Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the GF and I did something bad. It wasn’t something I was planning on doing, intending to take a stand against change. We went out shopping on Thanksgiving night.
And, as you can probably expect, we weren’t alone out there. It was actually a pretty surreal experience. I hadn’t been out shopping on Thanksgiving in many years, just assuming everything except gas stations and convenience stores would be closed. But here we were, in the local mall, with a relatively large crowd, late at night. The mall was open until 11:00pm.
I have long expected this holiday shopping season to be insane, mostly because of what I see in restaurants. Restaurants are crowded again. People have money again, somehow, and they’re spending it. That’s going to translate into big retail gains. Mark my words.
But anyway, I didn’t want to go out on Thanksgiving. I did want to go out on Black Friday, probably in the afternoon, after the pre-dawn madness died down. I wanted to get televisions. I was at the point that I had zero televisions in my house. The only one I did have was a 27” mono tube TV from the 90’s. I hadn’t used it in years and finally disposed of it in the great purging earlier this year.
So this year, I wanted to get somewhat up with the times. I couldn’t really expect to do any entertaining without a TV in the house. That would make me seem just a little weird. I figured I would get a TV for the living room and one for the master bedroom. I spent a little bit of Thanksgiving morning comparing models and prices. I had some options from HH Gregg, Sears, and Best Buy, with Best Buy being the pretty obvious leader.
At the mall, we hit a clothing store and got the GF all hooked up in the wardrobe department. That’s really all we came for, but we just meandered down to Sears to see what was going on there. Sears is widely believed to be on the ropes and is expected to close up next year. The death of Sears has been predicted every year for the past decade, but they just keep chugging on. The prospect of Sears closing does make me sad, because I like Sears. They’ve pretty much always been there when I needed something.
We end up in Sears and go to the electronics section. It’s pretty empty. There’s some people looking at appliances, but the other sections are unexciting. The shelves seem lightly stocked and it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of choices. Something seems depressing about the whole setup. I repeat, no excitement.
Regardless, we start looking at what TVs are available. I’m initially disappointed because all I see are 4k TV’s, which is not what I need. As I move down the isle, getting tucked into the corner, I see the 1080p TVs, and the prices have gotten more in line with my expectations. In fact, they’re pretty good. The GF is checking out smaller TVs, in the 24” range, and they’re reasonable, too.
Since television is not a high priority to me, I can easily get by with a lower-end TV without a lot of features. Accordingly, I budgeted about $450 for each TV, hoping to get somewhere in the 45”-55” size range. These TVs at Sears fit the bill.
Then, about the service. There were a few salespeople milling about and one came up to us asking if we had questions. We asked about the capabilities of some of the smaller TVs and then discussed some of the bigger TVs. We made our choices – a 24” Samsung smart TV for $120, a 50” Samsung for $349, and a 60” Samsung for $579. We walked out with the 24” and arranged to pick up the bigger ones at their pickup area around back. Really, no more than 10 minutes and we were done.
That needs some extra emphasis. We got personal service and were done with our transactions in about 10 minutes. You try that at Best Buy. You try that at Best Buy on any other day, even non-holidays. And the Sears staff loaded the TVs into the car for us. I didn’t even wait more than a couple minutes in the pickup area. I was more than willing to pay extra to avoid the experience of fighting through Best Buy. One of the salespeople commented that he just got off the phone with a friend who was over at Best Buy. They had 2-hr checkout waits. There you have it.
After we got our purchases home, I jumped online to see how much of a premium we paid for the Sears experience. Turns out it was pretty much all the same. Because I wasn’t researching 60” sizes, I was surprised to see the prices were the same between the stores. The 50” might have been $40 more, but it may have been a slightly different model, too. The 24” was the same price, too.
I had planned to go to places that weren’t considered to be ground zero for technology deals, anyway. But I am amazed at how well it all turned out. No stress, personal service, and great prices. You should always go off the beaten path and explore. If you don’t get better service, you will probably get something more unique, both of which have tangible value.
The idiot boxes have arrived.