Black Friday:: My Bargain Shopper Strategy

24 Nov

Once a year across this great land of ours, millions of people arise way before the sun, their tummies still digesting turkey, and embark on the craziest day of shopping known to mankind—Black Friday.  Otherwise sweet and kind people turn into raving lunatics as they push and shove, grab and grope, and shop ‘til they drop. I know; I love it, too!

While I generally avoid crowds and claustrophobic situations, Black Friday is my day of reckoning.  I’m a woman on a mission for deals, and not just for me, for my family.  And, by golly, my niece is getting that Hello Kitty whatchamacallit and my mom is getting that $8 sweater.  I try to be polite, say excuse me, and observe social etiquette despite the bargain-crazed crowed and I usually wind up with some awesome deals, especially because what I think is an awesome deal isn’t necessarily what everyone else is after.

As a savvy Black Friday shopper, I am sharing with you my words of wisdom so you, too, can plan your own memorable way-too-early-to-be-up shopping trip this year!  Pre-planning is the key to having a good, safe, and fun Black Friday experience.

Plunge into those Black Friday ads like nobody’s business. I do an initial scan circling items with a Sharpie marker, and then I go through the ads in my Thanksgiving Day paper a few more times making sure I have found everything.  Then I sort through the ads figuring out which items are the ones I want most.  It’s impossible to get every thing, so prioritize.  Also, some retailers are also offering great buys online—why wait in line when you can hop online for the same (or even a better) deal?

Price check and read up on those “deals.” With sites like BFads.net, it’s easy to see what many retailers will be offering as door buster deals on Black Friday.  But remember, sometimes their “deals” aren’t really deals at all.  Check consumer reviews at Amazon.com and counter the price points to make sure you’re not being tricked into something that’s less-than-satisfactory.

Make a list and check it thrice. After I’ve figured out what I want to purchase, I make a list of the store, the items I want to buy at the store, and the price of each item.  I also make a notation if I have any special coupons.  Then I strategically plan my attack—when does the store open?  What stores are in the same proximity? Where can I go to avoid big crowds?  Using all this data, I make a schedule with the approximate arrival and departure time at each destination, the importance of the story, and what we will purchase at the story.  So far, my best friend Sarah and I have really kept on schedule!  It keeps us moving, motivated, and gives us a sense of adventure.

Carry cash and keep it close. It can be easy to overspend when surrounded by so many deals.  Therefore, a lot a certain amount of money to your Black Friday spending and stop there.  I budget ahead of time and then add in a few more dollars for unadvertised items that catch my eye.  Last year, I was right on budget.  If you can do this using your debit card, more power to you.  I use both cash and my debit card because some retailers offer “cash only” lines which will get you in and out of the store more quickly than plastic.  Be careful because pickpockets are on the prowl and they’d like nothing more than to grab your holiday cash.

Keep a smile on your face. People are going to be rude, pushy, and obnoxious.  Instead of getting upset about it, just laugh.  I mean, they’re the ones who look ridiculous, right?  Plus, when you’re stuck in a long line it’s fun to make friends with the people in front of or in back of you.  It makes for a more pleasant experience for everyone.  Smile brightly at all those hard-working store employees who are probably having a rough day already.  Encourage them by saying, “You’re doing a great job!”  And if you can’t find an item, ask a store employee—not only will it save you time and keep you on schedule, but you might be the only kind customer the employee encounters all day!

Some may call it retail therapy, but I love getting a great day and Black Friday provides me with enough happy hormones to last for days!  Cynics write off the day as an event that only highlights the greedy consumerism that plagues Americans, which is fine because it just leaves more bargains for me to snatch up. Have a safe and happy Black Friday!

What deals have caught your eye in early Black Friday ads?  Is there anything you plan to go out and buy?

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No Responses to “Black Friday:: My Bargain Shopper Strategy”

  1. Delisha November 24, 2009 at 2:38 PM #

    Love the post. Really great tips! I haven’t found anything that interest me to much on the black friday deals. Of course I haven’t looked that much either.

