I’ve been brave enough (or dumb enough, depending on your point of view) to set sail shopping on Black Friday a handful of times in the past. Through a lot of prep and practice with my mom outside big-box stores at the crack of dawn, still drowsy from the marathon eating only hours before, we developed some beneficial tips. And with these few tips and guidelines in mind, we managed to snag some killer bargains while maintaining a certain level of sanity. Now it’s time to share — meaning, I’ll share mine and then I’d love you to share yours.
1. Comb through the deals the day before. If you know you can save $20 on a new Sony turntable by grabbing it from Circuit City over Best Buy and that’s the only electronic you need, wouldn’t you like to know you can then skip BB altogether? By familiarizing yourself with what each store in your shopping area offers in terms of discounts, you can save more money and potential more stores to visit.
2. Plan to wake stupid early. If the first time you open your eyes Friday is any time after 7 a.m., I’d deem the quest likely not worth it. I’ve never had luck much past 8 a.m., to be honest.
3. Keep a list of items you’re hunting for. With the survival mentality triggered in stressful situations like mile-long lines, it’s easy to forget what you came for in favor of blindly adding to a basket. If you have specific items clearly listed (although you probably won’t be hunting for eggs, etc. like the photo above suggests… but tomatoes, YES), it’ll be easier not to go nuts and fall victim to the hustling pressure.
4. Set a budget. Some impulse buys will happen, either because you didn’t know about a certain offer or because you were caught off-guard by something shiny. A few cheap ones are OK, but stick with a strict spending maximum so you don’t have to eat only oatmeal for the next week of your life.
5. Wear comfortable shoes. Sounds kind of stupid and perhaps is a no-brainer, but I feel like this is pretty important. You’ll be standing a lot and sometimes required to move quickly — both are tough in cute albeit cumbersome kicks.
6. Bring a buddy. Since I had my mom and she had me, she could take turns standing in line while the other dashed off to grab something from her list. This helped minimize our line time and overall got us out of the chaos quicker. One year my strapping dude friend Allen accompanied us for even more fun — bringing up something else good to keep in mind: ask someone strong along if you plan to purchase anything terribly heavy you don’t feel comfortable carrying yourself (i.e., TVs, stereos, anything delicate and therefore also likely expensive).
7. Bring snacks. The long mall lines mirror the lines at nearby restaurants. I don’t know about you, but I can get pretty cranky when hungry, especially when it’s combined with crowds. Granola bars and purses get along great.
8. Start with the craziest stores. Each year we commenced our consumerism binge with the mothership: Best Buy. Figure out what the mothership Black Friday shop is in your town and if you need anything from it, start there. Bonus: Tallahassee’s Best Buy’s neighbor is Starbucks. Which leads me to my next tip…
9. If possible, opt for stores close to chain coffee shops. I don’t know this to be a fact with all chains or even all Starbucks, but every year Mom and I rotted outside of Best Buy for the big doorbusters, green aproned baristas would dispense courtesy cups of coffee to the rabid shoppers (us included). Even if the cafe next door doesn’t offer the stuff for free, it’s good to know there is the option of caffeine nearby.
10. Just enjoy it. If you’re starting to feel like the day is spinning into a fight for survival, end it. Shopping should be fun or at least the idea that you’re ideally getting something cool on the cheap for someone you dig. If the claustrophobia and building stress to find gifts mounds, stop. As soon as the fun ends, so should your shopping — simple as that.
Best of Black Friday luck, Lovelies! And remember, be super nice to employees at these shops. They have to deal with a lot of jerks and a little cordiality on your end has the ability to improve their days.
Have you ever been Black Friday shopping? What tips would you share for first-timers? What do you think of Black Friday in general?