Under most circumstances, pregnant women get special treatment: a seat on a crowded bus, closer parking spots at shopping malls or a bump to the head of the line at public restrooms.
But that’s most circumstances. Black Friday isn’t most circumstances.
“They’re going to say, ‘Take her out. She’s the weak one,’” predicted Jessica McGinley, who at 36-weeks pregnant, plans to be out shopping with the best of them when Black Friday sales start on Thanksgiving night.
Even with her baby due Dec. 20, McGinley said she didn’t want to miss out on what has become a family tradition between she and her sister, as well as two of her sisters in law.
The tradition hatched about three years ago when someone — no one quite remembers who — casually suggested getting a toy from when it opened after Thanksgiving dinner.
Before the women knew it, the stop for the single toy turned into an all-night shopping extravaganza.
“We were like, ‘What’s next?’ We kept going and going, and soon it was 6 a.m.,” McGinley said.
As soon as the family Thanksgiving dinner is over this year, they’ll head back to Darien from Gilberts, IL, which is out past Elgin.
The group plans to start at Toys ‘R Us at 9 p.m. Thursday, followed by at 10 p.m. and finishing with Target at 12 a.m. They may sneak in a trip to as well.
Black Friday shopping has become a bonding experience for the women, who help each other seek out the items on their lists.
“It’s one of the only days of the year we get to shopping without the kids, and we get so excited talking about how excited the kids are going to be when they get their presents,” said Stephanie Sumner, McGinley’s sister.
Tops on her list this year are (spoiler alert for Sumner’s mother in law) a netbook that normally runs about $200 and is on sale for $75.
McGinley is looking forward to getting iPod Touches for her two older children, Brandon, 5, and Katelyn, 4.
Her husband, Keith, also gets in on the Black Friday action and plans on picking up where McGinley leaves off when opens at 5 a.m.
Though they take their shopping seriously, McGinley said the group sees Black Friday as something that is fun rather than competitive.
In past years, Sumner said the women have stopped for snacks at Denny’s in between stores, and they always look out for each other amid the madness.
It will be part of their duty this year to keep a special eye on McGinley, she said.
“That’s where I come in,” she said. “It will be good to help her out and make sure her kids get everything.”
Part of the fun for them is seeing how aggressive some people become.
“It’s the least friendly form of shopping, for sure,” McGinley said.
McGinley said the police were called to Target last year because of the stampede of deal hunters who pushed through the doors at midnight. Some shoppers wear matching T-shirts and take off running in a coordinated plan of attack as soon as the doors open.
Because of her pregnancy, she said she plans to take things pretty easy this year.
“I’m just going to mosey along behind and hope no one shoves me over,” she said.
Though McGinley does have a backup plan if the crowd starts to get a little too wild.
“I could pretend my water broke,” she joked. After a beat, she lamented, “But they’d just push me down.”