Call us sentimental old fools, but we like to sit around, slowly sipping a cup 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. Not everything old deserves your respect! 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
Ten years ago, RadioShack really thought they'd win your Black Friday dollars with a Cinevision DVD-VCR 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
Nine years ago, Walmart thought you would 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" Flat CRT television set, which, to our 2014, LCD flat-panel eyes, just seems barbaric. Even in 2004, LCDs were on the rise (they overtook CRT sales in 2007). Amusingly, Walmart also used Will & Grace Season 1 on DVD for $12.99 as a lure for Black Friday shoppers which, to our 2014, Netflix-watching eyes, just seems barbaric!
Black Friday 2005: Silly Storage and Dancing Robots
The iPod arrived in 2001, ushering in the digital age of music. By 2005, many of us were not even listening to CDs as a music-delivery system, but we were still using them to archive old documents. Madness! However, nine years ago, there was no "Cloud" and we had no choice. That's why, at the time, it wasn't super strange for one of Staples' Black Friday deals to be an HP CD-R Media 100-Pack for $14.94. At only $0.15 per disc, it sounded like a super-cheap deal — until you realized that most of them would get messed up during the burning process and become nothing more than coasters. How did we ever manage to survive these dark times?
Staples also notably offered a Maxtor 200GB Internal Hard Drive for $29.94. Remember: A regular person living in 2005 would have said, "Sweet! There's no way I could fill up that much space!" Well, time makes liars of us all. And 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! (Provided you don't care about audio quality or faithful digital reproduction at all!) We again shake our head at how hard life used to be, even though we thought we were so futuristic.
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 it offered the Robosapien for $39.99. Were we ever so simple as a people to believe that the pinnacle of robotics was this mechanical dancing monkey? "Look, we'll investigate their use as caregivers for the elderly later. For now, let's focus on programming them to bust a move!"
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?)
As was already mentioned, 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.
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.
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. 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 six years ago that the world was introduced to the joys and horrors of the split skateboard. 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 realizing they'd be spending Christmas night in the ER? It's the gift that keeps on giving (your child concussions).
Fortunately, that year you could have picked up the Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder for $129.99 from Staples to record your child's epic wipeout. Remember that 2008 was already several years into the Flip Cam's lifespan — and several years from its decline — but they were still selling like hot cakes. And why wouldn't they? They seemed like a good idea before we all had smartphones that took better video. (And before we all realized that we would never remember to put a video camera in our pocket each day before leaving the house.)
Despite the fact that Black Friday, historically, has not been the best time to buy toys (though that's all about to change, this year), everyone always thought that it was, so merchants would gladly pander to that assumption. However, in 2008, Toys "R" Us must have forgotten that, because one of its deals was: an AM/FM Clock Radio for $4.99. The only thing "fun" about it was that it came in purple — the fourth most fun color, as voted on by our office. 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 might have been 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 old olden-days, we can conclusively say that people sure bought and sold some terrible tech back then! Surely the people of 2024 won't be looking back at us in 2014 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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