OPINION: Standing in line a high price to pay

There aren't too many Black Friday or Boxing Day sales worth waiting around for, writes columnist Nick Greenizan.

I don’t do lineups.

Unless it’s unavoidable, I steer clear of crossing the border at peak times; I’ll stay sober at football games if the beer line stretches beyond what I arbitrarily decide is reasonable; and I’ve never seen a movie on opening night.

And while I’ve never been in a police lineup, I can’t imagine those are much fun, either.

It’s why – save for one experience as a teenager – I’ve never been one to wade into frothing-at-the-mouth crowds of rabid shoppers on Boxing Day, nor wait hours for a store to open on Black Friday, which for all intents and purposes is the U.S. version of Boxing Day, smartly placed before Christmas rather than a day later.

Black Friday madness has started to creep north of the border in recent years, as Canadian businesses stay in lockstep with their American competitors.

But both phenomena – unofficial holidays that they are – beg, from me, a simple question:

You know the Internet is a thing, right? Online deals are often just as good, if not better, than any loss-leader holiday sale.

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone else.

Now, I realize online shopping still isn’t for everyone, nor is it necessarily the cure-all for all your holiday shopping needs. There are some who don’t want their credit-card numbers out in cyberspace.

As well, there are masochistic folk out there who – bless their hearts – actually seem to enjoy the early wake-up calls, the crowds and the fighting to be the first person to snag that 70-per-cent off deal on a blender or flatscreen TV.

I mean, I still don’t get it – again, Amazon exists – but to each their own.

Instead, I choose to enjoy Black Friday and Boxing Day from the comfort of my living room, where I can sit with my coffee and my smartphone, and scroll through my social-media timelines where inevitably stories will pop up of stampeding crowds at Wal-Mart, or fistfights between adults – actual adults – as they vie for the latest, greatest toy for their kids.

As long as nobody gets killed as a result – and sadly, it’s happened on occasion – that’s better than any sold-at-a-loss deal, to me.

Perhaps my disdain for these shop-a-thons comes as a result of my one Boxing Day shopping experience.

I was 17 or 18 years old, and a friend of mine wanted to buy cheap stereo equipment for his car. He didn’t want to stand outside for hours alone, and I thought maybe I’d find a deal on speakers for my ’83 Accord.

(Sure, any money spent on that car should’ve likely been for fixing the heat and rear-defroster, but that’s besides the point.)

So off we went – into the dark, cold, early morning – to stand in front of some local audio/video store along with about 50 other suckers with dreams of $30 sub-woofers and cheap CDs (remember those?).

We were about a third of the way down the line, and I remember us laughing about those at the rear of the lineup.

“They should’ve got here earlier. They’re never going to get anything,” we all said.

A few hours later, and with the doors just minutes from opening, a store employee announced we’d all be drawing numbers to see who gets in first.

It caused a scene better than almost anything I could have hoped for inside.

And I still didn’t get my speakers.

That was it for me and Boxing Day, with the exception of a few years ago, when I had to canvass my neighbourhood beer-and-wine stores when supplies ran low.

Instead, I’ll stick to shopping locally the other 363 days, and let everyone else wake up early and fight over door-crasher sales.

If anyone finds a deal on some speakers, let me know.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.