Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday---Cross Border Shopping

For my friend T- may your travels be merry, your children patient, and the best deals to be had. Have fun this week. 

Road trips are exhausting!

Some grain farmers from Alberta head to the deep south in winter, to see a little sunshine and experience warmth in their Canadian winter bones. My grandparents and their friends head south too, only not quite as far across the border as others. Great Falls, Montana seems to scream their names, and the deals on Black Friday have been no exception to this calling.

We have travelled with neighbours in the past to hit up Great Falls, and some might scoff heading to a 'smaller' city to shop. Alas,  Albertans love a good deal as much as they love their beef. Young ones burn down in two tone trucks- different shades of dust-all gussied up with teased  hair and made up ivory skin for a cheap vacation and to haul back el cheapo Wranglers.  Throw fifteen years on their lives and they will be buying cheap shampoo and Shasta, with car seats pinched in the back of the 'burb'.  Momma's buy snow suits, carefully planned Christmas gifts, and stock up on brands of baby gear you can't find at home. A mighty whoop whoop would be hollered at the Big R and a small hallelujah at Target.  Cross border shopping is no stranger to some and Albertan's know which hotel has the nicest pool, which will squirrel up the most packages ordered in, and hands down which facility has the finest continental breakfast. For the rural Prarieites who don't get to town a lot, gracing the streets of Great Falls is as much as holiday as heading to Cancun, only the souvenirs brought home aren't little trinket shells. Border guards are used to trucks full of Ivomec, cheap fabric, and Carhartt's stacked to the hilt. I'm always just a little afraid that they think we are hauling stuff home for a 125 person mixed farming operation, and that they are a bit confused that my name isn't Dorothy and my husband's isn't Jake on our passports.

Now, although I have never experienced Black Friday in the US, the stories of people roaming the streets at the oddest hours have always struck me as a little wild. The day following a calendar day that is supposed to honour gratitude for what you have, people seem to just plumb lose their minds and race into the cities to haul more. stuff. home.

I had heard stories of people getting trampled in these American cities, all pushing and shoving for the best deals that might be pinched in the back of the store. When my Grandma came home from a trip to the US on this blessed day, she was sporting a big, black shiner and glasses that were taped together and our concern hit a high note. Learning that she took a tumble on the curb at the border lessened our worries of Grandma shopping in the States.

Really, I don't know why we should ever worry about this Grandma. She is able to carry more bags than my sister and I combined and is generally referred to as our mom, not our Grandmother. She would never wake up like those "crazy people who line up at 0300" but at 0400 she had said the lines were thinning as she sidled up to get the best deal on boots in town.  Energy flows in this lady's blood and sometimes I wish that it had somehow flowed down to me.

Grandma and her posse stay in the same hotel year after year on this weekend and would book far in advance, looking for that deal that was out there. Coolers were packed in their trucks alongside their suitcases, to bring back grated cheese, blocks of cheese and basically any kind of cheese that was cheap as chips. It wasn't uncommon for there to be ten cake mixes tucked in the vehicle, and it was then that I realized that some things might be coming home that wouldn't always get used, but the fact that they were basement bargain's placed them at home in Grandma's pantry.

Now, these folks who would travel down together were bargain savvy. After a full day of shopping for ingredients to make the finest Christmas crackers around (that of course couldn't be found in Canada), these gals would make their own meals in the evening. They wouldn't just cook to save cash,   but because you could bet your bottom dollar that they could cook better than most restaurants in town. Cards were played in the evenings and the clock would tick until it was time to get up and hit repeat  on their day.

The woman who put on miles with Grandma, that have a few decades on me, make me long for a small fraction of their energy. I wish for their incredible deal shopping ways and hey, if we're making wishes that aren't worth a plugged nickel, you might as well throw me some cooking skills too.

For Black Friday next year, Montana watch out! Grandma is coming for you and I might just be along in her shadow, puffing away to try and keep up. We'll eat you out of your deals and drink up your southern hospitality--feel free to head north for Boxing Day to probably pay twice what you do for your jeans in the south, but you'd be welcome just the same.


Jennifer said...

I loved this! We don't do the 'Black Friday' thing, and its insane how insane people get!

Jaclyn Hicks said...

I wish you the best of luck! We hunker down on Black Friday and buy online in our jammies!

Gumbo Lily said...

This is funny! I wouldn't think our prices would be any better than yours, but maybe. The thing is, I love Target. It's two hours away from me and I just can't wait for a trip to the city to go browsing through Target.

I'm not a Black Friday shopper at all. I prefer shopping at home with the soft Pandora music of my choice, the hot cuppa coffee in my hand, and all the time I want to buy exactly what I want. But I will still make my Dec. trip to Target.

Did you go South for any deals?

LeAnna said...

What a fun tradition! I don't go out for Black Friday shopping, though my hubby does stock up on certain tools he can get cheaper than any other time of the year. I hate the materialism, but love a good bargain so we glean where we can save a buck on necessities! Oklahoma just passed an open carry law (where you can carry your gun in the open, and not concealed, with the right permit of course) so I wasn't too keen on being out at Black Friday the same month as open carry, haha!

The Goerzen Girls...and Art said...

Oh my, I laughed so hard at this post....because it's all true! I've got my wranglers on hold (bought on Black Friday, of course), Carhartt's delivered to the hotel already, and you bet your bottom dollar that I WILL be stocking up on lots and lots of cheese! The only thing missing from this trip will be seeing you! Maybe next time...

Steph said...

It's funny to hear someone refer to Great Falls, Montana as "south". I've been there, it's not south. ;)

Jessy @ WestEastern said...

Cheyenne, I LOVE THIS.

First, you had me at "Big R" and "Target." There are very few things in life that I need and can't find at one of the two.

My mother is a religious Black Friday shopper, though her dedicated only extends to a 15-minute drive one town over (the perks of suburban New Hampshire.) I went with her one year to see what the hype was all about and was pleasantly surprised that the whole experience was exactly what you describe here: one part war, one part party. We lined up in the 15-degree early New Hampshire dawn next to strangers who were out for the $5.00 seasons of Gilmore Girls and laptop computers as us and shared stories over hot chocolate.

It was a blast and I highly recommend you give it a try - it seems to be that Black Friday Alberta/Montana style might just be something worth experiencing!


Libbie said...

It's true...all of it :). I haven't missed a black Friday in years...this year I had neon pink cheeks from windburn from standing in freezing cold lines...didn't even get any great deals, but it's tradition AND what if I had missed a deal :). Got half my shopping done in three hours though! I think I just like shopping when the fam is that is a good deal :)

Holly said...

This is a great story! I'm laughing out loud! I live in a U.S. border town and I swear, Canadian's don't have anything better to do than shop (and watch!) Thank goodness for their business, as it keeps our economy strong!
I haven't done BF for a few years, but did head out this year...not until 5:30, and got everything I was looking for...and no lines! Seems everyone went at midnight.
I think it's fun if you don't Have to get anything, and can just Enjoy the moment. People watching is quite enjoyable! We always see people and friends we know, and our pastor always picks up some wonderful sermon material!
I would love to go to Great Falls...would love to live in Montana!

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