Black Friday Is Coming: 19th Century Shopping Etiquette

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#1
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(Courtesy of The Victorian Life.)
It seems the phrase, Black Friday, may have first been used in Philadelphia to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that occurred on the day after Thanksgiving. The term has now become almost synonymous with shopping mayhem.

Well apparently our Victorian friends also dealt with frantic and rude holiday shoppers. This list originally appeared in the 19th-century book, Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms, in 1891.


Do not take hold of a piece of goods which another is examining. Wait until it is replaced upon the counter before you take it up.

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Injuring goods when handling, pushing aside other persons, hanging upon the counter, whispering, loud talk and laughter, when in a store, are all evidence of ill-breeding.

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Never attempt to "beat down" prices when shopping. If the price does not suit, go elsewhere. The just and upright merchant will have but one price for his goods, and he will strictly adhere to it.

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It is an insult to a clerk or merchant to suggest to a customer about to purchase that may buy cheaper or better elsewhere. It is also rude to give your opinion, unasked, about the goods that another is purchasing.

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Never expect a clerk to leave another customer to wait on you; and, when attending upon you, do not cause him to wait while you visit with another. When the purchases are made let them be sent to your home, and thus avoid loading yourself with bundles.

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Treat clerks, when shopping, respectfully, and give them no more trouble than is necessary. Ask for what is wanted, explicitly, and if you wish to make examination with a view to future purchase, say so. Be perfectly frank. There is no necessity in practicing deceit.

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The rule should be to pay for goods when you buy them. If, however, you are trusted by the merchant, you should be very particular to pay your indebtedness when you agree to. By doing as you promise, you acquire good habits of promptitude, and at the same time establish credit and make reputation among those with whom you deal.

***​

It is rude in the extreme to find fault and to make sneering remarks about goods. To draw unfavorable comparisons between the goods and those found at other stores does no good, and shows want of deference and respect to those who are waiting on you. Politely state that the goods are not what you want, and, while you may buy, you prefer to look further.



 

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AshleyMel

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#2
My, how times have changed!
My family stays home on black Friday (except last year, Hubby just had to have a new T.V. I told him to have fun with that, I was going to have another piece of pie.). It's just too much sugar for a nickel for me!
 
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#3
My, how times have changed!
My family stays home on black Friday (except last year, Hubby just had to have a new T.V. I told him to have fun with that, I was going to have another piece of pie.). It's just too much sugar for a nickel for me!
I don't venture out either. As a matter of fact I try to avoid the mall and shopping center after Thanksgiving. Since my Christmas list is short, I'm able to finish beforehand. Nothing would rob me of my Christmas spirit faster than fighting (figuratively speaking of course) over a parking space or a half price sweater. However, I do have some friends who attack the stores on Black Friday every year. They plot and plan and attack at dawn. Just like Harry Heath, they're usually looking for some shoes.
 
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#5
My daughter-in-law and her mother went out in the pre-dawn darkness on Black Friday last year (I think it was about 5 am) and had a wonderful time! I, however, am one of those who avoid Black Friday like the plague. I do most of my holiday shopping online. For the rest, I hit the stores in the mornings mid-week. Being retired has its rewards!

Those etiquette rules are still applicable, except perhaps for the next to last one. Modern credit card companies have their own methods of punishing those who don't pay, with excessive penalties and usurious interest rates!
 

Zella

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#8
Just like Harry Heath, they're usually looking for some shoes.
:roflmao:

I find it hilarious--and a bit sad--that our 19th century ancestors were just as in need of reminders not to assault each other while shopping.

I don't Black Friday shop in stores. But I do score online deals. Last year, I got some really nice women's combat boots that actually fit my ginormous feet for half price. It was such a good deal I got two pairs in two different colors. :giggle: General Heth would approve, I think.

This year, I have my eye on a heavily discounted cell phone to replace the ancient one I currently own.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Boy, what a wonderful thing for 2018! Posting a reminder on a store door would be really helpful. Well, mostly- have a feeling some folks would complain all about our right to be jerks while shopping, it's a free country.

Goodness, could you imagine being a checkout/clerk on Black Friday? You'd spend your overtime on Kevlar, for next year.

You know what's nice ( and off thread, sorry )? Some stores have balked at shoving back Black Friday into Thanksgiving Thursday. Retailors seemed to be making the attempt to turn Thanksgiving Day into Thankfully Cheap Day at the mall. Between allowing workers their day at home and breaking up one of only a few days we center around family, it is a bit much. In fact, generally won't buy from companies that do this to Thanksgiving Day. Very cool last year to see various stores make the announcement they would not participate.
 

Zella

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Goodness, could you imagine being a checkout/clerk on Black Friday? You'd spend your overtime on Kevlar, for next year.
:roflmao:


You know what's nice ( and off thread, sorry )? Some stores have balked at shoving back Black Friday into Thanksgiving Thursday. Retailors seemed to be making the attempt to turn Thanksgiving Day into Thankfully Cheap Day at the mall. Between allowing workers their day at home and breaking up one of only a few days we center around family, it is a bit much. In fact, generally won't buy from companies that do this to Thanksgiving Day. Very cool last year to see various stores make the announcement they would not participate.
It also makes me uncomfortable when they do that to their employees. I have a friend who insists that if they're going to be there, you might as well go since they're already there. But I think it runs the other way just as much--they're there because people are there. I just read that sentence and am not sure it makes sense. :laugh: But I do think shopping at that time just eggs the retailers on because it makes their decision seem justified.
 
