Probably the best way to start is with a confession: I am not a great Black Friday shopper.
I want to be. I want to be one of those moms who buys the top items on everyone’s wish lists for 80 percent off retail. And I want to be able to do that within three hours – maybe four – and then come home to share my success with my husband so we can bask in the glow of all the money I have saved our family.
I am not that mom.
Some years have gone better than others, of course. I’ve just never been organized enough to really pull it off.
This year I decided to try something different. Maddy, my older daughter, is a high school senior this year. So Maddy and my younger daughter, Katy, and I decided we would all go out together for the mother-daughter bonding the experience would bring. (My husband decided to bond from a distance at home, which I think was a good call.)
At the last minute, the girls and I decided to start our shopping on Thanksgiving night. My sister tipped us off that a lot of stores would be opening at 8 p.m. at Kenwood Towne Centre so we headed north from our home in Northern Kentucky.
The mall wasn’t crowded at all when we arrived shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday.
We didn’t even have to wait in line at Hollister & Co., where everything in the store was selling at half price. In years past, that’s been a guaranteed long line in a store that blasts music for the young people who wear the clothes it sells, not the old people paying for them.
A surprising number of stores were open – I would guess maybe a third or more.
Santa was a no-show.
But even some of the small kiosks in the mall – like the Sheepskin Products cart – were open Thanksgiving night. Those businesses weren’t as busy as the Aeropostales and American Eagle Outfitters of Kenwood, but they were making sales here and there.
My girls and I shopped for a couple of hours, bought some bargains and came home, feeling like we’d gotten a head start. By the time we left a little after 10 p.m., the crowds were starting to pick up.
During the ride home, we agreed we would leave our house no later than 9 a.m. Friday to get to Kenwood before 10 a.m. Our mission: Call It Spring, which was closed Thursday, had a sign in the window that said boots were buy one pair, get one pair free before 10 a.m. Black Friday.
We got there in time Friday morning for an important lesson in fine print: the free boots had to be a pair that was already marked down.
I’m usually so good about reading the tiny letters. I blame my Thursday turkey haze.
Undeterred, we got boots and kept on shopping.
My next mistake happened at Bath & Body Works. The girls and I had fun smelling the candles that were on sale and deciding which one smelled best. My daughters liked the winning smell so much, in fact, that they told me they each wanted one for their bedrooms.
As Maddy told me later, “It smells like I just did laundry – without having to do the laundry!”
That meant I was now buying four of the candles instead of just two. It was only after we checked out that I realized I would be carrying what felt like 35 pounds of candles around the mall for the rest of our shopping trip.
We left Kenwood Towne Center for Crate & Barrel and then drove to Ulta, Old Navy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
We had some terrific customer service experiences where friendly cashiers took pity on me, helping me out with coupon codes and the like. That was a win!
After a quick stop by the Esther Price candy store in Silverton, we headed south to Florence.
We struggled to find a space at Florence Mall for the sole purpose of getting a cheese steak for Maddy at the food court and then headed to Target on Houston Road.
I’m not even sure why we went to Target, to be perfectly honest. We ended up buying a $4 movie, a few books and some junk food.
But we did accomplish the bonding.
In a moment of weakness, I told 17-year-old Maddy that she could ride in the shopping cart. Katy, who is 12, insisted on pushing her.
We got lots of strange looks. But the best moment came when Katy was pushing Maddy toward the grocery area, and we all went past another mom and her daughter, who was maybe three.
The little girl, who was walking, kept staring at Maddy in the cart and saying to her mom, “Her too big! Her too big!”
Maddy looked sheepish for the first time all day, and we all just laughed and laughed.
And that’s what I can’t wait to tell my husband about our Black Friday.