Now that the holiday shopping season is pretty much over, I wanted to take a moment and share what it is that I like and don’t like about it.
One thing is fairly consistant among people I talk to is that noone seems to like going to the mall, or near the mall, or even getting on the roads at all from Thanksgiving to January 2nd. Most of this, I find kind of funny. First off, the traffic… yeah, people are stupid, but with some good Christmas tunes (or other music if you are one of those sicko people who hates Christmas songs), a watchful eye, and a zen “I’ll get there when I get there” attitude, traffic is nothing to worry about. Just always give yourself plenty of time, and know that if you are late the simple excuse of “Traffic!” is enough for just about anybody. Then there is parking… my legs ain’t broke, ’nuff said. Well, almost. Look, seriously, most of us out there are perfectly capable of walking, just don’t go shopping on rainy days and you’ll be fine. Nothing tickles me more than watching people drive around the mall looking for the perfect parking spot for an hour when they could have parked at the end, and be halfway done with shopping by now! I am literally filled with glee when I see the vultures circling the aisles. The next thing is the crowds. Now, I completely get why most people don’t like crowds… mainly it is because crowds are pushy and they get in the way. The solution here is just to not be in a rush youself.
That whole not being in a rush thing is at the center of enjoying the holiday shopping season. Number one, don’t wait until the last minute to buy high demand gifts. If you were one of those people clammoring to buy a Wii or PS3 on December 24th… you are an idiot. You should either have bought it sooner, or come up with another plan. If I ever have kids, they are going to love me or hate me, because I simply will not put up with that crazy shopper crap. If I can’t lay my hands on a high demand gift early, they’ll be getting a letter from Santa, an IOU and a substitute gift. Christmas in February! There is just no point in killing yourself for a gift. That said, this season, I had a chance to lay hands on both a Wii and a PS3, but not dying for either, I passed them on to the next person in line. I can wait (for a better bundle deal). I’m not perfect though. I mentioned previously that I was pretty sure I hit a home run in the gift giving department this year (and I did), and part of that was an in demand gift… a Nintendo DS Lite, the pink one. I didn’t act soon enough and so the pink one slid through my fingers. I had a choice to make… get another gift, or get a non-pink one. I went with the non-pink one, because the DS itself was really the gift, the pink color was just a bonus. But that was only half the home run.
See, the DS was one of those “only if” items. I had a budget, and the DS was only on the purchase list if I could manage the other gifts with enough room in the budget left for the DS. This leads to the other side of shopping, the best side: deals.
The wife, for whom the DS was for, also wanted some power tools. Now, under normal circumstances I could have only gotten two, maybe three, tools for the budget, but it was Christmas which meant package deals. ACE Hardware happened to be running one, it was a really nice 6 piece cordless toolset for about $50-60 off the regular package price. I shopped around for other deals, but ACE was the best deal, and decent quality stuff (not top of the line, because top of the line does not go on sale, ever, because it doesn’t need to, its top of the line). None of the ACEs I went to had it, and I tried to order it online, but they weren’t giving the same deal as the in-store, so I kept searching. Finally, I found one, just one, the last one. Yay! But the box was all damaged, so I asked to talk to the manager and asked him if the item had been returned. Yep, it had been. Well, I didn’t want to buy something that was broken, so I wanted to know why it had been returned. He went to pull the customer service report to see the reason stated for return, but couldn’t find it, and I didn’t want to buy it if it was potentially broken, and he didn’t want to sell it to me if there was a possibility of return since he didn’t have any more and wasn’t going to get any more… so, he gave it to me for another $40 off, a total of about $100 off the normal list price. I bought it, took it home and tested all the parts and they all worked! Yay! That left enough room in the budget for the DS and a game.
The wife managed a similar kind of deal when she got for me the Complete Calvin and Hobbes. I know the suggested retail is $150, and Amazon sells it usually for $99… but I know she got it for $68. You can’t always get these kinds of deals just filling virtual carts online.
But back to the rush… see, the most important reason to not be in a rush, is that when you do go out to the stores and malls, you are filled with the warm feeling knowing that you are not one of those crazy people who are surrounding you. I actually like to hit the mall once or twice when my shopping is done (or nearly done) just so I can sit back and watch the people. I’ve always been a people watcher, and the holidays brings out the best and worst in people. It makes for fantastic people watching.