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#12
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It seems Christmas shopping blossomed in the 1870s and 1880s. While gifts had previously played a relatively modest role, they now became a focal point of the holiday. This quickly became controversial because some viewed this as a materialistic perversion of a holy day. Sound familiar?

Of course this concern didn’t slow the growth of Christmas commerce in the late 1800s any more than it has in the 21st century. Christmas shopping (gift-giving) remains the single most important sector of our consumer economy. Starting in the late 1850s, merchants began making a concerted effort to reshape the holidays to their financial advantage. For example, many Victorian gift-givers still preferred handmade gifts over purchased ones. Thus retailers responded by marketing partially assembled goods to which givers applied the finishing touches.
 
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#13
Ladies_Mile_New_York_1898.jpg

Ladies in New York, circa 1898.
In 1858, the first department store in America, Macy’s, was founded. This was the beginning of the commercialization of the holidays and the commonly accepted idea that gifts signified love.

Love is the moral of Christmas…What are gifts but the proof and signs of love?”
– Harper’s Magazine, 1856


 
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JPK Huson 1863

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But I think it runs the other way just as much--they're there because people are there. I just read that sentence and am not sure it makes sense. :laugh: But I do think shopping at that time just eggs the retailers on because it makes their decision seem justified.

Yes, exactly. Last year a few major retailors refused to open Thanksgiving Day, making a point of advertising that decision. It really was nice to see, and boy, as a customer I'll also make a point of shopping anywhere with that policy.

Is ' Cyber Monday ' still a ' thing '? Like Black Friday just on the following Monday, you could get amazing deals shopping online. May have been a bust in PA- first day of deer season!
 

Northern Light

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:roflmao:



It also makes me uncomfortable when they do that to their employees. I have a friend who insists that if they're going to be there, you might as well go since they're already there. But I think it runs the other way just as much--they're there because people are there. I just read that sentence and am not sure it makes sense. :laugh: But I do think shopping at that time just eggs the retailers on because it makes their decision seem justified.
I agree with you. If the stores are not open, people will find other things to do, like stuff themselves silly.:D For years here in the Frozen North, all the stores were closed on Sunday. Now they are open, but I never go unless it is a dire emergency, because most people are not shopping so much as "visiting, and clogging up the aisles whilst they chat with friends and neighbours that they cannot be bothered to visit or telephone for the rest of the week. It drives me crazy when I am only dashing in for a pint of whipping cream or a brunch of broccoli! I usually send my husband, who doesn't mind spending two hours chatting while buying a single item!:nah disagree::frog:
 

Northern Light

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I think shopping became popular with women because it was one of the few times that women were allowed to get out of the house. Imagine the release of kicking the apron to the corner, picking up your bonnet and leaving the house for an hour of browsing through the local shop or driving into town to where there might be two or more stores. Talking to people who weren't demanding meals or fighting with their siblings must have been a real treat! Even if you only bought a piece of ribbon or a piece of penny candy, it was freedom!
 

AnnaLee

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#18
I, however, am one of those who avoid Black Friday like the plague. I do most of my holiday shopping online. For the rest, I hit the stores in the mornings mid-week. Being retired has its rewards!
Amen! You couldn't pay me enough to get out in that crowd. My daughter loves shopping in the chaos but like you, MaryDee, I do most of my shopping online.
 

Zella

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Yes, exactly. Last year a few major retailors refused to open Thanksgiving Day, making a point of advertising that decision. It really was nice to see, and boy, as a customer I'll also make a point of shopping anywhere with that policy.

Is ' Cyber Monday ' still a ' thing '? Like Black Friday just on the following Monday, you could get amazing deals shopping online.
It's funny--I was wondering if it was still a thing myself this week. It seems to be, but it doesn't seem to get advertised or promoted as much as it was a few years ago. Or I don't notice the advertising--every ad man's worst nightmare. Maybe because a lot of online retailers have tried to latch onto Black Friday's coat tails?

May have been a bust in PA- first day of deer season!
:roflmao:

About half the workforce here either magically becomes sick or conveniently has vacation scheduled for the first weeks of fishing and hunting season. :giggle:
 

Zella

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I agree with you. If the stores are not open, people will find other things to do, like stuff themselves silly.:D For years here in the Frozen North, all the stores were closed on Sunday. Now they are open, but I never go unless it is a dire emergency, because most people are not shopping so much as "visiting, and clogging up the aisles whilst they chat with friends and neighbours that they cannot be bothered to visit or telephone for the rest of the week. It drives me crazy when I am only dashing in for a pint of whipping cream or a brunch of broccoli! I usually send my husband, who doesn't mind spending two hours chatting while buying a single item!:nah disagree::frog:
I'm not above strategically timing grocery story runs to days and times when I know nobody I know is there. :angel:
 

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