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Why Black Friday Should be a Tailgating Party with Fans


Best Buy on Black Friday

As early as Eight o’clock on Thursday night, Best Buy’s extremist of customers started lining up outside of their stores in preparation for the store’s Black Friday 5 A.M. opening. You could find many of the crazed crowd wrapped up in heavy blankets, in sleeping bags and pitched tents on the storefront sidewalk. 

Since my wife and I have been looking around for a new TV to replace our 28 year old tube (Evidently Dillards sold some good TV’s back in the day.), some of our relatives jokingly thought I should go out there and wait with the crowd in hopes of getting an awesome deal. They even said they would bring me out some leftovers for dinner.

That got me thinking. Why wasn’t there anyone from Best Buy out there taking care of these people, no matter how crazy they are?

The whole thing is already a lot like waiting in line for the concert tickets of the year or a tailgating party before the big game. The only thing missing is the local radio station blaring tunes for the crowd and broadcasting live on location. Throw in a couple of vendors selling turkey legs, hot chocolate, t-shirts and memorabilia you’re all set for a Black Friday celebration.

The typical Black Friday strategy is to create the illusion of scarcity by offering certain items at largely discounted prices. This, in turn, drives traffic to the store. In theory this should work. After all, I’m more likely to buy something impulsively once I’m in the store.

The only problem with this is that all the retailers are using exactly the same strategy. Really I think it comes down to a word of mouth problem. With everyone is screaming the same message (HUGE DISCOUNTS), in the same way (TV ads, Newspaper ads, flyers, emails) then who are consumers going to listen to?

The answer: People they trust. And where are consumers before Black Friday? They are with friends and family talking about any and everything, and I’m sure shopping plans for the following day will be thrown into the mix somewhere. In my families case, we were talking about the line that had already started to form outside of Best Buy.

This is where my question to Best Buy comes in. What better way to get people talking even more than by embracing these extreme customers that are drawing attention to your store, by throwing a Black Friday tailgating party?

Here are some ideas on how you can turn a boring pre-Black Friday line into a tailgating party:

  • Hire a DJ spinning the newest music releases. Throw in some Christmas tracks here or there.
  • Pull in a huge Best Buy bus with wide screen HD plasma TV’s on the side.
  • Have a gaming tournament.
  • Hand out fleece Best Buy blankets and sweatshirts to the crowd.
  • Serve Thanksgiving turkey legs and hot cocoa.
  • Draw a crowd and spark the curiosity of passerbys.

At the very least it would show customers that you care.

What do you think?

Could an organized event like this possibly even prevent a tragedy like what happened at Wal-Mart?


(Photo Via: Flickr)

  1. I love the idea. First one to set up camp… they should run an extension cord out there for a tv and a gaming system. Let em play all night and then let them keep the stuff!

    Give away alarm clocks to the first 50 people in line

    It could be really fun

  2. You’ll need to take my comments with a grain of salt as I have never been to a Black Friday anything.

    I’d say do an event as you have described, but only for your most loyal customers (by invitation only and bring 2 friends). It appears to me that Black Friday is not so much a celebration of loyalty as it is a day for those with the sharpest elbows and littlest respect for decency to try their bullying techniques (I’m not saying that everyone that participates on Black Friday is a bully. Far from it. It just appears to me that there always seems to be those few jerks that have a way of ruining it for the many).

    But make it a fun reward for those that have given you so much through the year.

  3. Bill,

    You make a good point. I think Black Friday typically draws two types of people to these early openings and in extreme cases, camp outs.

    Type A – People who are cheap, greedy and just looking for steals.

    Type B – People that love shopping and find it thrilling just to be out there with the crowds. Great deals are really just a bonus benefit to this group.

    The idea is to make it draw more of the B type people and make it less about what the A type people are there for. Make people driving by on Thursday night wonder what they are missing.

    With that said, creating an invite only V.I.P. area is an amazing idea, and there is probably a way to combine these two ideas.

  4. I do agree that the stores should use a strategy to entertain and add incentive to wait, but why not twist it even more, screw Friday, Allow their sales to happen Saturday, or later in the day on Friday. It would draw in more people and have no tim expiration in the day. I also agree that the should hand out vouchers for people in line for the “big items” so there are no people trampled in the craze.

  5. Damn good idea, Chris.

  6. I see that you’re wearing those new “value” glasses, Chris. Kudos!

  7. A party is a good idea, but it doesn’t even have to be as extravagant.

    One of my aunts was telling me over the Thanksgiving holiday that at her store, hundreds of people were lined up outside on Black Friday. She went out and asked the people what they were there to buy. It turned out the majority were there for the Wii. She went back inside, counted how many Wiis there were and came back out and gave tickets to everyone in line.

    Those who were in line after the last ticket were able to leave if they wanted and those in the front were able to relax and didn’t feel like they had to rush in and compete with each other (avoiding threats to safety, etc.) She said she saw a lot of people with tickets getting coffee once inside and just relaxing. I think it’s a very fair and smart way to go about it.

  8. Fabulous idea. That would definitely get me to stand in line. I always forgo the craziness of black friday, but if there was a tailgate party I wouldn’t definitely be there. Especially if there was an Irish coffee in the mix!


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