I am possibly the lamest shopper in the history of this consumer-mad society. I didn’t even know what Black Friday was until a few years ago when an editor sent me out to do a story on shoppers that day. Things haven’t improved by much judging by my futile, some would say naive, attempt to cash in on a bargain displayed in the mountain of glossy ad inserts contained in Friday’s papers. (WalMart’s insert was more like a friggin catalogue and rivaled the thickness of post Thanksgiving newspapers.) At about 11 a.m. I called a store about the item I looking for (I can’t give the secret away) and the clerk laughed at my question whether the item was still available. So I called two more and got the same response. OK fine, but I refuse to spend the night outside a store no matter how good the bargain is. (Does anyone remember when people camped outside for Ramone tickets instead of a sale?) Oakland indie merchants are taking an alternative approach: Plaid Friday. They are offering discounts and specials as a way to avoid the big box retailers that gobble up dollars. The money spent at Oakland stores stays local and it’s safer than getting trampled by shoppers stampeding their way to big screen TVs. And Penelope’s is hosting an after-shopping party with special $3 shots, $6 cocktails and $6 tamale plates from La Borinquena until 11 p.m. Wear plaid and receive a 1 cent Indie Special shot. I am heading to the Compound Studios and Gallery where the artists are getting into the spirit.