Why would anyone wait hours in line for a sale? People do it for Black Friday every year, for video game system releases, iPhones and recently, a Build-A-Bear. Really? Why? What foolish person would do that? Why would they be so pathetic to wait in line when they could just pay full price later? How desperate are they?
Who Would Be Crazy Enough To Stand In A Long Line Just For A Sale?
Well, I don’t share those thoughts. I don’t think people are foolish, pathetic or desperate for standing in line for a sale. Even if it is hours upon hours. I recognize that there are lots of motives for why people might stand in line for a bear, phone or a big screen TV.
My favorite day of the year involves getting in line at 3:30 AM. More on that later, but I am tired of judgmental comments about those that stand in line to buy items on sale. If you read the comments in any story about events like this, there is lots of negativity about those that decide to wait in line.
Why Wait In Line For A Sale?
So, what are their reasons then? Are they lazy, unemployed people that are cheap and desperate? I doubt it. A lazy person, by definition, wouldn’t get there early. Just because someone isn’t at work during a particular timeframe doesn’t mean they are unemployed. There are lots of ways to work and manage to wait in line for something. Ever heard of a day off?
Are they cheap? Maybe, but is that a big deal? Are “cheap” people lesser? Is one superior because they can or would rather pay full price? The “cheap” can pay full price too. They just decided at that moment to take advantage of a sale.
Are they desperate? I don’t think so. I can’t speak for everyone but that does not match what I have seen. There might be some isolated incidences of that behavior, but not enough to brand everyone that way.
Waiting in line can be a lot of fun if you are prepared. Is there bad behavior at times? Yeah, but I honestly don’t feel that is representative of the whole. Retailers aren’t innocent in this though. It is up to them to create safe conditions for both customers and store employees. Letting people race in through a small door is asking for trouble.
Also, crowds can be difficult, so it is also up to everyone to treat each other with respect. I do feel though, that most of time, there are no issues. One store or incident is not representative of the whole.
Build-A-Bear Pay Your Age Day
On July 12 of this year, Build-A-Bear had a sale where you pay the age of your child for any stuffed animal in their store. So, parents across America and the UK, including my wife, planned to go to the store and wait in line for a bear. They brought their kids for what seemed like a fun day.
It was a good willed idea that, unfortunately, probably did more harm than good. Maybe the whole, “there is no such thing as bad press” will work out for them though.
I don’t want to get too much into the Build-A-Bear problems, but basically, the lines were much, much longer than anticipated. As a result, after waiting in line for a few hours, a lot of people were turned away. To make it worse, there were a lot of kids in those lines. Who cares about the kids being sad? I joke, kind of. Think about the parents who had to endure hours of waiting while watching multiple kids.
That sure sucks and the stores should have handled it better. They could have been more aware of their inventory and started turning people away once the line reached a point they couldn’t accommodate.
Quotes from the company include the following.
“There was no way for us to estimate the kind of impact, those kinds of crowds. It far surpassed anything we ever could have known.”
Honestly, I don’t think they fully get the problem, but we’ll see how they respond if they ever do something like this again. Hopefully they, and other retailers learn a lesson from this.
My Wife’s Experience
Fortunately, my wife and kids did manage to get a bear. They did not get turned back. They got their bears for a combined total of $3 and saved about $40 total!
Here’s the kicker, they got there at 8:30 AM and left at 1:30 PM! That’s right, they waited 5 hours for 2 stupid bears!
That’s probably how it felt to a lot of people who endured the long wait. Or maybe how it seems to anyone on the outside of it.
Fortunately, she waited inside with AC. Other locations in Phoenix had people waiting outside. That sounds miserable and I can understand getting frustrated with the conditions of the wait. It was 102 degrees that day!
My saint of a wife was excited to see that they had a Paw Patrol animal so she snagged that for our 2-year-old. He loves Paw Patrol and it dominates our house. Our 10-month-old got a regular bear that we will regift for his birthday in September. That’s the reality of having cheap parents!
Yes, that is my son trying to climb the guardrail.
Our Build-A-Bear Visit
When my wife managed to make it in the store, she purchased the ‘pelts’ of the stuffed animal but she decided to just pay for it and stuff it later. This was all new to me, but her quick thinking allowed others behind her to keep moving and she could get on with her day.
The store allowed her to come back later and complete the process another time. So, we went this weekend and it was a fun time! We helped them stuff the bears, including putting a ‘heart’ in the animals before sewing them up. Very sweet!
Then, we named them and gave them birth certificates. It was a fun evening that wouldn’t have been possible if she hadn’t waited in line.
I feel bad for those that had to bail, or worse, were turned away. There is a program they have on kid’s birthdays now where they pay their age. Hopefully, those families will take advantage of that deal for the next kid’s birthday.
I know we’re considering it.
Here’s what we ended up with!
Initially, she thought she would be in line 2-3 hours. She planned to get there 1.5 hours before the store opened, which she did. She was shocked to see a really long line though when she got there but she decided to wait anyways. Fortunately, at the location she went to, she was inside a mall and they opened an hour earlier than usual.
She met a friend there who brought their kids and they made it a social event. They both stay at home with their kids and they saw this as a fun opportunity to get some cheap stuff animals.
It wasn’t just about the bear though, it was an opportunity to do something nice for the kids. It was something unique and it gave her a chance to spend time with a friend and have the kids interact.
There was lots of judgement going around about who would stand in line for this sale. This isn’t anything new as people frequently put each other down online on social media.
I saw these comments on a random newscast video on Facebook. For as much grief Build-A-Bear was getting there were lots of comments towards the people in line! I don’t think these comments were isolated either. They appear to represent what I typically see related to Black Friday or other sales.
