Black Friday Shopping

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Hi, my name is Nichole and I am a Black Friday shopping addict.

I've always loved shopping. I'm definitely a shop-a-holic. But I'm also really stingy with spending my money. I hate buying something only to find out another store had it for a lower price or it went on sale the next week. So, insert Black Friday.

The first year I went, I convinced my mom that it was perfectly reasonable to wake up at 4:30 AM on a day off and go stand in line with tons of other people to get great deals on items. Believe me, it took a lot of convincing. We started off at Target, picking up $3 DVDs, $2 bath towels, a $20 home foot spa kit, some shirts and a few other things. Then we went to Best Buy because they had a DVD set that I wanted. When I realized that the line was wrapped around the store twice, I gave up and said I would just order the DVD online. We moved onto the mall, buying clothes and random stuff for my dad, a $50 Sony DVD player at Sears, a $40 new winter coat from JC Penney, and somewhere in between we managed to get all of the gifts we needed for family members. Looking back, I realized that this was the most naive Black Friday adventure I ever had. Which was pretty excusable, it was our first trip.

A lot of people refuse to ever go Black Friday shopping because they think it is utter chaos. Not once in my 5 years of Black Friday shopping have I endured chaos. Whiny people, long lines, and parking far away? Yes, but that all comes with the territory. You need a game plan on a day like this. You can't just go in there and wander around thinking "hmm should I pick up that candle for Aunt Marge?" NO! You need to know what you are buying Aunt Marge way before you ever enter the store.

I've learned a lot of tips and tricks to making Black Friday shopping pretty damn efficient. Here's what you need to do:
  • Go to www.bfads.net and view all of the stores ads before you go. Some stores start posting these ads as early as the beginning of November. 
  • Make a list of what you need to buy.
  • Compare stores to see who has the best deal on items. 
  • Understand that is going to be crowded and people are going to get in your way. 
  • Realize that you are not going to get everything on your list. 
  • Prioritize your list to see which store you need to go to first. 
  • Unless you live in a desolate area, avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. 
Have you ever noticed that when people talk about the chaos of Black Friday shopping it always seems to stem around going to Wal-Mart? If not, well now you know. All of the Wal-Marts in my area are typically chaotic every single time you visit. People clog up the aisles with their carts, kids run around like hellions, the cashiers take their good old time ringing up each person and its generally just a mess. So why in the world would you go there?

Target typically has the same items for the same price and well, is much easier to navigate. I've also noticed, stupid people don't shop at Target. At Target you are not going to find the woman who blocks the aisle with her cart and stares at the price sign over the display. At Wal-Mart you will find tons and tons of those people. Honestly, I believe that they are standing there and waiting for the smiley face to come down and slash prices like he does in the commerical. The smiley face is not real people!!

Okay, now back to more tips:
  • Everyone is going to be in the electronics section. It doesn't matter what store you go to. 
  • Never shop alone. Having another person with you (or 2, or 3) maximizes your ability to get everything that you want. 
  • Carts are not necessary. Okay, fine, if your buying something gigantic, yes a cart is necessary, but this is where multiple people come in. One person is the cart pusher and the other is the grabber. The cart pusher stands out of the way while the grabber squeezes through and gets everything off the shelves that is necessary. 
  • Do not think that you can go into a toy store and not get frazzled. If you have children to buy for, you're probably better off doing it online. Or, I advise at least 3 years of Black Friday shopping experience before you decide to hit up a Toys R Us. 
  • Understand that you are going to stand in lines. 
  • If you are a coffee drinker or you think you're definitely going to need a pick-me-up before shopping, I highly advise iced coffee. Even if you live in New York and its 15 degrees outside. Hot coffee needs time to cool and you aren't going to have that kind of time once you get in the store. So, buy an iced coffee, slurp it down as fast as possible without getting a brain freeze and then get shopping!
  • Know that the stuff with the best deals is going to sell out first. 
The only time I saw some form of craziness was at Target about 3 years ago. And it was only in the electronics section. I guess they had a good deal on TVs or computers. Everyone rushed over to that side of the store as soon as we were let in. The outside perimeter of the electronics section is where they had all of the DVDs for $3 and $5. I wanted some of those DVDs and I should have grabbed them first. However, I went to another section of the store and then proceeded to make my way over. I had to squeeze in between carts, dodge people, and do a couple of ballerina type moves to grab the DVDs and make it out of there. It was a bit harrowing, but thats what makes Black Friday fun. You know its going to be like that! You just need to embrace it. And have some freaking patience.

And my final bits of advice:
  • Most stores open at 5 or 5:30. You should get there no later than 5:30 AM.
  • The malls are generally less crowded than individual stores. 
  • The second wave of people comes around 9 AM, so you want to be on your way out at this point. 
  • Have an alternate route home. In my area, there's probably a 25 mile radius of nothing but stores and a mall. Navigating any of those streets was not fun. By knowing a back route, I bypassed about 25 minutes of traffic. 
 Oh, and you wanna know what really shocked me...I thought there would be tons and tons of people out last year because of the whole recession thing. No. It was the most unpopulated Black Friday experience I ever had. Tom and I were so efficient and bought everything we needed and then some.

Happy Shopping!!

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