Tip #1: Do Your Prep Work. Check out sites like www.bfads.net and www.blackfriday.info for Black Friday ads. Most ads are "leaked" days, if not weeks before Black Friday. There are also great apps that you can download. These sites and apps also let you know what time each store will be opening on Black Friday.
Tip #2: Buy the Newspaper. Pick up the Thanksgiving Day paper and you will find all of the Black Friday ads. This is where things start to get serious.
Tip #3: Make a List and Check it Twice. Using the ads from Friday's newspaper, begin to make a list of all the items that you wish to purchase. We categorize our list by store. List each item that you are interested in purchasing, making sure to include the price. We always make sure to note what time each store will be opening. Be sure to bring the ads with you!
Tip #4: Email Yourself. This is where the beginners can go wrong. During the weary morning hours of Black Friday, you will inevitably lose the list that you just spent so much time creating. It will fall out of your pocket while you are loading your car full of your new purchases, it will be forgotten in a shopping cart, or it will become wedged under your car seat. I guarantee, it will not survive Black Friday. That is why, you must Email Yourself the list. Everyone in your party should have a list that can be accessed on their phone. And that brings us to our next tip . . .
Tip #5: Assemble a Search Party. For years, we did Black Friday alone. We felt that company would just slow us down. It wasn't until last year that we tried things a bit differently. My brother and sister accompanied us on Black Friday and it was definitely a game changer . . . in a good way.
Tip #6: Create a Game Plan. Decide which stores your will hit first. In previous years, Target has opened at 4am, while Sears has opened at 5. That meant that we needed to be in and out of Target in enough time to get to Sears before they opened the doors. We created a tight schedule to make sure we were able to go to each store in a certain amount of time. We decided which stores were most important to us based on the items that we had on our list. Sometimes this meant that one person would stand in line, while the other person quickly shopped. Last year, since there were four of us in our party, we split up. One of us picked up the items that were located upstairs, one of us picked up the items that were downstairs, one of us picked up the items that needed to be retrieved from customer service and the other person stood in line. Get in, get out and stick to the game plan!
Tip #7: Don't be Afraid to Ask. If you can't find the item that you are searching for, just ask a store employee. If they can't help you, politely ask to speak to a manager. Last year, I had my heart set on a KitchenAid 4.5 Quart Standing Mixer. We waited in line at Kohl's and entered the store as soon as the doors opened. I was disappointed to see that they had NONE of the mixers that were advertised in the paper. People were angry! I went to customer service and asked them to check in the back for me. Three people searched and they couldn't find the mixers anywhere. It turned out that the shipment had been misplaced and none of the mixers were ever placed out on the shelves. That's when I decided that I wouldn't leave without a mixer. Noticing another mixer, that was NOT on sale, I explained to the manager how disappointed I was and told him that I would like the KitchenAid 5.5 Quart Artisan Mixer for the same price as the one that was advertised. I also wanted to receive the mail-in rebate, magazine subscription and the Kohl's Cash that was to come along with the other mixer. Guess what? He gave it to me! None of the other people had even bothered to ask. They went home without a mixer, and I went home happy!
Tip #8: Don't forget your Coupons. Stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond always offer 20% off coupons. Save them! Bring a few with you and apply them towards your Black Friday purchases. Bring your Kohl's Cash, bring your gift cards, bring it all!
Tip #9: Make it Festive. Pack hot apple cider in a thermos to enjoy in the car. Make sure you've loaded your iPod with Christmas tunes to listen to while driving from store to store. All of the stores will have beautiful Christmas displays and will surely be blasting Christmas music. Many will hand out candy canes as you enter the store or when you make your purchase. Some may even gift you with a Christmas ornament. Get into the Holiday spirit!
Tip #10: Don't be Scared! Once we started shopping on Black Friday, we realized that it wasn't nearly as bad as we had expected. Stores are staffed well and many won't even have a line at check out. The crowds on Black Friday are much smaller than the crowds you will encounter during the rest of the holiday shopping season, (unless you are going to Walmart). It never fails, every year we see some crazy footage that took place on Black Friday at a Walmart. THAT scares me. I really don't want to be trampled. So, that's one place we never visit. Other than that, there are great deals, less crowds than most people expect and Christmas Cheer. What's not to love?
What are your Black Friday Tips? Will you be heading out?