In years past, Black Friday shopping has consisted of long lines, crowded stores and the occasional fistfight.
But this year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many stores are offering limited hours and even starting their deals online and in-store a week ahead of the Shopper’s Super Bowl.
Despite these changes, Gainesville resident Marty Darracott said that he and his wife plan to continue their 30-year-strong tradition of arising at 3 a.m. Friday morning and heading out to look for the best deals.
“We will definitely go out again this year and we will just have to find the stores that are gonna be opening up,” said Darracott. “It doesn’t matter what the policies and procedures are on [the stores] part, we’ll adhere to everything they ask us to do with masks or whatever we need to.”
Darracott said his family’s Black Friday shopping tradition began with he and his wife when they got married. Then, their two daughters were born, and as they grew up the entire family started shopping together.
He said that in recent years, the tradition has included shopping all day long Friday, pausing only to eat lunch at Olive Garden, then ending the day by decorating the Christmas tree at their family home.
Shopping together on Black Friday has created priceless memories for Darracott and his family, and he said that having this tradition gives him something certain to look forward to in this uncertain year.
“I just believe tradition is healthy for the family, healthy for memories that are made and just gives you something to press on throughout the year, to look forward to, especially this year with everything that’s happened,” said Darracott.
But Darracott is one of just a few regular Black Friday shoppers that are sticking with their traditions.
Blue Still lives in Gainesville and said that he normally goes out shopping Black Friday morning to protect some friends of his wife from potentially crazed shoppers.
Still said he is a “people person” and so he likes to go out on Black Friday and help hold places in line for his wife’s friends.
But given the circumstances this year, Still said he will probably stay home and do most of his Christmas shopping online.
“There’s nothing that I need…unless there’s literally a PS5 sale somewhere, I’ll be the one that’s camping out for two days and getting it for my son…but if not then I’ll be doing everything online” Still said.
Still said he will miss the normal tradition of shopping on Black Friday, because of the overall experience- from watching shoppers fight over certain items to running into old friends.
“You’ll get somewhere and then somebody that you haven’t seen in five years you’ll all of a sudden see,” said Still. “It’s fun to be out and about early in the morning…it’s fun to be around all of those people.”
Like Still, Gainesville resident Nancy Garner and her two daughters, Jennifer Elrod and Emilee Phillips, said that they will likely skip on their normal Black Friday shopping.
The trio said that they usually meet for breakfast Friday morning before heading out to shop. This year, they still plan on meeting for breakfast, but are skipping the shopping.
Garner said that due to the pandemic, she and her daughters have already started shopping in stores when crowds are lighter or shopping online.
“If it weren’t for the pandemic we would probably still get out and do some [shopping], but every year we’re getting a little more to doing it online,” said Garner.
Elrod and Phillips agreed that they would miss the shopping experience together, but are more concerned with staying safe and spending time with their families, whatever that may look like.
“It’s not so much the shopping as just the spending time together with each other,” said Elrod. “The tradition is fine and everything but it’s more about being together.”
Phillips added that she prefers to think of the change as creating a new tradition, rather than missing out on an old one.
“I think it does bring about traditions and just creating news ones and spending more time with family as a meal instead of going out and about…just cherishing that time together no matter how it looks,” said Phillips.
A link is here for anyone who is interested in learning more details for Black Friday 2020 and what stores are opening and when.