When I think of Black Friday, I’m always reminded of Arnold’s movie Jingle All the Way. Of course, the movie’s set on Christmas eve. And the whole premise that the toughest action star of the times couldn’t just walk into a store with bazooka in hand and demand a Turbo-Man without all the hassles he went through was rather far-fetched.
But the vision of people camping out in front of a store all night in the November chill, not sleeping a wink for fear of losing their place in line, and then pushing the doors down when the 8:00 am bell rung — then finally, charging toward their isles of choice like an NFL football running back on steroids is what many from generations past remember quite vividly. Several stories abound of unsanctioned boxing matches in the middle of a Walmart or Best Buy to get the last heavily-discounted gadget or children’s toy.
Aside from a padded helmet and warm clothing for the wait, here are a few tips on how to stay safe and maximize your time on the ground while doing the Black Friday circuit this year:
1. Have a Plan.
While many stores will in fact be competing with each other to provide deals on the most popular items, that doesn’t mean that Costco’s going to be the best place to score a 50″ big screen for a couple hundred dollars. Most, if not all retailers have been advertising their deals online for the better part of a month now. So there’s no excuse for not having the lay of the land already pre-planned and committed to paper when the 27th arrives. Know where you’re going and approximately when (traffic delays notwithstanding).
2. Timing Could Mean Everything.
There are some downright lunatics out there when it comes to Black Friday deals. Some of these people will literally trample you or a store worker to death to get what they want. It’s insane. In fact, I’d recommend not going out at all on this fated day, but if you’re reading this then you’re going to do it anyway. The time you arrive at a store should be based on t he planning you’ve already done. Arrive at the store with the biggest ticket items you want to score big time deals on first. Don’t be like these two nutty women and show up 22 days in advance (though you’re behind the 8-ball by now if that’s your plan). Just get to where the biggest deals are first or your entire day will be ruined — both emotionally and (possibly) financially.
3. Clip Coupons.
This is a bit old-school for my tastes. However, we don’t all get hundreds of flyers in our mailbox every month because they don’t apply to our lives, do we? Just “in case” there’s a dispute of some kind over what was promised in an ad and what the store delivers on — clip the coupons or take a snap of the QR code in your smart device. This tip can come in real handy if the store makes an error or changes their mind last minute. Normally, it would be a “too bad, so sad” thing for the jilted consumer. However, if you have the evidence in hand, no intelligent manager will risk the fallout that may ensue when you aren’t given what was promised — especially with the mom and pop shops where reputation is all they have left to get customers through their doors.
4. Go Local.
If your local community is anything like mine, you’ve likely seen the title as a mantra printed all over town. Going local isn’t just about supporting local businesses who think there’s even a chance that big boxers like Walmart will ever fade out of preference with consumers. No, going local on Black Friday gives you the opportunity to safely insulate yourself from the aggressive crowds that will be rampaging the aforementioned retailers. It also affords the opportunity to stock up on novelty items and stocking stuffers for Christmas that you’ll never find elsewhere. Best, you don’t really have to include these stores in your schedule, just get there before they close. One of my favorite things to do is travel from town to town and shop their downtown prior to Christmas.
5. Go Social.
Not Instagramming all the wicked deals you’re getting and peeving off your friends who’re stuck working and can’t get to the stores they want to shop at. Rather, add all the stores you plan to shop at on the 27th and monitor their updates for last minute deals and tips on how to get the merchandise you want most.
There are so many, I can’t honestly in any good faith start to recommend one over another. Use the apps your friends recommend or hit up Google for whatever advice it can offer. Web apps like TGIBlackFriday.com and RetailMeNot.com are always good if you’re not into downloading a lot of bloated junk to your iPhone or Droid.
7. Shop Online.
I really don’t think you can find many deals in-store (other than the mom and pop shops) that you can’t find an even better deal for online at Amazon, etc. Do the smart thing and let lower blood pressure and the absence of headaches be your reward. Shop online and let the masses trample each other while you sit at home sipping a fine wine or your favorite beer while enjoying time with your family.
Just ask this guy:
Main Image Credit: Laurie/Flickr