Does the idea of shopping on Black Friday send shivers down your spell? Does the thought of standing in line at 4am for a door buster make you ill? Or does it start your engines racing, with the thrill of victory.
If you are willing to tolerate the crowds, and willing to run for must have door busters, then here are some tips for you.
- Make a plan before you get to the store. Study the sale ads closely, comparing prices for like items at different stores! Pay close attention to the items that look too good to be true, sometimes they have a small note that says "a minimum of 5 items per store". Decide ahead of time if it is worth standing in line for it. The best thing is to bring a friend or two. You may need help finding your items, carrying them, and standing in line to buy them. If there are two stores that you want to shop at, opening at the same time, split up your party, or decide which deal is best, and forfeit the others. If your plan is to hit store after store for door busters, look for a mall or strip mall that contains all those stores in one spot, or the most in one spot. This will save you drive time. Also, if you are going to multiple stores, make sure you pay attention to the time while you are shopping. You could even assign someone as the time keeper. A good idea is to plant a member of your team at the checkout ahead of time so you do not have to stand in the long lines. In your plan, assign members of your team a specific item to get, and a backup item. Split up when you get to the store. Use cell phones, or even the old-fashioned walkie talkies to talk to each other. If possible, head to the store the day before familiarize yourself with the different departments where your items may be located. Sometimes staff will give you the details of where items will be located on Black Friday. Do not forget, many stores put door buster items in the aisles. Always check the aisles on your way to the department the item is usually housed in.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Just in case you do have to run, carry something heavy or stand in long lines, it is best to be comfy. Leave your coat in the car so you do not have to carry it. The stores will be warm. Obviously if you are going to stand in line outside for hours before the store opens, leaving your coat in the car may not be possible.
- Your purse: It should be fairly small, and preferably one that slings over your body. If worse comes to worse, dig your fanny pack out of the back of your closet. You can not afford to use your hands to carry a purse, you'll probably need those hands to carry the merchandise. Better yet, carry only the necessary credit cards and id that you will need in your pockets.
- Bring one or two large bags with shoulder straps. You may not find carts in a crowded store, but that may be to your benefit as you can get around faster without one. Obviously if you are buying a large, bulky item, you may have to get a cart.
- If you have room in your purse or pocket, bring the sale paper with you, or just cut outs of the items you are looking for. This will give you the sale price, the exact item on sale and a picture to show sales associates if you can not find the item. It will also come at handy at the checkout just in case it rings up at the wrong price. I usually keep these ads for a while after Black Friday, just in case I do not get the item on that day. I use the ads to compare sale prices at a later date. There have been some times when the item was cheaper after Black Friday, but not very often.
- Grab as much as you can. When shopping, grab what great priced items you can, and pare it down later either in the store out of the way of the crowds, or at home. Before you pare it down, think of all the possible gifts you need. Grab bags, work parties, mailman, hairdresser, secret Santa, neighbor, etc. Check the stores return policy to make sure you can return it if you buy too many. Most important – do not forget the gift receipt!
- Trunk space. If possible, drive a big car with a big trunk! Make sure you trunk is cleaned out before you go, and the gas tank is full. If you have a SUV with a retractable cover for your cargo area, make sure it is working. When your vehicle is filling up with gifts, you can pull the cover to deter theft. If you do not have a retractable cover, bringing a large dark blanket, it will serve the same purpose. Pack light snacks and water in the car for a quick energy boost between stores.
- Above all, use common courty and do not try and cut ahead of people who have been waiting in line for hours. It is not worth the fight, plus it is not in the holiday spirit. Wait in line until their line goes down, or get in line behind them.