I am an expert at Black Friday shopping strategy.
I have been going for years. As a kid we use to go with our aunts ... then I use to go with Brad ... now I go with my mom and sister so Brad can stay with the kids. It's tradition.
I have been everywhere and seen everything. I have never not gotten what I wanted on Black Friday ... this year will be no exception.
It's simple ... you just need to follow a few guidelines.
Set a Game Plan
This is the most important part of Black Friday. Early organization, planning and critical thinking is key. And it should start now. Leaked ads are everywhere.
To begin … set a list of who you are buying for and what your budget is for each person.
Then, try to institute the “One for You, One for Me” rule. There are so many great deals on Black Friday, remember get a few things for yourself. Buying for others is great ... but you will feel even better if you get a few things for yourself too.
As the Black Friday ads start to roll in … if you have a clear list and budget you can easily see what you need (and what you don’t need) and will not be overwhelmed by options.
Example: Black Friday 2004. Menards had a great deal on a DVD player – only $9.99. And here it sits … still in my closet, never opened. Yep, it was a great deal. And only $9.99. But clearly that was a wasted $9.99 – I could have bought three lattes with that $9.99.
If it’s not on your list, you don’t need it. No matter how cheap it seems to be.
I like to get a piece of poster paper to help plot my route. Draw a map. Illustrate your must-have items. So many considerations … lots of stores with different locations … and different promotions and different hours. And coupons with fine print. Be thoughtful. Choose locations that are near other stores you are visiting. If you have a “must find” item, know where the back-up locations are so you can get there in a pinch.
Set your itinerary for the night. Know where you are going first and the cadence that follows.
Example: Last year, ToysRUs had my “must have” item … a $19.99 cleaning cart for Emmett (a year later, it is still his favorite toy). I went to ToysRUs in Blaine … sold out. I had not done my homework and thought the next closest location was Roseville. I spent the 20-minutes to drive there at 3am. Nope, it was a BabiesRUs, not a ToysRUs. After a quick google search on my phone I was off to Maplewood … where I luckily found the cleaning cart, in the nick of time. Had I done my homework, I would have gotten there quicker and not put myself in jeopardy of nearly missing cart!
Dress for Competition
This is an easy one. Lets be smart people. I abandon most of my fashion rules for Black Friday. No heels. No puffy warm jackets. No fitted jeans.
Dress in layers ... think athletic. This is a competition after all. Yoga pants and tennis shoes are a great option. Maybe pair it with a long-sleeved tissue tee and a Lululemon Hoodie. Bring a pashminia and a pretty hair tie. You should make a point to do your hair. Maybe take a shower after Thanksgiving dinner just to "freshen up." You will perform better if you look pretty. Don't forget the lipgloss.
How to Dodge the Line
This is one of my best tips. You do not need to wait in line. Really, who does that? Why wait in line all through your Thanksgiving dinner just to buy an iPad at a crazy price. The only thing crazy about that is the people actually waiting in line.
Enjoy your turkey dinner. Visit with your family. Indulge in some wine.
Show up at the store right when they open, if not a few minutes after. Target has caught on to this and now barricades the door with metal line-formers. Other stores are not this smart. Once the door opens, it is a free for all. Don't line up and wrap around the store. Stay in your car, with the heater on, and listen to some Christmas tunes. One you see the door open, casually get out of the car and approach the entrance. At this point, those in line and those approaching the line become one. Act super non-chalant. You can easily play off the "Oh, I just got here. Was there a line? I didn't see one." Act like a Black Friday Virgin. And inside you go. You may get a few nasty glances. Brush it off and keep moving. You can't make everyone happy ... and remember, it is competition. And besides, once you get in, there is a swarm of people and becomes a free for all. You, after all, are warm and ready to pounce on deals ... while they are still trying to unfrost their fingers.
Managing the "Black Friday High"
A Black Friday High ... this is what happens right after you get your hands physically on what you are shopping for ... A bright light glows above, bells ring, angels shout ... you feel like you can walk on water. DO NOT lose your mental balance during this high.
Acceptable ways of showing excitement: share a high-five with people around you, text anyone else you know out shopping (avoid those sleeping, they just don't get it), maybe do a Facebook post.
But do NOT start filling your cart with unnecessary items just because you are excited. Right after I found that $19.99 cleaning cart I was on a "Black Friday High" and came across little Butterscotch. What is Butterscotch? He is a $99.99 little toy horse. ToysRUs did a great job marketing him ... only two out on the floor and marked 50% off! He was a door buster! I felt the urge to get him. I proudly grabbed him and carried him back to our spot in line where my sister was waiting for me. She thought I was crazy. I insisted that we needed him. The insisting continued when I got home and Brad insisted that he go back to the store. "Nope" I said ... he was a rare find. Butterscotch still sits in our basement collecting dust since two days after Christmas when the novelty wore off. Complete waste of $99.
Remember, this is a competition. You aren't out to make friends. You are fighting and competing for deals. This comes above all else. A few basics:
Shop with a friend. One person immediately gets in line, then you take turns shopping and "dumping" to the person in line.
Keep a hand on your cart. One time I almost stole sheets out of someone's cart. Why? Well, there was a great door-buster on 700-thread count sheets. When I got to the display, all that remained was the sign. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw what looked like an abandoned cart, heaping with the beautiful sheet sets. I started to walk toward it, when a wrinkled dirty little hand grabbed the cart and pulled it back. Really lady, do you need 14 sets of the sheets? Couldn't I just have one set?
Look in Random Places. If the item you want is not on the shelf, keep your cool. Take a few steps back and check surrounding aisles. Often times, people get on their "Black Friday High" and just start grabbing everything. Then, once they come down from their high, they realize they do not need everything they need and start to unpack their cart in random places. You never know what you could uncover.
Hydrate + Refuel
Just as important as finding great deals is celebrating successes. Once you feel that you have had enough, indulge in a fancy breakfast at iHop or Perkins. You will be surrounded by fellow deal-gathers and can nostalgically compare finds and warrior stories.
Before heading home, remember to condense your bags so it looks like you bought "less" and bring them to your safe keeping place before your husband can see what you bought.
Put your feet up. If you did it right, your shopping is done.