And She Lived…

{November 25, 2008}   Tips For Black Friday Shopping

I don’t know about you, but I love to hit the Black Friday sales. I am not normally a morning person so it’s not easy to get myself out of bed in what is essentially still the middle of the night. Once I am up though, the excitement kicks in and I am ready to go.

Normally I go with my sister. I sleep at her house. We live on opposite ends of town and if I had to drive to her house, then I would have to get up even earlier. That’s not happening. So, the kids and I just crash over there Thanksgiving night. We get up around 3:30 and bundle up in warm clothes, coats, hats, gloves and scarves. We load up her SUV with thermoses of hot chocolate and some snacks and hit the road.

We always spend part of Thanksgiving planning out our route. The first store we go to depends on different factors. First, there is the fact that different stores open at different times. Most often the earliest time is 5am, which means being in line by 4am. Another factor is the special offers. Some stores will offer a free gift or gift card for the first shoppers through the door. If there is a special offer we can’t pass up on, then we will make that our first story, but ONLY if they have items that we want to buy. We won’t risk missing out on getting something we really want at a great price by not getting to it fast enough. Generally, we end up going to the same stores, in the same order each year.

Most often our first store is Walmart. There is a good reason for this, and I’ll share it with you. First of all, Walmart is open 24hours (at least it is around here). So, we can actually get in the store and wait where it is warm instead of outside in the cold. Walmart starts it’s BF sale at 5am, so it is one of the earliest. They rope off the items that are part of the BF sale, but you can wander the store and look around to see where they items you want are located. They do not keep things in their normal place, they set up huge displays in the aisles. It’s simply a matter of finding the right aisle. Or if you want electronics, getting in line to get to the electronics department, which they do close off until 5am. Another reason we start at Walmart, and this is the BIG reason, is that they price match. So, if you have an ad from one of the other stores and Walmart has that exact same item, you can get it at the competitor’s sale price by showing the ad. We do this a lot for some things that Best Buy has on sale, especially cd’s. We don’t go anywhere near Best Buy on Black Friday. That place is a warzone, and we want no part of that mess! Also, it is good for things at Toys R Us as well. Walmart does not have everything that TRU has, but you can find many of them there. Let’s face it, TRU is one more place that is going to be a warzone!

Kohl’s is right across the street from Walmart so we usually go there next, and because they don’t open until 6, we wait in line and get in early on that sale as well. It continues on like that. We go to the stores in order as we come to them while driving down the street. It sets a good pace and flows well this way. Be aware of where stores are located in relation to each other in order to be more efficient!

Another thing that helps us is that my brother in law always comes with us. He’s our driver. 😉 He will drop us off at the door so we don’t have to worry about parking. Once he finds a spot, he will join us in line.

We always make sure we have all the adds with us in case we forget something or have time or money left and decide to hit a store not on our original plan. Also, we need the ads for price matching at the stores that will do that.  Of course it’s a good idea to make a list of all items you want, which store they are at, and how much they cost. Have a back up plan though. If you miss something at one store, you can try to get it at the next best price that another store is offering.

This year, I had a chance to get sneak peek at the Black Friday ads. (more on that in a moment) I am actually considering going to Toys R Us this year. Scary… I know! That was the number one reason for my trip there on Sunday. I looked around and found where they put the things I want. So many stores will build huge displays of their BF sales items rather then keep them in their original place in an aisle. You can do this at TRU, walmart, Kohl’s… practically any store. If you walk through you will find big displays, and you can pretty much bet that those items will be in their BF sale!

So, how did I get a sneek peek? There are websites that list them, that’s how. My fave is Black Friday Info. They list by store or by category. They have a search option, so you can try to find a certain item and see all the stores offering that item on sale. Also, you can view a store’s sales by product listing (just the names of the items), product images (photos of the sale items), or by ad scan (a scanned copy of the actual ad). My favorite feature is that you can add things to your list by the simple click of a button. Now, I can simply print my list and be ready for Friday.

I did notice while wandering through TRU that there were items set up for the sale that are not listed on the Black Friday Info site, so I don’t think they have a complete list. Still, it helps me get a plan in place.

If you’re planning to go shopping on Black Friday, I wish you good luck in getting in on all the deals and happy napping that afternoon!


[…] And She Lived.  The author loves doing the Black Friday thing and she offers one very interesting suggestion:  if Wal-Mart is on your “hit list”, start there.  The reason?  Most of the bigger stores are open 24 hours a day, which gives you the chance to wait indoors for the sales to start.  Any tip that might cut down on the risk of frostbite is worth mentioning. […]

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