am not much of a shopper so I stay out of the stores on Black Friday.

    1. Some store are certainly more reliable than others, Quilt Lady. And you are right about the candy. We seem to jump from Valentine’s Day straight to Easter and from Halloween to Christmas on those candy aisles. πŸ™‚

  15. I do NOT shop on Black Friday as I don’t like the crowds and panic atmosphere. I usually shop online for gifts and get the rest of my necessities at Ralphs Groceries and Walmart. Some would call me a party-pooper but it’s how I roll. sm

    1. I actually ventured out to ONE store yesterday, but of course, I didn’t get out early enough so the shoes I was looking for were all picked over and I didn’t find anything in my size. Got a couple bath mats that were on special instead and a few Christmas gifts for extended family that were on sale, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. Probably would have been better off at home, though. Oh well. I gave it a try.

  16. I have only done the early morning Black Friday madness once just to see what it was all about. I figured people were nuts to wait outside freezing their butts off just to fight over stuff they didn’t need. I shop all year and watch the ads for sales this time of the year.
    Thanks for the quickie history lesson. I really had no idea where the term Black Friday came from.
    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    1. Thanks, Patricia. You, too! πŸ™‚

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