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18 Hilariously Lame 'Doorbusters' From Black Fridays Past

Remember that time Toys "R" Us offered us a Black Friday alarm clock? Or when Walmart slashed an astonishing 75 cents off the Nintendo Wii? Oh, fond memories!
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Call us sentimental old fools, but we like to sit around, sipping a mug of herbal tea and reminiscing about the "good old days," when things were simpler. You know, 2003? See, back then, Black Friday wasn't as big of a deal as it is today, but merchants still tried to entice people to line up in front of their stores in the early AM.

Many of those olden-timey deals, in hindsight, were (and are still) ridiculous, just proving that not everything old deserves your respect! (Sorry grandma!) So, let's take a look at these historical (hysterical?) Black Friday "deals" from back-in-the-day — and mock them cruelly.

Black Friday 2003: Check the Tape

Over a decade ago, RadioShack (which was still a place that people shopped at, like, for realsies) honestly believed that you would part with your Black Friday dollars if they offered a DVD-VCR combo for $119.99. Heck, these days, you won't pay that much for a Blu-ray player ... with 3D capabilities ... and WiFi!

Also worth remembering is that by 2003, VHS had already been solidly replaced by DVDs, so this promo is even more mind-boggling. It could be argued that this deal was aimed at the "we still have our kids' old dance recitals on VHS and want to bring out the tapes any time they bring home a new boyfriend" market — you know, your mom and dad.

Black Friday 2004: Must-See CRT

Eleven years ago, Walmart thought you'd be tempted to wait outside in the cold for hours to get your hands on an HP Pavilion Computer for $498. What made it a smokin' deal? It came bundled with a 17" CRT television set, which, to our 2015, LCD flat-panel eyes, just seems barbaric. Even in 2004, LCDs were on the rise (though they wouldn't overtake CRT sales until 2007).

Amusingly, Walmart also used Will & Grace Season 1 on DVD for $12.99 as a lure for Black Friday shoppers which, to our 2015, Netflix-watching eyes, just seems barbaric!


Black Friday 2005: Silly Storage and Dancing Robots

In 2005, Staples notably offered a Maxtor 200GB Internal Hard Drive for $29.94, which would have made a regular person living then say, "Sweet! There's no way I could fill up that much space!" Well, time has made liars of us all, as we fill up terabytes of space and worry about running out.

Speaking of amusing storage capacities, the office supply store also offered a Palm E Handheld Device bundled with a Creative 256MB MP3 Player for $149.94. Excitingly, that MP3 player touted it could hold over 100 songs! We again shake our head at how hard life used to be, even though we thought we were so futuristic. (And, yes, we're just going to glance over the fact that the Palm E was a thing.)

Were we ever so simple, as a nation, that we believed the pinnacle of robotics technology was this mechanical dancing monkey?

It should be noted that as we scanned these ancient ads, we were shocked to see that Linens 'n Things stores... well, still existed, but also that they offered the Robosapien for $39.99. Were we ever so simple as a nation that we believed the pinnacle of robotics technology was this mechanical dancing monkey? "Look, we'll investigate their use as caregivers for the elderly later. For now, let's tweak the booty-shakin' algorithm!"


Listening to a CD

Black Friday 2006: Put All Your Money in CDs

The year was 2006 and Circuit City offered a Canon Mini DVD Digital Camcorder for $349.99 to lure shoppers into their stores. Apparently we used to think recording video directly onto a DVD was the way of the future? (And $350 seemed like a "bargain" to do so?)

Moreover, the iPod was already on the market for five years by the time Circuit City was going to sell the Memorex Portable Personal CD Player for $9.99 during Black Friday 2006. Quite a steal — as long as you overlooked the digital music revolution.


Shaun of the Dead HD-DVD
Walmart

Black Friday 2007: Shaun of the Dead Formats

Media store f.y.e. thought we'd all love to buy Shaun of the Dead on HD-DVD for $16.99. Try not to laugh too hard at this sale, because even though Blu-ray was clearly winning the format war, the retailer probably didn't know the HD-DVD Group would officially kill off the format just three months later.

Speaking of dead formats: That year, Target stepped up to the Black Friday plate and took a swing at offering a Dane-Elec 512MB Secure Digital Card for $7.97. In today's terms, that's an astonishing $15.94 per GB.

Finish Line's Black Friday promo touted Heely's for $30, which was the cheapest way for your kid to get from point A to the hospital.

The year 2007 was when stores started to really push digital picture frames on Black Friday. Several years later, a study would find that everyone hates them. Yet, we all thought they would make excellent gifts, so it's just another of those weird glitches in America's history, where everyone buys something, even though we should all know better. Like dancing Coca-Cola cans, "Bazinga" T-shirts, or (also from 2007) wheeled shoes for kids! Yep, part of Finish Line's Black Friday promo touted Heely's for $29.99 each, which was the cheapest way for your kid to get from point A to the hospital.