Here’s a sample of what I saw.
Some positive comments though.
Who cares what they decide to do with their time? It was their decision to wait. They weren’t forced to be there and it doesn’t affect your life.
People aren’t sheep because they independently decided to go and wait in a line for a product they decided they wanted. Also, they can go to the dollar theater any day. This promotion was for this day only.
…And More Judgement
This event was also held in the UK and this article seems to show a similar set of results for many that waited in line.
There seems to be such animosity and hate towards anyone that might stand in line for a long time? Why? How does it affect you?
What about the kids though? Based on what my wife said, for those that weren’t prepared and their kids wanted to go, they just left.
Do the same people complain when a parent takes a kid to an amusement park all day, out in the sun and gives them soda instead of water? What do they say when the kid is passed out by the time they leave late at night after a 12-hour day of waiting in countless lines for 2-minute rides?
The comment about neglect and child services is out of line too and completely ignorant to the horror of actual child neglect and abuse. Looking at that comment there is 18 likes and 0 dislikes!
Normally, I would be annoyed with these comments and move on, but this time, it is personal. My wife is not a sheep, she’s far from stupid, she’s not greedy and she certainly has the kid’s best intentions in mind. To target the thousands of parents that brought their kids out is misguided and irresponsible.
Clearly, the event could have been handled better by Build-A-Bear. But to say that the parents are stupid or neglectful is wrong.
Why Not Go To Work Instead?
This phrase drives me nuts for multiple reasons. There are many situations that could lead someone to being in line on a weekday.
The bigger point though, is that if you should be working instead of being in line, then why don’t you work every day of the week? That’s right, why take any day off when you could be earning money? Just save up your PTO and have it paid out when you leave your job.
The point of handling your money right is so that you don’t have to be constantly working. What about passive income? Or what about families that have one income and a stay at home parent? What about people that have their own business and can pick and choose when to work?
I can tell you that we earned about $20 on Etsy selling digital downloads while my wife was in line. Her being in that situation is the result of years of hard work to be there.
I don’t know the situation of everyone there and I’m sure there were some dumb decisions made, but I bet you would find lots of valid reasons for each person in that line.
To Sale Or Not To Sale
A common phrase I hear in the personal finance community is “if it is 30% off then it is 70% on.” That phrase is mentioned whenever days like Black Friday are brought up. It’s a great phrase and if you have issues with compulsive shopping or debt you should definitely consider it before making a purchase.
The problem I have with it though is that it seems to disregard that an item is on sale and that is a good thing. One should never purchase something because it is on sale. You have to have a good reason why and it should be a planned expense in your budget. Purchasing items on sale though is a great way to make a budget work though.
Buying an item on sale is better than paying full price! Just don’t do it on a whim.
The thing is, Black Friday, Amazon Prime Day or Cyber Monday isn’t a surprise on the calendar. If you are looking to make a bigger purchase, I strongly suggest waiting until one of these days to do so. We know they are coming! The benefit is that it gives you time to wait and really decide if you want it. You can plan for it!
We bought an Instant Pot, a Fitbit and an Echo Dot last year during sales like this and we love those purchases. I’d waited months to buy those when others would simply say “I’ll just pay full price for it now and not wait.”
Whether or not someone waits in a line like this or buys something on Black Friday is not representative of compulsive spending behavior. That behavior will show up anytime of the year in multiple situations.
Why We Wait In Line
Every year in February we go to the annual used book sale at the state fairground. It is the largest sale like this in the country. If you’ve ever bought a book from a 3rd party seller on Amazon, it is sales like this, that they might have purchased their inventory from.
It is my favorite day of the year and it opens at 8:00 AM. Over the years I have worked up to getting there at 3:30 AM to get a better spot in line that starts forming the day before. That’s right, there are already people there sleeping in tents.
While a handful of books are announced on the book sale’s website, it is basically a surprise as to what books are available.
So why would we wait in line then if we don’t even know what books are available? Because there are thousands of books covering every topic you can imagine in there. If you are a book lover, like myself, you will see the benefit.
It even has books on sneaky people!
I am going to be honest though, once those doors open, it is every person for themselves. It is business at that point for the next few hours. Get your game face on!
Our friends then meet up and go through our books and offer up our finds to each other if we decide not to purchase them.
Here’s the line at the opening. It is worth it to beat that crowd.
The Point Of Waiting In Line
The fun of waiting in line is that we get to hang out with our friends and converse. We talk about the glory days of the book sale, share tips or catch up on what we have been up to over the year. It is great fun! Yeah, we wake up early and could be sleeping in a comfortable bed. But I could be doing that any day of the year. Today is the day of the book sale.
It completely misses the point to tell someone they could be doing something else with their time. The point is that this event is one day of the year just like Black Friday. So sometimes, to get what you want, you sacrifice in one area to gain in the other.
That is the decision that people choose to make. When someone wakes up early or camps out in front of a store for a day or a week it doesn’t mean they’re unemployed, stupid and lazy. They know what their getting in to. Just because it isn’t for you doesn’t mean it is right to say a bunch of nasty comments towards them. Just move on and focus on your life.
Now, with that said, it is time for me to move on. With no apologies, I will do some shopping for Black Friday this year on my terms and I’m already getting pumped about the book sale in February. Maybe we’ll get there at 3:00 AM next time?
To each their own. It reminded me of the old days (pre Internet) when parents had to get in huge lines at Toys R Us for Christmas. Most of them are doing it for their kids. Funny how people got judgmental considering a lot of people do the same at Walmart or Best Buy on Black Friday. I can personally attest that Erin is not a sheep.