    • Amy November 24, 2009 at 5:25 PM #

      Delisha, hey, you never know. I’m psyched out about a 20% off regular AND SALE merchandise at a craft store. 🙂

  2. Blitz November 24, 2009 at 3:28 PM #

    Okay, so me and my sister are planning to go on our first black friday this year… why havent we gone to one before?… we’re Canadian. over here we have Boxing Day after christman… similar, but not as many good deals as in the states. so on thursday, me, her and a few friends are planning on crossing our south border and getting all the sweet deals now that our Canadian dollar is high, and the deals will be even cheaper than on a normal black friday.

    my question is regarding your “planning”.
    as you already know, we live in Canada, so there really arent any black friday deals advertised over here so that we can plan on what we wish to buy.
    is there any way that we can find the same ads that are shown there in the newspapers/t.v.?

    p.s. We are in Toronto, most likely going to Buffalo, or New York City.

    • Amy November 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM #

      Blitz, you can do your planning online. Go to BFAds.net and check out their pre-Black Friday ads…and you can go to the websites of the stores you may want to visit (BestBuy.com, Walmart.com). The ad scans aren’t GREAT at BFAds, so going to the store’s website the day before Black Friday would definitely work. According to what I’ve been reading, there are some pre-Black Friday sales happening with online merchants who are trying to one up each other. New “specials” are being released all the time! BFAds.net has been very helpful on keeping me in the pre-planning loop.

      NYC on Black Friday—oh dear! Sounds scary–even for me! 🙂

  3. apocalypsecakes November 24, 2009 at 3:43 PM #

    I like your tactics on navigating the consumo-pocalypse that occurs after Thanksgiving. I just buy stuff off the internet and wait for another colonization.
    http://apocalypsecakes.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/china-world-domination-red-bean-cakes/

    • Amy November 24, 2009 at 5:20 PM #

      I like the word “consumu-pocalypse.” That’s pretty much the best made-up word to describe Black Friday…EVER!

  4. Anna November 24, 2009 at 4:24 PM #

    that’s a great strategy., however when people are looking for the same item as you are, and there are not enough.. oh boy.. trouble arises!

    • Amy November 24, 2009 at 5:19 PM #

      Team up with another shopper and form an alliance and ensure that you both work together to get your items! And just hope there are two left. 🙂

  5. SallyK November 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM #

    I’m just not into Black Friday but if it makes you happy and you have the cash and the stamina, go for it! North Coast Muse @ http://sally1029.wordpress.com

  6. Pretty Project November 24, 2009 at 6:43 PM #

    I crown you…the Queen of BF Shoopers! 😉

    http://www.theprettyproject.com

  7. Edwin Earls November 24, 2009 at 10:10 PM #

    I just can’t take the crowds. So I really enjoy the online shopping and this year the sales seem to be really great.

  8. salubrioussingle November 24, 2009 at 10:50 PM #

    I enjoy all the tips – but since I have to work on Friday, I can’t be tempted too much (oh wait, where are the online sales again?)

    Happy thanksgiving

    • Amy November 25, 2009 at 12:09 AM #

      Black Friday isn’t as fun when you have to work. When I was getting my graduate degree, I worked as a seasonal gift wrapper for a local department store that offered free wrapping for in-store purchases. Black Friday and Christmas Eve were CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY. It was fun when the people in line didn’t get annoyed because they had to wait for their FREE gift wrapping. Uh, it’s free, you must wait for that stuff. Honestly, Christmas shoppers can be whiny and annoying, which is why the “smile at the employees” tip is one of the most important. 🙂

      Maybe you can catch a few online sales while you’re on break… 🙂

  9. Irene Suwarno November 24, 2009 at 11:59 PM #

    I can’t wait for this coming Black Friday!

  10. Matt November 25, 2009 at 12:06 AM #

    Black Friday is horrible. It is the propaganda machine of a over-consuming culture where we are told that we need to spend money on crappy things to make us feel better about our lives.

    Instead, we should all be celebrating “Buy Nothing Day”. Check it out on facebook. Or this website. https://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd#buy_nothing_christmas

    Christians everywhere need to focus more on things like this than getting good deals.

  11. Amy November 25, 2009 at 12:21 AM #

    Hmm…my replies are SUPPOSED to go under individual comments, but….doesn’t seem to be happening.

    Matt, I was wondering when one of you kill joys was going to show up. First of all, there is nothing wrong with consumerism because we are all consumers and by our very nature–consume. And if there’s going to be a whole day dedicated to getting more for our money, then why not go hog wild saving?

