Friday, November 28, 2008

481 Black Friday

481 Black Friday

Never much cared for that term. It had and has overtones of gloom to it. But the big question this year is "will Black Friday really be black?"

Probably not.

The cash flow will be there. How can it not? But will there be enough to push our money-losing merchants into the black?

Thanksgiving morning, here comes the local paper. It's bigger and fatter than your normal Sunday edition with all the ads and the special sections and pullouts and wrap-arounds.

Best Buy opened at 5 this morning. But you could get coupons for the "door busters" at three. And some of those door busters were bustier than anyone could imagine. Really powerful computers for under $500. Really nice flat screen TVs at about the price of a fill up at Exxon. That kind of thing.

JC Penney opened at 3:30 in the morning. 3:30! John Cash Penney would rotate in his grave if someone could figure out a way to tell him what "his" store was doing. Penney's let no grass grow under its feet. The other majors opened at either five or six. Lazy bums!

While John Cash Penney rotates in his grave, Solomon Boscov is rotating as well. Solly started a chain of department stores in East Nowhere, PA about 100 years ago. Unlike Penney's, they're still family owned. Also unlike Penney's, they're in chapter eleven and waiting for the rest of the shoes to fall.

And there's Sam Klein, also in his grave. Sam's probably laughing. He beat the 21st Century rush by going out of business well ahead of the curve.

Alexander Farkas would be another grave spinner. But Alexanders turned itself from a cheap department store into a very lucrative real estate company. Pretty smart. Or damned lucky. And you can add Robert Hall, Howard Clothes and Crawford's to the list.

The list of stores that beat the deadline for bankruptcy is endless. Kaufmann's, A&S, Orbach's, Korvette, Altman's, Wannamakers, Bamburger's. All were ahead of their time. Oh, and the guy down the street who ran Jack's Hardware or Barrow's Music or The Shoe Parlor.

Then, there's the ad for the National Association of Domestic Automakers. They're telling us to buy cars. That's fine. You need a car, go buy a car. But maybe they should stop calling themselves "NADA." En espanol, "nada" means "nothing."

And maybe they should re-name the day "Bleak Friday."

But first, go out and help Best Buy and JC Penney stay afloat.



Shrapnel:

--If you're squeamish, don't read this riddle: What's the one thing you don't want to see happen during the Obama administration? Biden getting sworn in.

--Barbara Bush has an ulcer. That's not surprising. If you had a kid like that, you'd have an ulcer, too.

--The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was on CBS this year instead of the usual NBC. There was thought it worked that way because a parade without Couric isn't really a parade. But she wasn't there, disappointingly.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(sm)
(C) WJR 2008

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