White Thursday - Black Friday

Believe it or not, my life DOES involve more than just shopping.


And just to prove it, today I shall write about er.... um.... travel!

Okay, sure. It's about travelling to a mall, but it does involve drama, horror and overcoming incredible odds. All the ingredients for a stirring tale.

Then again, mebbe not.

It's really about *sigh* shopping.

For the past month, daughter and I have been eaglerly anticipating our first-ever "Black Friday". You see, as mild-mannered Canucks, the closest thing we have to the frenzy known as Black Friday is "Boxing Day" (born from the English tradition of giving to the poor the day after Christmas). We just had to satisfy our morbid curiosity of this strange phenomenon, so I booked our usual hotel room near the Mall of America (natch) for a few days of UCB (Uber-Consumerism-Blissfulness).

Finally the big day came: November 25th. Travel Day. American Thanksgiving. Like a scene straight out of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, we eagerly jumped out of our beds way-too-early on the morning of our eight-hour drive to witness Mother Nature's cruel joke:

I highly doubted we were going anywhere. But I shook my fist at the grey clouds, wiped the huge fluffy snowflakes out of my eyes, dug out the car, checked online to find no highway closures and stubbornly began our trip.

It was a slow start. Did I say slow? More akin to agonizingly, frustratingly snail-like.

The first hour was spent inching our way inside the city limits, at the blazing speed of 2 miles/hour on average, taking nearly an hour to drive the distance it usually takes ten minutes to travel.

Well, daughter, congratulations. We made it to Starbucks. 

Down the street.

Crap. That bitch Mother Nature was winning.

More than once I flirted with the crazy idea to turn around, but we perservered. The Mall was calling.

Once we got out onto the highway, it wasn't as bad as expected. There were some tense white-out moments, but the traffic was very light -- a combination of the weather and the fact that most Americans were watching football, the Macy's parade and/or preparing to pass out after gorging on Thanksgiving turkey no doubt.

As we passed the halfway mark just beyond Fargo, the clouds parted and the light dusting of white Minnesota laughingly calls "snow" was a beautiful sight. With Sam's co-piloting expertise, we made the trip in just over our usual summer-travelling time.

Take THAT, Mother Nature! Woot!

After an early bedtime, daughter and I awoke at 3 am, wondering what we would encounter when we got to the MoA. Would we get a parking spot? Would there be lineups out the door? Would we need our extra-thick winter outerwear to keep warm as we huddled at the door, awaiting the Grand Opening? And worst of all, would I ever be able to stop this annoying habit of asking myself questions?

Um. Nope.

We parked in the nearly deserted parkade. We walked through the heated skywalk and into the Mall like it was any other day. Actually, it was very surreal: the Mall of America at 4 am on Black Friday.... other than a lineup at Best Buy (which we smartly circumvented) there was barely a shopper in sight:

Even at 2 pm when we were ready to return to our hotel to collapse amid our pile of shopping bags, the crowds weren't as bad as I had been lead to believe...

Well, now. I do think we have been taken in.

All the hype. All those dire warnings, news reports and nay-sayers.... pffft! Our Boxing Day crowds are worse. Of course, they're not spread out in the vast wasteland that is known as the MoA.... I am guessing you could have hundreds of thousands of shoppers there without realizing it.

So now at least I can say "been there, done that" when someone speaks of dum, dum, dum.... "Black Friday!"

Yep, I'm glad we went. We got a lot of great deals, had a terrific mother-daughter mini-vacation and Sam even made a new friend too.

And best of all... we didn't let Mother Nature win.

This time.

32 People would rather be commenting:

Belle said...

Great story! Glad you made it in spite of the weather. I wondered myself what it would be like down there on Black Friday.

David Macaulay said...

Interesting - I think it was hell in some places round here but I guess the Mall of America's so fast it can swallow up the crowds

Jackie said...

Thanks for the first hand account! I don't shop on boxing day but I'm betting it's not as bad as we hear neither. I'm so happy for Sam to have found a buddy and a moose of all things :)

Happy belated thanksgiving!

ReformingGeek said...

I think it was more crowded the day I was there in early June.

Glad you had a safe trip!

CarrieMarie said...

glad you made it safely & had fun!! : )

Jay said...

"A light dusting of what Minnesota laughingly calls snow" Hahahahahahahahahaha!!! I've seen pics of snow in Minnesota, but compared to where you live, no doubt it is a 'light dusting'! ROFL!!

Fun story - I've never been to the MoA, of course, but then, I'm not that big on shopping for the sake of shopping.

Good to hear you got some bargains!

Daisy said...

Shopping triumphs over Mother Nature! Hooray!

Jaffer said...

For the first time ever, I unknowingly participated in "Cyber Monday"

I am very excited for the arrival of this next weekend. I know there's a blog post in it somewhere :-)

Richard said...

I did it once. Never again!

Anonymous said...

Black Friday shopping can be wild! Glad to hear you made out ok. I’m currently working on a program for Proctor & Gamble and Iams pet food. After looking through your site, I think that it could be a good fit for you. If you’d like more information, please drop me a note at trevor@rocketxl.com and I will follow up with additional details. I look forward to connecting with you.

Irene said...

I'm glad it wasn't anything like you were led to believe it was going to be and that you had a good time. Was it worth the long trip?

A Frazzled Mommy said...

I won't even go to the MoA on a weekend because it's always packed and I'm afraid of one of my kids deciding they like a store and I'll never see them again. The picture you took looks more deserted than a regular weekday when everyone is at work and school. I'm shocked!

