Hunker Down: Mary Hadley invented Black Friday

Black Friday came and went. Leaving me a little confused! Didn’t it used to be just one single solitary day? Seems to me it has been stretched a mite… by several days in both directions!

It once upon a time marked the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Customers were hopping up and down to “get going” after the big meal on Thursday. Businesses were all too eager to offer up some good deals to relieve said customers of their stress, full bellies, Thanksgiving doldrums… and cash!

I don’t know who decides the official kickoff to the yuletide season today. Lord, I hope it’s not the Hallmark Channel. We’ll be drinking eggnog and buying snowmen sweaters the week after the Fourth of July!

It doesn’t take a Bob Dylan to know “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” But when you start Black Friday sales two weeks BEFORE Thanksgiving aren’t you messing with nature or the Liberty Bell or the natural selection process or the price of eggs in China…?

Maybe it’s the COVID thing. We’ve been cooped up at home too long. Perhaps the slowed economy has made the merchants more creative. Cyber shopping possibly has opened up some new Windows (pun most definitely intended).

I saw a thing on that advertised Black Friday Week. Verizon wireless used the same term in a bid to draw attention to their 5G phones.

“Black Friday Week” is a contradiction, oxymoron, paradox all rolled into one! Think about it. How many days can you actually spread one Friday over?

Of course, it could be like that first Friday in September of my freshman year in college when I opened the “Dear John” letter from a childhood sweetheart who promised to love and cherish me forever. That day lasted six years!

But I don’t think you can compare love and shopping. Unless you’re my Aunt Ruby Nell… but that is another whole story.

I can’t be the only one scratching my head over this deal. Down through the ages (or at least back to the 1980s) Black Friday sales were special and specific to that day. Stores advertised and “sold low” to attract as many folks as possible to peruse their wares.

It appears the modern Black Friday has bulked up on steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.

And I have no idea why we are talking about this today. I didn’t buy one thing on Black Friday. I didn’t plan to. I haven’t bought any gifts yet. And I still don’t have a list. I wait for the real deals…

Listen, you can’t beat the last-minute sales on Christmas Eve, after 5 p.m… especially if you are looking for something purple in an extra-large size.

When I was growing up back home J. A. Abernathy and Bailey Moore Wrinkle didn’t need a gimmick to get you into their respective hardware stores in the weeks leading up to Christmas. All they did was put the toys in the downstairs room, throw a Christmas tree in one corner, paste some red and green ribbons around the place and get out of the way.

The kids showed up in droves.

I don’t ever remember them advertising. And we didn’t know Black Friday from Easter Sunday.

We visited the stores year-round. Dad would send us after nails or something. It was no problem; the walk was only a mile-and-a-half from the house.

It seemed much shorter in December. And the magic leaped through the snow and reindeer painted on the front windows (real glass by the way).

It probably helped that the two stores sat kitty-cornered across the south end of Broadway and Lee Avenue from each other. We could get to both with ease.

And neither owner cared if we tried the Slinky out on the steps leading down to the toys. We tossed the basketballs up in the air. We tried out every seat on the long line of bicycles. We sighted down the barrel of the Daisy air rifles. We ran our hands over the Tonka trucks…

You can’t smell cyber. You can’t shake an online purchase before the sale. You can’t look sad and broke… so the hard drive drops the price. You can’t hear the laughter from the Coleman brothers as they dug through the toys in Mr. Abernathy’s basement.

I don’t mean to disparage online shopping or the merits of Black Friday, whether it lasts one day or six weeks. I’m just saying Bob Dylan hit the nail on the head.

And I still remember the first Friday in September, 1965. Now folks, THAT was a Black Friday!



This article originally appeared on The Star: Hunker Down: Mary Hadley invented Black Friday

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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