Black Friday has long been a favorite holiday of mine (yes, to me it's a holiday). It might be one of my favorite days of the year; the official start of the shopping season, deals at every turn, an excuse to shop all morning.
Let me clarify that I'm not one of those nutty shoppers waiting for Walmart to open, risking my life as I run for one of the five laptops on sale for $99. I have a slightly different, safer approach to Black Friday.
Don't leave at 9pm on Thanksgiving. Don't leave at midnight. Leave at 4am.
Ever since stores have started the "open at midnight" madness (or even worse, they open on Thanksgiving), the serious deal seekers shop at midnight. By the time 4am rolls around they are already stopping for breakfast. The past two years I've arrived at Kohls at 5am, and waited in minimal lines.
I'm being serious.
I get all the same deals. Maybe the extreme "doorbusters" are sold out, but the toys, frames, socks, clothes and everything else I need are still there and still ON SALE.
Last year, I pulled into Target at 6am. It was a ghost town. Yes, the deeply discounted Christmas jammies were severely picked through, and it's possible all the flat screens were sold out. But the Disney toys? Check. The knock off UGGS? Check. And the best part? 50% off.
My best Black Friday tips for anyone who wants to brave the madness:
1. Plan to arrive at a store a few hours after it's opened. Don't stand in lines. If you are desperate for that one amazing deal, remember you have plenty of shopping weeks ahead and there will be another great deal.
Maybe not quite as cheap, but cheap enough that you can avoid being stuck in a person sandwich as you wait in line outside a store in the bitter cold.
This was Target at 7am last year. And I still bought all my goodies at deep discounts.
2. Bring a stroller, not a baby. Use this for your purchases at stores that will be low on carts (Kohls comes to mind).
3. Make it fun. Grab a buddy, get a coffee and take your time.
4. Research what stores will have the best deals on the items you need the most. Stay in one major area, don't spend your time trying to drive all over the county. Pick a few stores close together, write down what you need or want at each location, and you'll be shocked at what else you find.
5. If all else fails, or you don't have ANY desire to leave the house Black Friday, remember most deals can also be found online. And Cyber Monday is aimed at all the folks who sit at their desk Monday morning and think, "Oh crap, it's the holidays. I better start shopping!"
Happy almost Black Friday. Don't forget to hang those Christmas lights the first mild day you have...you'll thank me the day Thanksgiving when your house is happily lit and your neighbor is freezing their tush on the roof.
Best Black Friday Sites:
The Black Friday.com
Black Friday Ads.Net