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Black Friday: Golden Opportunity?

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On: Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 1:57PM | By: Karen Cook

Black Friday: Golden Opportunity?

Black Friday is almost upon us. Until I met my husband 17 years ago, I did not take part in the annual shopping frenzy. Sure, the sale prices are good, but the crowds were just too much for me. I like my shopping on the quieter side. My husband, on the other hand, takes a different approach. He doesn’t actually buy anything on Black Friday. For him it’s more of a spectator sport. We go to the mall, get a seasonally flavored coffee, and then just sit back and watch the chaos. From this point of view, it’s actually a lot of fun.

The mall is a great place to do this, but what about a car dealership? A lot in Texas decided it wasn’t fair that other shopping establishments got all the attention on this most important shopping day of the year. But you can’t put a car in a stocking, so how do you attract people? Back in 2008 Dan Minner, the used car manager at Sterling McCall Toyota in Houston, had an idea: Give shoppers a deal they can’t refuse and they will come.

Every year since 2008 people line up outside the dealership at 5 am waiting for the dealership to open at 7. Then there’s a scramble to get into the used vehicle of their choice and wait. At 9 am Mr. Minner walks around the used lot with a black marker and starts writing sale prices on the vehicles. 50 of them will be marked under $10,000. 10 of them will be marked under $1,000. But shoppers are hoping they are sitting in one of the three that will be marked $1! If you are one of the lucky few you have the choice to buy the car for a buck or pass it to whoever is sitting in the passenger seat.

All the cars have passed inspection and they are available for browsing before Black Friday. The dealership reports that it sells 35–40 percent of its used car inventory of 250–300 on just this one day. The $1 cars are usually about 10 years old, but the final decisions are made and kept secret by the manager so no one gets a hint or inside knowledge to gain the upper hand.

The annual sale has attracted local media coverage and more and more people each year. If this caught on here in Florida I might have to take my coffee to watch one of these Black Friday battles. Who knows, they might even sell me a car.


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