Black Friday, meet Brown Shopper

Edith Sampayan leaving Woodbury Commons with Black Friday bargains. Photo by R Sonny Sampayan

By Elton Lugay

They came without sleep, and brought their friends, families and credit cards. Filipino shoppers barreled their way into Black Friday malls with abundant energy, patience and a well of good humor and shopped till — someone pleaded with them to stop.

“Black Friday survivor!” writes Unicef’s Pam Santos on her Facebook wall. “I am now 80% done with holiday shopping.”

Pam shopped at Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island starting at 9 a.m., which was “late” by Black Friday standards. She was done after four hours. She came with her 7-year-old son who offered another pair of hands to hold the shopping bags.

Another shopping marathoner, Edith Sampayan, said she just bought a few items.

“I need to control my spending,” she said laughing, coming out of Woodbury Commons Mall with bags full of merchandise from Michael Kors, Ferragamo, Esprit and Gap. “Pero sarap talaga mag shopping with all the sales and discounts.”

For Dawn Salipot, a hairstylist from Queens, Black Friday was a bargains orgy.

“I bought some bras from H&M and for $5 apiece, it was worth waiting in line for almost an hour,” she said. “You won’t feel the long wait especially when you see so many bargain-hunters crowding the store. After all, this is what Black Friday midnight madness is about.”

Value-for-money shopping is very much the American way of life. To many Filipinos who take pride in being able to stretch the dollar, Black Friday — where the malls cut down prices as much as 70 percent — is ideal even if it meant waiting at dawn for the stores to open. Black Friday has become like the spectator sport for avid bargain hunters, including one woman reported to have used pepper spray so she could get ahead of the line.

“Grabe, wala akong tulog,” said Edith. “Bawi na lang ako the following day.”

This orderly line leads to Best Buy. Photo by Elton Lugay

At the Queens Center Mall where many FilAms from Woodside, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst shopped, the situation was generally peaceful and orderly. Stores like Target, Best Buy and Kohl’s were jammed.

“We knew it was going to be chaotic, but we still went,” said housewife Myrna Sison. “There were really good buys like a Black and Decker rice cooker for $10 and down comforters at $60.”

A FilAm had an unfavorable experience with bait-and-switch at Best Buy. He was trying to buy an Asus Transformer tablet at $249 when he learned the floor model was different from the item advertised in the papers.

The National Retail Federation reported a 7 percent increase in Black Friday sales from last year, with shoppers taking advantage of promos, rebates and other deals.

“Everyone was having fun looking for bargains,” said Emerson Sison, a fast-food waiter from Roosevelt Avenue. “It’s just like Simbang Gabi—everybody was out at midnight, but instead of going to the church, we all went to the mall.”

Elton Lugay is a journalist, publicist and community events organizer.


  1. Maricel wrote:

    Saved, I really like your site! 🙂

  2. Neil Warren wrote:

    Amazing article.

  3. James D. wrote:

    They came with their passion and energy that only Black Friday shoppers are capable of.

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