Black Friday is officially one week from tomorrow (or today if you count Black Thursday). I have been checking out the ads, the store opening times and special offers. If you have Black Friday experience, you know these things, but for those of you with less experience:
Black Friday Shopping Tips
- Pack your patience. You are almost guaranteed to wait in a line somewhere. Parking lots are beyond full and otherwise sane people join into the crazy frenzy. This frenzy can cause stress and I have witnessed much rudeness, crabbiness and all variations of non-charitable behaviors. I like to go into this day with a spirit of adventure and good will. Otherwise, you just might punch somebody.
- If you are planning on trying to secure one of those elusive special buys like a Best Buy item, be prepared. My experience has been that people will line up more than 8 hours before the stores open. Black Friday weather traditionally varies from mild fall to dead of winter. If you plan on joining one of those outdoor lines, it can get VERY cold. And lonely, so bring a friend. About 8 years ago, I decided that I would brave those lines to purchase a computer a Best Buy. I arrived to the parking lot at 2 a.m. I was alone. I brought a chair, blanket and book on tape. The minutes passed so slowly. The store was due to open at 6 a.m. I had counted the number of shoppers ahead of me and felt I had a pretty good chance of getting on the the limited number of computers offered. The line grew and grew and then I noticed the line in front of me was also swelling. Cars would pull in a drop off the friends, families, neighbors and acquaintances of a single line-sitter. No one was policing the issue. I was frozen and needed a restroom break but I could not lose that space in line. At around 5:30 a.m., a Best Buy employee came by to try to get us all to sign up for their credit card. (we were captives) Then they started handing out vouchers to purchase items. The number of people ahead of me had doubled. The employee was holding a stack of vouchers and it was dwindling. By the time he reached me, there were no computers left to purchase. I could choose a more expensive model, of course. I had just stood in line for 4 hours in the freezing cold for NOTHING. Stand if you must but do this at your own risk.
- Dress for the day. It may be cold outside but it can become a sauna in the mall. I leave my heavy coat in the car and run inside. Comfort is key, but you can still look like a good holiday shopper. Comfortable shoes or boots, layered sweaters with pockets and stretchy pants are key. I also bring my cross-body purse for security (the frenzy is a perfect time for thieves as well) as well as to remain as hands-free as possible.
- Plan your payments. If you are a good holiday shopper and only use cash, be careful. You don't want to flash around a wad of cash. I only bring one or two credit cards. Most credit card companies offer additional protection for your purchases. And, I keep a special envelope for all receipts so they don't get lost in the bags.
- Keep your list handy and refer to it often. It can be so difficult to resist the impulse buys. Stay on task. And if you falter, remember to keep your receipts in case you come to your senses later.
- If you are in a mall with no shopping carts, the large shopping bags are a great way to keep track of many smaller bags. If you become too weighed down, take a time out and drop your packages off at your car. Be sure to indicate to those waiting for a spot that you are NOT leaving. That's just common courtesy.
- As your cars fills with all of your incredible bargains, keep it locked and parked in a secure location. I cover my bags with a blanket just to be sure I am not enticing any would-be robbers.
- Keep you energy up! Keep water bottles and snacks in the car. Restaurants are crowded on Black Friday, too.
- Keep smiling. We are ushering in the holiday season. We are getting good deals. If you get to the breaking point, take a break or call it a day.