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I Really Suck at Black Friday Shopping

I bought a $100 T-shirt for full price... and then ended up in Times Square.

If you end up in Times Square on Black Friday, you’ve done something wrong.
Photo: George Rose/Getty Images

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I am very bad at sale shopping.

Too many times, when confronted with a sale or an item on markdown, I buy the thing only because the potential for future crushing disappointment and regret if I don’t is just too terrifying. And so I’ve learned that the best strategy — for me — is to avoid actively pursuing sales and instead hope that occasionally I stumble into things that I already like that happen to be marked down.

For this reason and many others, I had no plans to shop any of the many Black Friday sales that are now in full swing. But my sister-in-law is in NYC from Chicago this weekend — and she wants to shop. Because this sounded slightly better than the alternative agenda out-of-town visitors tend to push (ICE SKATING), we packed into the train and headed to the Union Square Holiday Market.

The market was crowded, but it had a festive vibe and smelled like cinnamon baked goods. I bought a $6 cat ornament for my tree and only witnessed one fight between a vendor and a tourist, so it was an overall positive experience.

After the market, we wandered up lower Fifth Avenue trying to figure out what to do next. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, Fifth Avenue between 14th Street and 23rd Street is essentially a mall without a roof over its head; all the basic stores are present. Cool workout wear was high on the list of desirables for my recently trimmed-down sister-in-law, so I pulled her into fancy activewear shop Bandier, something she can’t actually find at her local mall in the Chicago suburbs.

Advertising “25% off everything black,” Bandier was packed. And it sounded promising, because I pretty much only wear black activewear anyway. So I wandered over to the Monrow rack, a brand I am sure exists just to troll me. It’s everything I love — camo prints, star motifs, unflattering but extra soft sweatpants – priced at three times what it should be. I spied a tee in a faded-out gray camo print that cost $112. What kind of an asshole would spend that on a workout T-shirt when everything else in the world is on sale?


It wasn’t black, it wasn’t on sale, and yet, while my sister-in-law tried on those Alo moto leggings beloved by many a famous skinny person, I slunk over to the counter and bought the shirt.

There are, it turns out, perks to being this particular kind of asshole. After asking me what size leggings I wear, the saleswoman handed me a large nylon Bandier tote, telling me that I was one of the first 50 people in the store to spend “over a certain amount,” making me eligible for a goodie bag.

Inside were a pair of semi-gaudy Bandier-branded Terez leggings ($78) and a bunch of beauty products including a sample of Oribe dry shampoo, two Frank body scrubs, a full size Make Up For Ever lipstick, two Epicuren anti-aging lip balms, an S.W. Basics exfoliant, and a packet of protein powder. It was an admittedly stellar beauty haul, and that’s coming from someone whose job it is to try all the free beauty products under the sun.

But lest you think I’d fully recovered from my full-priced shame, I doubled down and landed in Times Square, which is hell on Earth on a random Tuesday morning, let alone Black Friday, and promptly dropped $85 on bowling. Happy holidays!