Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Second Day of Christmas

Day 2: Black Friday Tips &Tricks

I didn't grow up with a Black Friday shopping Mama. In fact, the first year I went shopping early on Black Friday, my sister and I decided to go, and our mom insisted we were crazy. And even though we tried to be quiet as we were getting ready, we managed to wake Mom up. And then she wanted to go with us. :)

This was several years ago. And I've been a faithful Black Friday shopper ever since.

Two years ago, LeRae introduced me to a wonderful Black Friday site: Black Friday @ Gotta Deal. They get leaked Black Friday ads, and someone there takes the time to type up all the deals for a particular retailer, and they scan images of the actual ad. When you click on a retailer on their site, you'll see a list of all the items listed in the ad, arranged by department. You can also choose to sort by price, early bird items or alphabetically. Then you just click on the camera icon, and you can view the actual scan from the ad. You can also sign up for email alerts every time a new ad is posted on the site. You better believe I get those alerts! I love being able to preview what will be on sale, as it helps me get an idea of what retailers I might want to hit early in the morning the day after Thanksgiving.  {I genuinely love this website. They don't know I'm posting about them, and I receive no compensation for my recommendation.}

On Thanksgiving Day, I always secure a newspaper. (Side note, I work for a newspaper company, and we have a press in the building I work in. For a few weeks now, Black Friday ads have been filling up the floor space in the packaging center. I like my job, so I don't risk it by trying to bust out an ad to browse, but it sure is tempting! I've seen pallets with Kohl's, Belk & Bass Pro Shop ads on them. LOVE IT. By Tuesday of next week, you'll hardly be able to walk around the packaging center because of all the ads. Seeing that room fill up with good deals might be my favorite thing about working here...) Anyway, here's the process once I have a newspaper in hand:

Thanksgiving Day
  1. Have shopping list handy.
  2. Pull all the ads out of the paper. Pile together.
  3. Split pile in two (I usually sort with either my sister or MIL, depending on where we are spending the holiday)
  4. Browse ads. Make "keeper" pile and "discard" pile. 
  5. Swap "discard" piles with fellow sorter. 
  6. Once we have browsed all the ads, we re-address "keeper" pile. 
  7. Mark items that we WANT in the ads in the "keeper" pile. Make new "keeper" pile. Discard any additional unwanted ads. 
  8. Arrange ads from the new "keeper" pile in order of opening time. 
  9. Assess all items on shopping list in relation to opening time. The most-wanted item goes on the top of the list. Even if other retailers open earlier, the biggest bargain gets priority. 
  10. Decide on order of shopping, based on locations, opening times and level of desire to procure item.
  11. Decide on departure time, based on target arrival time for first retailer. 
  12. Put all ads for stores you will visit by the door--be sure to take the ads with you!
  13. Go to bed early!
Black Friday
  1. Wake up. No time to shower. Find a hat. Eat a quick breakfast. Grab coffee. Load into car. Make sure you have ads with you. (Depending on where you live and how long you intend to wait in line outside the store, dress warmly! Hats/scarves/gloves/heavy coats are important if you will be outside in the cold for a few hours!) Also, make sure all members of your shopping party have cell phones!
  2. Arrive at first retailer. Grab ad for that store. Get in line.
  3. While in line, if you can see inside the store, try to get an idea of where your coveted item is located. If you aren't sure, and you're going after just one item, you may want to split up once you get inside to be sure you get to the item before they are all gone!
  4. Make a beeline to your item! If you have a long list of stores you want to visit, it's best to get in and out of each store as quickly as possible. 
  5. Rinse and repeat for each additional store. Chances are, you'll only have to wait in line for your first store. 
General Tips:
  • Don't be a jerk. Sometimes you won't get the deal you have your heart set on. While it's disappointing, remember: most places run sales until Christmas! While you might not score the item at 70% off, there's a good chance you can get it for 60% off later on, or on Cyber Monday.
  • Don't hit/kick/punch/riot. Remember two years ago? A Walmart employee was TRAMPLED TO DEATH on Black Friday because the shoppers literally ran over him. NO DEAL IS WORTH THIS. 
  • Take the first parking spot you see. This is not a day to drive around for 20 minutes looking for a spot close to the door. You'll be better served to park farther a way and walk than to waste valuable minutes searching for Princess spot. 
  • Be sure to eat breakfast--you'll be cranky-pants if you're hungry. No bueno! 
  • Take the ads with you! Sometimes things are mis-marked in the store, and sometimes items ring up wrong. If you have the ad, the store will adjust the price to what is advertised. Watch while the cashier is ringing you up to be sure you're receiving the advertised price. 
  • Make sure everyone in your shopping party has a cell phone. That way you can communicate even if you are on opposite ends of the store! 
  • Dress for the weather while you're waiting. Cold and miserable is no way to spend Black Friday!
  • Listen to Christmas music while you're in the car--it just makes it more fun! 
  • While a lot of sale prices are for early-birds only, many promotions last all day. Once you've gotten all of your early bird deals, head home, take a shower and a nap, and head back out later in the day. You'll be in a better mood, and you'll still get some great deals! 
  • And finally: Smile! Part of the fun of Black Friday is the charged atmosphere. It's exciting to get good deals, and if you're not having fun, it's not worth it!
Can you tell that I REALLY LOVE Black Friday shopping??

What tips or tricks did I leave out of my list?
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