On early Wednesday evening I noticed four tents were pitched in a line in front of my local Best Buy, and I decided to do some journamalizing. It turned out the first tent at this Black Friday base camp was occupied by a couple of college students. One was a 23-year-old architecture grad student at the University of Denver; his girlfriend was a 21-year-old biochemistry major at CU-Boulder. Other fascinating factoids:
(1) They had arrived on Tuesday morning, i.e, about 63 hours ahead of Best Buy’s midnight opening. The second tent in the line was pitched on Tuesday night.
(2) Their primary goals involved acquiring a 55-inch TV for $450, and a Tablet for $179. Also they wanted to get some camera stuff.
(3) They had spent the last two days, and were going to spend Thanksgiving, eating a diet consisting mostly of Ramen noodles, prepared with a camping stove.
(4) They had purchased both the tent (for $110) and the stove (price unknown) for the purposes of this trek.
(5) Last night had been the first night that either of them had ever slept in a tent.
(6) In years past they had gone to Black Friday midnight openings several hours in advance, but always found themselves far back in the line. This year they decided they would do whatever they had to do to avoid this fate.
(7) A few months ago the the city of Denver tried, with how much success I’m not sure, to kick Occupy Denver out of City Park, on the grounds that the protesters didn’t have the appropriate permits for overnight camping. Update: What I was vaguely recalling was this ordinance, which made overnight camping — but not sleeping on the street! — in public places in Denver a crime.
I realize that interviewing people like this couple and writing about it is part of a process of media framing that turns lining up days in advance for Black Friday into a news “event” (or pseudo-event), which in turn helps create social understandings and expectations that in turn shape the behavior of the people the media are interviewing. All very self-referential and pomo and all that.