One my most treasured traditions is nearly upon us – Black Friday, baby! My mom and I have been venturing out on Black Friday to wait in the freezing cold lines and snap up our treasures every year together since I was five years old. Those were the days that were true Black Friday with JCPenny typically being the first store open at 4 am on Friday. Some targets remain on the list year after year – the Fred Meyer half off socks are a persistent that are even more desperately needed this year as Sampson has devoured all of ours; others have shifted throughout the decades – I recall a year that a discount 1GB flash drive at Staples claimed the top priority spot ion the list. 1GB!?! So much space!! I’ve had phones snatched out of my hands (I was 8) and laid my body over TVs to save them for when mom got there with the cart (I mayyy have been older for that one :P) However, the paramount constant that’s truly important in the Black Friday chaos is the time we spend together – shopping strategizing the lists, waiting in lines, giggling at the people watching that’s out in full force, and the 7:30 am Starbucks stop that concludes the shopping. No matter what we did or didn’t get, as we slip back into the house to find our boys still snoozing, I always have a smile on the face and treasured the hours my mamma and I got to enjoy each other’s company.
Below I’m sharing my top ten tactical tips to triumph in the Black Friday mayhem. When brainstorming the tips for this post, mom mentioned a hesitance to sharing all of our battle-earned secrets but I quickly assuaged those concerns. After all, just because you have the playbook doesn’t mean you can run the plays and win the game 😉 Keep in mind that it takes practice to be a Black Friday legend and if you approach the madness without anxiety and as just a bit of fun, you’ll already be a Black Friday success story. May the force be with you and the odds be ever in your favor. Sending love and luck to all!
- Write everything down. As you flip though the ads, prioritize your shopping list with your must-have items at the top. Then plan your trip in a way that gives you the best chance of getting everything before stock runs out. Also note where the item might be available elsewhere and be sure to write down what time all the stores open to plan ordering.
- Shop with a friend so you can split up and grab the items you’re looking for. Quantities are often limited so it’s smart to split up your lists so you can divide and conquer. One of you take apparel, the other electronics. Most deals are on the perimeter of the store so that’s where everyone congregates. Save time and avoid the crowds by cruising the lesser-traveled aisles, sans shopping cart. If you are going for a single big ticket item – say the front page TV doorbuster – have one person slip into the store and navigate quickly thorough the isles on foot to get to the doorbuster location. Then just hang out there – item safely claimed – while your partner with the shopping cart fights the crowds. 15 minutes later, and 14 minutes after all the items were gone, your partner in crime will show up, you load the item, and ride off into the sunset of success together. (My tale of laying my body over a TV box ringing a bell about now?)
- Use the Amazon Shopping app to do real-time price checks. Did you know over 17% of items on Black Friday will actually cost MORE than their current selling price on Amazon.com? Don’t get suckered. As much as it kills me to support Amazon in any fashion, this is simply a smart shopping technique.
- Expect everything but the doorbusters to be available online. After you’ve constructed your list, hit the websites of each store on Thursday and see what you can get online, free shipping included of course. Sometimes even the bigger doorbusters quietly show up online too! In the past couple of years, we’ve been able to find many of the Black Friday deals we were going after in stores, online for the same price. Unless you’re going for the hottest doorbusters, you often don’t need to leave your house for hot Black Friday prices. Feel free to go anyhow and clog up the isles people watching though. I won’t tell that you already got that CrockPot they are fighting over for the same price, yesterday.
- Download a Black Friday app to keep all the ads handy for on the fly inquiries or price checks. While I still recommend bringing the paper copies of the stores you know you will be going to, it’s nice to have all of them available at your fingertips.
- Price match with stores online ads. While most stores won’t price match other store’s prices on Black Friday, they will always price match their own online products (with the exception of Barnes and Noble). Particularly with electronics, you can find a cheaper price online than in the store but the item is often sold out online. No matter. Simply ask the cashier to price match their online price when in the store. Last year, we got the newest AppleTV at a $100 discount at Target in store – the same deal that was offered online, yet it was out of stock online. We got it in store…for the online price.
- Black Friday is the best time to get small appliances, hands down. Trust. Cameron and I had a full kitchen the first year we were married – stocked with everything from blenders to griddles, pasta makers to crepe machines, due to the Black Friday shopping mom and I did while I was in college.
- Make multiple purchases. Often stores will return the coupons back to you to continue using throughout the day (JoAnn’s, Michaels, JCPenny’s). Take advantage of this by breaking your items into separate purchases. Yes, it may be a bit irritating for those behind you but the sales associates will be accustomed to it and $10 off a purchase of $25 used once or three times!? You do the math.
- Shop with discounted gift cards from Raise.com and save an extra 5-25% on top of Black Friday prices. Once you know where you’ll be shopping, go to Raise.com and buy discounted gift cards. I purchased a $60 Macy’s gift card for $55.20, and while that 8% savings doesn’t seem like lot, when combined with Black Friday prices, the savings really add up! You can even use the Raise app to purchase gift cards on the go. Perfect thing to occupy yourself as you stand in that gigantic Black Friday checkout line. Buy the gift card in exactly the amount you need and redeem with the instantly delivered digital gift card code.
- Finally! The most important tip in the bunch. Be nice. That should be a given but this is a stressful day for your fellow shoppers and sales associates. Being a nice person will make the day more fun for you and those around you. Also, do you know how many times things have run up incorrectly and the sales associate has quickly corrected it without question simply because I was friendly. 🙂