Something else that tickled our post-Thanksgiving wishbone in 2007 were the multiple stores that had deals on "candy bar" cell phones. The Apple iPhone had just been announced, essentially making every other cell phone ("deal" or not) look like a steamy pile of... stuffing. But that didn't mean the stores wouldn't give it the ole' college try. For instance, Best Buy was hawking the Verizon LG Chocolate Cell Phone for $49.99 and, at the time, that was about as desirable as non-iPhone cell phones got. It didn't have a mobile web browser in it or run apps at all! Ah, simpler times.


Black Friday 2008: America's Funniest Home Injuries

It was just seven years ago that the world was introduced to the joys and horrors of the split skateboard — the manual kind, not this new-fangled "hoverboard" thing. Twice as hard to ride as a normal skateboard, the two-piece Razor RipStik Caster Board was one of Target's Black Friday deals that year and was sold for $59. We wonder how many kids woke up on Christmas morning expecting they'd be spending Christmas night in the ER? It's the gift that keeps on giving (your child concussions).

Remember the time Toys "R" Us offered an AM/FM clock radio in its Black Friday ad?

Usually merchants use Black Friday as a platform to show off their toys and get parents to buy holiday gifts for their tots. But then there was that time in 2008, when Toys "R" Us offered an AM/FM clock radio for $4.99. The only thing "fun" about it was that it came in purple (which, as everyone knows is only the fourth most fun color, according to "Fun Colors Digest"). Now, sure, $4.99 was — and is — a great price, but it's still the most boring gift you could ever give a child.

A slightly better gift idea? The High School Musical Bike for $69 at Walmart, but what parent would have been willing to wait in line for that? After all, it was the High School Musical 3 bike and not, like, based on one of the good High School Musicals. Alternatively, Walmart actually was one of the first stores to offer a discount on the Nintendo Wii, selling it for $249.24; remember, $249.99 was its list price. Talk about savings!

After looking back on the olden days, we can conclusively say that people sure bought and sold some terrible tech back then! Surely the people of 2025 won't be looking back at us in 2015 and saying the same thing... right?

Either way, we hope you enjoyed this non-sentimental, eye-rolling trip down Black Friday Memory Lane. Care to share with us the most hilarious Black Friday deal you were ever proud to have snagged? We'd love to know, so tell us in the comments below!


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Marketing Communications Manager

Jeff Somogyi is the DealNews Marketing Communications Manager. Since working here he's written deals, features, promotional and newsletter copy, blog posts, as well as scripts for our videos. Follow him on Google+, Twitter at @sommerjam or his blog.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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10 comments
Greg the Gruesome
@Jonathan Y: I imagine the lack of a tuner is a good thing for people who have cable or satellite TV service and would get confused by a tuner in the recorder when trying to program the thing to record.
Jonathan Y (DealNews)
Tuner-free was a selling point? Maybe they should offer one with zero inputs as well. :p
Greg the Gruesome
As I was channel surfing earlier tonight, I saw an Emerson DVD/VHS combo on HSN. It upconverts DVDs and can record to a DVD. The presenter touted it as "tuner-free" and I assume it doesn't record to VHS. Price: $179.95 with free shipping.
Ardbeg
Radio Shack was in an impossible place; as electronics miniaturized they became hard to customize/repair/modify. The demand for switches, transistors, etc., dropped and the margins weren't enough to support the retail space. And the sort of nerd staff they relied on in the 80s can now all get 75k+ jobs in the tech/computer industry. Their name was an albatross that hurt their cred in selling modern tech and their footprint was too small to compete with Best Buy or even Walmart on selection, except in cell phones.

I'm not sure what they could have done to survive, short of a complete rebranding, perhaps becoming the Samsung equivalent of an Apple Store. I can get most things they carried on Amazon for a similar pricce, but it was nice to be working on a Saturday project (say, retrofiting an aux input to my car stereo), realize a part was missing/broken, and be able to run to RS and finish that day.
Jonathan Y (DealNews)
The first computer I had was a 486/33 system, so I understand where you're coming from, Vash The Stampede.
LonnieMcClure
No doubt I was one of the purchasers of that 200GB Maxtor drive for $29.94. Back in those days it seemed I was upgrading my hard drive capacity every few months.
Vash The Stampede
I agree with the previous comments about Radio Shack. I'm a amateur radio operator and my radio equipment is 99% Radio Shack brand. Anyone remember when they had the TechAmerica line? They lost their way when the stores changed to cellphone shack and only hired clueless staff. They deserve to go away.

I bought a laptop last year cyber Monday for less than it cost me to upgrade the RAM in my 486DX2/66 (that's a desktop computer for you young people) from 4megs to 8megs. There have a good laugh at the way technology has advanced.
Greg the Gruesome
In 2003, didn't we still have to use VCRs to time-shift TV shows? And even now, "non-smart" cell phones have their place.
bkaupp
radio shack went under because they chose to stop catering to just the folks who found it so wonderful. Last time I went in there looking for a CB antenna, the person behind the counter had never heard of one. Their selection of switches and wire were hidden, and the staff was absolutely clueless. That was 5 years ago. I don't miss it.
EonStorm
I find it galling that you chose to make fun of Radio Shack. It provided a very unique service for many places and people and a product that could not normally be found except via that venue. The loss of the chain stores should be lamented, along with all of the book stores that are closing.