Thursday, November 10, 2011

Black Friday Survival Guide

In my last post I mentioned that one of my favorite things about this time of year is Black Friday, and it is coming up fast! Now I know that the majority of people would rather swim in a pool of scorpions than go anywhere near the mall on Black Friday. But hear me out. You don't have to be in line for days to get good deals. True, this is necessary to get a good deal on a TV or a computer. But there are lots of other things on sale like movies, sheets, and toys that almost everybody will have to buy for someone at some point over the holidays.

Now, I am somewhat of a Black Friday pro. My husband learned from his dad and then passed his knowledge down to me. And I have found that if you are going to try Black Friday shopping, the best tool you can have is someone who knows what they are doing. You can never be too prepared when dealing with exhausted, frozen, cracked out on turkey mobs of people. So the following are the key things I have learned from my years as a Black Friday shopper. Hopefully they will help if you are planning on venturing out for the first time this November 25th.

1. It will be freezing cold. I know this seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people I have seen standing in line shivering wearing only a cardigan. I don't care how warm and beautiful it is during the day. No matter what, when you go outside at 3 AM in November it will be cold. Very, very cold. Also, when you stand still outside for hours at a time, it will be cold. Very, very cold. Chances are, when you first get out of the car you will think, "Hey, this isn't so bad," but once you have stood in line for an hour I promise, you will think it is bad. Wear a coat. And a scarf and mittens and a hat. And Ugg boots if you have them.

2. You are not going to get a TV. Or a computer or a tablet or any other really awesome electronic for that matter. People line up outside days in advance for big ticket items, so unless you are willing to miss Thanksgiving dinner with your family, you're not going to get any of these things. Black Friday will be useless to you until you let go of the idea that everyone comes out of it with a home entertainment system. However, if you insist on getting one on Black Friday, there is a little trick. Some stores, like Sears, will sell items online at Black Friday prices. These usually go on the website Thanksgiving evening, so you can order the item online and then pick it up at the store closest to you the next day after all the hard core shoppers are done.

3. Have a plan. Black Friday is not for window shopping. If you try this, you will literally get run over. You need to go into each store knowing exactly what you want to buy. Get the newspaper the Sunday before Thanksgiving and go through the circulars. Make a list of items that you are interested in at each store. Then decide which store to go to first, second, etc. This is especially important this year since many of the big stores like Target and Best Buy are all opening at midnight. This means that if you go to Target first, by the time you get over to Best Buy a lot of the items may already be sold out. You need to decide which purchases are most important to you and go to that store first. Then go to the store with your second most important purchases next and so on and so forth. Remember, time is of the essence. Do not stop to look at anything that might catch your eye. Go straight to the items on your list and then straight to the register. And do NOT forget to bring the list with you!

4. You are going to have to run. This is not so much a tip as something you will just do in order to live through this experience. Most stores only open one door. So all the hundreds of people you are in line with - who are crazy and cold and desperate to get inside - are going to be crammed into one small entrance. People will not care if you want to take your time getting into the store. People will not care if you are a 90-year-old lady with a walker. They will run and push and cram into that small opening as fast as they possibly can. Then once they get inside they will take off like they are being chased by a thousand hungry lions. If you want to get to any deals at all, you are going to have to take off running with them. Now, if you simply want to walk around the store and hope something good falls into your lap, fine. But for your own safety, please stay to the back of the line and out of the way of the mob of people who will be trying to kill you.

5. Get some rest. Most likely, when you get home from shopping you are going to feel great. Your adrenaline will be rushing and you will have so much cool new stuff to play with. But do not be fooled. This feeling is fleeting. The crushing weight of the fact that you only got three hours of sleep the night before and that you have literally been running all over town for the past six hours will come down on you like a Japanese sumo wrestler. First you will realize that you haven't felt your fingers or toes in hours because they are like blocks of ice. Then your eyes will start to get really heavy and your stomach will start eating itself. Unpleasant. To avoid this, always have a post-game plan. I usually head to a fast food restaurant and get breakfast to go. When I get home I unload my purchases, eat, put on really warm pajamas, and go straight to bed. You will wake up late that afternoon feeling a million times better.

Good luck out there everyone! If you end up buying any really great stuff, or have any tips after this year's Black Friday, please let me know. Or if you happen to see anything ridiculous happen while you are out (usually there is at least one thing) I'm going to need to hear about that too. Leave me a comment here or email me at

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