    Certainly, I am not (nor is anyone else) advocating violence, spending money foolishly or wastefully–just how to have a good time, get super gifts, and break out of our shopping routines. Plus, we’re helping the economy!

    Black Friday is a day when I can stock up on craft supplies like yarn and beads, which I use throughout the year. I can also buy toys for kids in need (and get more than I would on a non-sale day, thus helping more kids). Not only that, but my best friend and I have a great time and go out to breakfast with my mom. It’s became a tradition for us now–and it’s not just about the shopping.

    Christians should totally focus on getting good deals–God called us to be good stewards of all that we have, including our money. Unless it becomes an idol worship sort of thing, of course, but we’re talking about one day a year here.

    There is nothing wrong with buying Christmas presents or shopping, but again, it should be done in moderation.

    I’m concerned with helping people learn the ropes, having fun, and getting the most for their hard-earned cash.

  12. Matt November 25, 2009 at 4:09 AM #

    God is one who calls us to act in accordance with Godly justice. When we seek out things like “door busters” or super sales…at whose expense do you think they come? Buy nothing day is an attempt to get a better understanding of justice issues around the world. To seek solidarity with those who suffer and are incapable of buying anything instead of taking part of the biggest day of American greed.

    If you want to help the economy, start buying local products, which cost more money instead of giving your hard earned cash (Which God enabled you to earn, by the way) to the big companies which can afford these huge sales. If you really wanted to make the economy better, you’d learn how to make your own yarn and beads.

    Just because you feel good about what you do doesn’t make it right. Being good is not being just.

  13. Penny Go @ Pre College Summer Program November 25, 2009 at 10:33 PM #

    I was going to say something about all the stuff I want to buy on Black Friday sales, but that sounds kind of lame after reading the comment above! Guess I’ll be grateful for what I do have and donate to the food bank for those less fortunate. Happy Thanksgiving! (On second thought, anybody seen any good ads for a Wacum Tablet Black Friday special???)

  14. heatro November 26, 2009 at 10:05 PM #

    Great strategies! I’m getting pumped up to go out tomorrow at 2 am to find myself the things I have been waiting all year to get. I have honestly been looking forward to this day all month!

    And Matt – to spark the economy, you need to spend money. Whether you buy locally or buy from a big company, you are spending money and that’s what’s important. Making your own yarn and beads doesn’t help the economy – it probably is more likely to help the environment. Consumerism is what keeps people employed.

    And “buy nothing day” sounds like a day when you cut yourself off from consumerism and technology. You’re not suffering with those incapable of buying anything – you’re probably sitting in your big house with the furnace on next to the fireplace with your dog and family. If you want to suffer with them, sit outside in the cold for the night and learn what it’s like to really not have anything. If you want to help something, pretending like you’re suffering with them doesn’t help anyone but you because you’re saving a little on your electicity bill. If you really want to do something, give all of your blankets away to some homeless people to keep them warm for a few nights.

  15. Sarah November 26, 2009 at 10:23 PM #

    I love Black Friday! This is an awesome article. Thanks for the tips. I will definately use some of them this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. MOM November 28, 2009 at 4:22 PM #

    WELL. AMY AND SARAH LEFT THEIR PLACE AT 430 AM AND SHOPPED A BIT FOR 3 HOURS AND THEN PICKED ME UP AT 7:30. WE SHOPPED FOR A FEW HOURS, HAD A SUPER BREAKFAST, AND I SHOPPED WITH THEM UNTIL 2PM. THEY DROPPED ME BACK HOME AND THEN CONTINUED SHOPPING AT A LARGE DEPARTMENT STORE. WE GOT THE BEST DEALS FOR OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!! I WAS WEARY, BUT HAPPY TO FINISH MY SHOPPING. WE HAD SUCH FUN TOGETHER AND NO ILL WILL WAS FOUND ANYWHERE. AMY AND SARAH ARE GREAT DAUGHTERS AND COULD NOT BE BETTER TO ME. THEY ALSO HAVE THE BEST IDEAS FOR THE BEST GIFTS FOR EVERYONE. IF YOU ARE ON THEIR LIST, BE READY TO BE SURPRISED AND VERY GRATEFUL. BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING IS GREAT FAMILY FUN FOR US GALS. THANKS AMY AND SARAH!

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