I absolutely love Black Friday shopping. I’m a planner so I simply adore scouring the ads for those big sales all afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, while everyone else is watching football. Then there is the game plan for my shopping trip the next morning – ohhh – I get excited just thinking about drawing up my plan of attack.
I begin by determining which stores open when ( Toys r’ Us opens their doors at midnight; Kohl’s 3 am and WalMart 6 am). Now, once I know who’s opening when and what they have on sale that I have to have, it’s time to prioritize my shopping list in order of the stores I will be hitting first.
Oh, and I couldn’t call myself a true Black Friday shopper if I didn’t include the websites of my favorite online stores too so that I can order merchandise while standing in the long lines of more traditional outlets.
All of this planning and I haven’t even started shopping yet. Still, not every great plan works out like I’d hoped. Three years ago, for instance, Target opened at the same time as Game Crazy. Oops! I couldn’t be in two places at once so I had to decide which items on my list were most important – and most likely to be snatched up first. In the end, I opted to hit Game Crazy first, especially when I saw how short their line was compared to Target’s. Thanks to my game plan I was able to acquire one of 10 refurbished DS game systems for just $49 and then shoot over to Target and still get 4 of the 7 things on that store’s list. Win for me!
Still, even I often walk away from Black Friday feeling a bit disappointed and very frustrated. Its part of the game I think, which (crazy at it may sound) is part of the appeal. For me, Black Friday shopping is like a strategy game. If I’m good enough I can beat it; if not it beats me. So, how can you get on the winning team?
For those who are tired of getting up well before the sun comes up on Black Friday only to fight for a parking space, not to mention navigating crowded stores full of deal thirsty (and tired) customers only to leave disappointed – or worse yet, broke, I’ve got some winning strategies for you.
Tactic # 1: Know Exactly What You Want
When was the last time that you came home on Black Friday with everything you had set out to buy? If you are like most shoppers, the odds are “never.” Some savvy shoppers, do, however, manage to grab those great deals; but not without a plan of attack.
Knowing exactly what you want is an important factor in grabbing the best Black Friday deals. I always plan my shopping excursion with the one or two most important gifts in mind. Two years ago the only thing my daughter asked for was an iPod Touch. Too pricey for my budget to bear, I knew Black Friday sales were my only hope. So I set out on a quest. I had scouted out four stores with a great deal on that device.
One store, I knew, was famous for advertising such items at a steal only to have few in stock (and hundreds of people in line for it), so I immediately crossed them off of my list. That left three stores. One happened to open at 4 am and another at 5 am. Lucky for me they are only miles apart, so I stood in line for about an hour at the first store to have the best chance of getting the item I wanetd. Just in case, I planned on walking in, and if I didn’t get it, jumping in the car and heading for store # 2.
My initial plan: use my smart phone to try and order one from store # 3 while waiting in line somewhere. Lucky for me and my daughter I managed to not only get the device she wanted, but at a price I could afford. The reason: I was single-minded in my approach and knew exactly what I wanted and wasted no time with other sales; even the good ones. Time wasted in line at one store buying something else could have meant another customer getting the prize I was really after.
Tactic # 2: Use A Store’s Website
Last year, I went to Barnes and Noble to get a Nook reader for my sister. When I saw the long lines, I decided to try a different approach. While waiting in that endless line, I pulled out my smart phone and logged onto the Barnes and Noble website. For some reason the in-store sale was not offered online. But wait! I typed in Barnes and Noble coupon and found several coupons sites offering Barnes and Noble coupon codes that could be used on www.barnesandnoble.,com. Believe it or not, I was able to get the same Nook reader for $5 less (and free shipping) right then and there. No more waiting.
Tactic # 3: Look for Popular Items in More Obscure Places
When shopping for more popular items, try looking in more obscure places. For instance, Sierra Trading Post offers great deals on thousands of items at www.sierratradingpost.com. Plus, Sierra Trading Post coupons are readily available both on their website and other coupon generating sites. Remember, everyone goes to the most obvious place to find a popular item; but many more obscure retailers sell the same items – sometimes even for less.
Tactic # 4: Make A Day of It
True, some of the best Black Friday deals are found in the early morning hours, but I’ve discovered a dirty little secret: many retailers post new (unadvertised) sale prices throughout the day to pull in customers. I learned this quite by accident when shopping with my teenage daughter. After hitting the regular 4 and 5 am sales, she wanted to just “shop for fun” – as if there is such a thing on Black Friday! Well, now I can honestly say that there is. As we walked the mall throughout the late morning, I saw retailers putting up new sales signs all over the place. Could it be – could they be adding new sales to their Black Friday offerings? Yes! My favorite chocolateur was offering a 50% discount on boxed treats from 11 am until noon … my husband’s favorite shoe store offered a BOGO after lunch … and the toy store was literally giving away certain items at 3 pm. It was amazing. The longer I stayed at the mall, the better the sales seemed to get.
Then I thought about my Black Friday excursions when my children were young and I crawled out of bed at 5 am only to return around 7:30, before my kids even knew I was missing. What’s a mother with small children to do? After all, you can’t simply shop till you drop all day long – or can you? If your spouse wants to join you and you have no relatives to care for your younger children all day, then log onto www.care.com to locate local sitters who have been specially screened for child care (and adult care too). And, if you are worried about the high cost of hiring an expert nanny for the day, don’t be. Care.com promotion codes can be found on this site care.com page with great coupon codes for discounted prices on their services.
Tactic # 5: Indulge Yourself
Black Friday shopping can be a grueling adventure. Trying to maneuver those crowds, find what you are looking for and save a few bucks all at the same time can leave you hungry for some of your own pampering. Hey, I have a great idea. Order yourself some flowers using 1800Flowers coupon codes. I tried this one year and actually had a nice bouquet delivered to my home on Friday afternoon. When I fell through the doorway, laden with packages and exhausted from a day of sale scouring, I was greeted with a lovely bouquet of flowers just for me. What a treat! I enjoyed them so much that I have decided to do it again every year.
Did I say that I love Black Friday shopping? Despite its pitfalls and frustrations I can honestly say I find the adventure exhilarating. Still, I acknowledge that for some people it is simply an exercise filled with frustrations and dread. Hopefully, my winning shopping strategies will help you enjoy this year’s shopping excursion more. After all, there’s a great sale just waiting for – all you have to do is go for it! Happy Black Friday!