Follow the Balloons

balloonsSince we are now on the outskirts of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I thought I would tell the tale of the one and only time I have taken part in one of these sales as a consumer instead of an employee.

Last year, Walmart had an outstanding deal on an Xbox combo. They were doing the Xbox with Kinect and a $50 gift card for $200. Couldn’t beat that deal, so I headed into the fray.

Now, let me be clear. I like to shop online. I like catalogs. I like to window shop. I like to shop for anything with Jamy Wellman, because, well, she likes to shop, and i like being with her hotness.

I don’t like shopping for shopping’s sake.

I got to Walmart, not knowing anything about procedure or protocol. I didn’t know there would be maps at the front of the store. I didn’t know the lines to the goodies would serpentine through the store like a corn maze.

But then, I saw balloons. And as Brian Regan says, you should always buy anything to which balloons are attached (which is why car lots use them to attract attention to their wares).

An employee was about to put up the route direction signs and he had balloons. I saw the sign in his hand that said “Xbox,” so I followed him. And I ended up near the beginning of the line.

Got the deal. A great deal. In retrospect, here are a few thoughts…

  1. A deal is only a good deal if it is worth the time it takes to get the deal. I stood in line for two hours and arguably saved about $150. $75 an hour? I can live with that. This has always been my question about extreme couponing. You see these stories on television about people who save thousands of dollars a year with coupons, but they do so by spending countless hours clipping, web surfing, and even dumpster-diving. Is it really worth the time and energy?
  2. Peoples is peoples (Name that film. I dare you.). Pallets of shrink-wrapped merchandise, all clearly marked with specific times at which the items would be available. Yet people huddled around the pallets until one person decided to jump the gun. Then the hoard became a mob, and people were grabbing whatever they could pile into their respective carts. Made me glad I wasn’t trying for that stuff.
  3. When in doubt, improvise. It didn’t look like I got there in time until I found Balloon Guy. In fact, others saw me following him, realized what I was trying to pull off, and followed ME. I wouldn’t have pulled off my acquisition without finding the balloon guy.

Ever scored like that? What did it take to get your goodies?