Now I have to be perfectly honest…cooking Thanksgiving dinner and then shopping Black Friday are my absolute favorite time of the year! I look forward all year to the 2-3 sleepless days of cooking, shopping and adrenaline. I started shopping Black Friday WAY before I started couponing…and now with couponing it is even more exciting for me!
I thought that since this is something I feel I am pretty experienced in I would share my tips and strategies (but not all of them…LOL).
1. Do your research. This is definelty the most important tip I can give you. You need to make sure you know what you are planning on buying, where it is the best price, what time that store opens, and how you are planning on achieving the ultimate goal of purchasing your items!
2. Make a Budget. Now it is easy to say….but from experience sticking to a budget on Black Friday can be tricky. One of my strategies here is I start putting cash away a few months before Black Friday and then only bring cash with me to the stores…this way I don’t blow my budget on accident. When I am out of money…I go home
3. Write up a plan or map. Ok I know it sounds kind of silly, but I am totally serious. I write up a detailed plan with everything I will need to know for Black Friday on it. Also don’t forget to keep a copy of the ads with you just to remind you of the exact item you are looking for. Some people even go as far as walking the store the day before just to make sure they know which aisle the items will be located at. Here is an example of what my plan/map might look like:
Black Friday 2011 (Hypothetical)
Toys R Us
Opens: 12 am
Appropriate Arrival Time: 10 pm
Shopping List: Barbie Princess Castle ($19.99) aisle 12, Nerf Gun dual loader ($10) aisle 4, Crayola Crayons (BOGO) end cap by movies.
Coupons: Crayola $1/2 printable, Nerf $3/1 printable
Store Incentive: Free box of 48 ct crayons
Opens: 12 am
Appropriate Arrival Time: after Toysrus (if there is time before next store opening)
Shopping List: Leapster ($25), Leapster games ($9), RCA Portable DVD Player ($45)
Coupons: $5/1 Leapster printable, $3/1 Leapster games tear pad
Store Incentive: None
Opens: 3 am
Appropriate Arrival Time: No later than 1:00 am (possibly send shopping buddy to hold a spot in line)
Shopping List: Vests for Nyomi, Maiya, Jadyn and Savannah ($8). Winter boots for Maiya and Nyomi ($10), Puff jacket for Jadyn ($12)
Coupons: $10 off $50 printable
Store Incentive: Free Ipod
Opens: 4 am
Appropriate Arrival Time: 3:30
Shopping List: Kitchen Aid Mixer ($125), Bath Towels ($5), and Down Blanket ($30)
Coupons: 20% off total purchase mailer
Store Incentive: Kohls Cash, additional 20% off before 9 am
Opens: 5 am
Appropriate Arrival Time: 4:45 am
Shopping List: Tubaware ($5), Legos ($10), PJ’s ($3), Bed Sheets ($12), Ipod touch ($89)
Store Incentive: None
Ok so I think you’ve got the picture on how I write up my store plan. Please remember the above list is all hypothetical…I made up all the information including store hours.
4. Take along posse. Now I would say that you should have a shopping buddy, but a posse is way better! Go along with at least one other person but if you can try to have 3-4 people you are shopping with! This way if there is store that is taking longer to check out, either you or your friend can stay and check out while the other goes to jump in line at the next store. It is also very helpful for making each store a faster experience. Have one person go immediately to stand in line and hold a place, while the other goes and shops for their list, then switch position. By the time you get the checker you will both have gotten everything and gotten in and out of the store FAST!
5. Leave the kiddos at home. My very first year shopping Black Friday I woke up at 4 am and took my little one with me…well I will never do that again! It’s just not fair to them to have to wake up that early and hang out and shop. Plus you need all the focus you can get!
6. Pack a healthy and warm snack. I always like to bring a thermos with hot chocolate or coffee in it to keep me warm while standing in line outside. But you will most likely need some sort of a solid snack as well. You build up an appetite chancing those crazy deals!
7. Dress warm and pack a blankie. Here in Washington it definitely get very cold waiting outside for those stores to open. Try to warm multiple layers so that you can stay warm outside and then strip them off once you get into the store (you will get super hot inside!) Also if you are planning on doing some waiting outside for the store to open…bring a blanket and maybe even a fold up chair to sit and stay warm in.
8. Be patient. Let’s be realistic no matter how well you have everything mapped out, it’s Black Friday! Millions of people are out shopping and trying to score the same deals, so it is inevitable that there are going to be some crazy LONG lines. (That’s why a shopping buddy/posse is so great)
9. Be respectful. As bad as you may want that one deal…it’s not worth getting hurt or hurting someone else over it. I am not just talking about getting physically hurt…be mindful of your tongue. I have heard even some of the most sweet and Christian people turn very nasty when they “fighting” to get that deal. Just be mindful of others…and most importantly even Black Friday prices do often times come around again. (Cyber Monday anybody?)
10. Have fun. Seriously don’t let the stress of chasing the deal take all the fun out of shopping! Enjoy yourself