JoJo said...

I knew you were gonna go to the MoA on our Black Friday! lol Glad you made it there and back safely.

Our stores were a complete and utter mob scene. If you had gone to a local Walmart in the area, it would have been packed w/ everyone who can't afford the MoA!

I always thought Boxing Day was in observance of the Boxer Rebellion. I will have to look that up...

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

Yucky snow!

Lazarus said...

Thanks for helping the American economy Maureen, we can use ever bit of assistance that we can get!

Lazarus said...

Thanks for helping the American economy Maureen, we can use ever bit of assistance that we can get!

Lazarus said...

Thanks for helping the American economy Maureen, we can use ever bit of assistance that we can get!

Maureen said...

Thanks Belle! It really wasn't as bad as I expected. At least we weren't out in the cold shivering... now THAT'S crazy!

I think you're right David... I've been to the Mall when it's been busier (Saturdays are terrible) and I've been when it was nearly dead! Very weird.

You're welcome Jackie! Yes, Sam has a new buddy; now he/she needs a name... hmmmm.

Reforming Geek: I think you're right, and yes, I am glad we didn't get into any highway problems... that was my biggest concern.

Carmar76: Yes, I am lucky that we both love to travel together.

Jay: Yeah, I may get into trouble with my Minnesota friends for that one, eh? But we DO have a lot more snow... and got even MORE this past weekend! I have piles of the stuff nearly 4 feet high beside my driveway.

Hahaha Daisy! Yes, Good always wins over Evil!

Har Jaffer! Now that is something I haven't done either; perhaps next year I'll forgo the travel and just concentrate on Cyber Monday!

Richard: Well, see once is all it takes to say, been there, done that!

Thanks Trevor!

Nora, it's always worth the trip; actually, the trip itself is one of the best parts! We are alone in the car and get to talk... we also find new places to stop on the way and explore which is fun.

A Frazzled Mommy: Yes, I was shocked too! Sure, it got busier as the day wore on, but watching "Mall Cops" from last year's Black Friday had me thinking it was going to be a lot worse.

Ha Ha Jo-Jo! When I read your last comment, I was already writing this post; it made me laugh that you know me so well...

Perpetual Chocoholic: Good thing you don't live here then! Not only do we get a lot of snow, it lasts till April.

Lazarus: You're welcome, you're welcome, you're welcome! ;)

Babs-beetle said...

OK, I'm interested to know, what on earth 'Black Friday' is. It doesn't sound good to me, as in 'Black mood' etc. Your top photo looks just like our garden at the moment. I haven't seen this much snow in 20 years!

Maureen said...

Babs: Black Friday is always the Friday after American Thanksgiving (which is always on a Thursday). It is typically seen as the first real day of holiday preparations / shopping. Since it's the biggest shopping day of the year (with usually the best deals), it's the day that most retailers find themselves in "the Black" or in a positive financial situation. Hope I got that right...

I too used to think it was a bad connotation.

Connie - Tails from the Foster Kittens said...

Around here most of the stores that lure the black friday shoppers (see http://www.bfads.net for some of the lures) aren't in a mall, so we have to stand out in the freezing cold for hours. I did it once when the budget was tight, and it was worth it. But these days the warm bed with a full tummy is worth way more then they are offering in deals :)

Lane Mathias said...

Glad you showed Mother Nature what for:-)

Sounds like a fun road trip. I love long car journeys although an eight drive here would almost take us off the edge of the country.

I also wondered what 'black friday' was so thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that mall was not crowded at all. It's a different story here in the States - the malls were insane, and I refused to participate. But....next year, I may have to go to Canada! Er...what time is Thanksgiving dinner? (just kidding!) http://Back2Brooklyn.blogspot.com

Swubird said...


I thought my Queen was a shopper, but after reading your tale of shopping in the ice trenches, I have to say she couldn't hold a candle in a snowstorm to you. My gosh, I couldn't imagine such a trip in my wildest dreams. Is that photo your home? Brrrrrrr.

Happy trails.

Heather said...

I live here (MN) and I would never attempt the MoA on Black Friday let alone drive all that way for it! You are amazing! And now it doesn't sound nearly as scary as I had imagined it would be!

Bart said...

Sorry, you lost me at the word 'shopping'

Bruce Johnson said...

I have been out of the loop for the last 30 days doing a blogging exercise.

One of the things we did last month was to do the opposite. We flew from Arizona to Edmonton, and went to the West Edmonton Mall (supposedly the biggest one in Canada?).

I think Canadians must have something about malls. While it was impressive, I wouldn't want to hang out there...of course, unless it was 20 below outside and freezing, then it might have some functionality.

Janet said...

You are brave, brave, brave -- not for handling the slick roads, but for venturing out on Black Friday!!!

jjulie79 said...

lucky you:) you will have a snow weather at holiday
I am jealous

graduation dress Toronto

Jessica said...

I do hope you and your family are ok. I haven't seen a new post in a while! I may sound lame but I check everyday b/c I enjoy your story telling :) Happy Holidays!

Curly Glamour Girlie said...

For about 30 seconds I thought, "But you were traveling on Thanksgiving? You didn't have Thanksgiving dinner?" And then went, "Duh."

I used to do the Black Friday thing and have fond memories of shopping when it was a 'tradition' and not 'insane chaos'.

Glad it was fun!

Shi Yun said...

wow ur blogs really intresting and nice how did u manage to do tat?

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