Did you stay up til midnight camping out at Toys R Us? Hit the Disney Store at 6am? Or skip the Force Awakens’ big retail debut entirely?
Force Friday is almost officially over here on the east coast. While there’s a few hours left of the day, most of the stores are closing up for the night, many with basically empty stretches of aisle in which the new Force Awakens products were set up less than 24 hours ago.
Like, seriously– I hit a few Toys R Us stores, a couple Targets, a few Wal-Marts and two Kohl’s… pretty close to all of them blew through at least half of their Force Awakens inventory in a single day! I was impressed by the degree of sell through at most stores, but what really made me happy was the sense of community that came out of this event. The midnight opening at Toys R Us could have been a shit show, with fanboys fighting one another to lay claim to whatever they wanted most… that same weird, passive aggressive and socially awkward competitive streak that rears its ugly head each year at Comic Con.
But in my experience, every adult person who lined up outside a toy store at 1130 at night to buy toys meant for children was actually well balanced, respectful and decidedly normal. When the doors opened, nobody ran or pushed or shoved to be first. We all walked to the aisle, grabbed what we needed, and offered to reach for things for the person standing next to us. I got the last 3.75″ Captain Phasma because a dude accidentally grabbed two of them, then asked if anybody needed her. Next to me was a kid, maybe 12 if even, dressed in a clone trooper costume, with an armload of figures. His dad (who was dressed in a Boba Fett costume, BTW) asked if he was missing anybody and the kid said they ran out of Stormtroopers. I gave him the one in my cart so he could complete his set, because c’mon– the dude stayed up late, dressed as a goddamn Star Wars character. He earned it.
There was a lot of cool little interactions like that. I can’t remember the last time I got into as many random conversations with total strangers as I did today. Every time I turned down the action figure aisle, there was a new person there with their own story about what Star Wars meant to them, about how they’re passing it along to their kids, or how we negotiate such a nerdy obsession with less geeky significant others. I bought a lot of stuff, and a lot of it is really cool. But that’s not what is going to stick with me in terms of Force Friday. It’s the conversations, the new people I met, many of whom I probably wouldn’t even consider engaging with if not for this shared, silly common ground based in fables involving space ships and laser swords.
I had a blast, and even if the entire experience was part of Disney’s evil master plan, it worked, because I’m ending the day with an even stronger sense of goodwill and positivity toward a franchise that, up to about a year ago, I had been so burned on I thought I’d never come back. But like Han said in that first trailer… “Chewie, we’re home.” And it feels pretty great.
So how was your day? Did you go out? Go crazy? Buy a ton of cool Force Awakens junk? Meet any cool new people? I want to see photos of your haul and hear your best Force Friday stories. If you want to share, Click Here to hit our Facebook page and post your pics, stories, and whatever else Force Friday had in store for you!