Unemployment still hovers around 9 percent, and the economy remains stale as the holiday shopping season approaches. While many are forced to cut back on their holiday shopping plans, others are using their entrepreneurial savvy to make a new profit-making niche out of the situation. Many out-of-work shopaholics are hiring themselves out as Black Friday shoppers, to do the waiting and fight the crowds for others with more money to spend than time.
Out of work teacher
Laurie Black is a 32-year-old preschool teacher from Auburn, Mass., who has been out of work for the last two years. She is only one of many this season who have posted ads on Craigslist offering their services as Black Friday shoppers. She offers her services for 15 percent of total purchases, and she will even accept prepaid Walmart gift cards.
Her ad reads, in part:
“I love shopping and love shopping for other people. Lets help each other shall we?”
History of Black Friday
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, which is also a holiday in 18 U.S. states. It is usually the busiest shopping day of the year. It is the day that officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Many stores offer unheard of sales and bargains to lure in shoppers. The most determined consumers will wait long hours in the cold outside of stores for a first chance at holiday bargains.
The term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia around 1966, where it first referred to the black marks left on sidewalks and highways because of the high-volume of shopper traffic. It came into broader use in the mid-1970s and came to mean the day when troubled retailers would turn a porfit, or go “in the black,” before the end of the year.
The day after Thanksgiving is a state holiday in Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
Melissa Wolford, a 27-year-old student at Lincoln University, has also offered her services as a Black Friday shopper. Wolford has a wedding-planning service that has soured with the economy.
According to Daily Finance, she said:
“I went from having a steady stream (of clients) to nothing. We’re a small town in a rural area. There’s not a lot of opportunities. …The economy is bad. (But) people want to be able to buy their family stuff and can’t afford regular prices. It’s the one time of the year you can shop for a big purchase.”