When you mention Black Friday, you get three different reactions. 1. "I Love it. I have my list and rip into those stores - I have no mercy!" 2. "You have to be certifiable to go out that day. I hate crowds and am way too smart to throw myself into that madness." 3. "What an awful concept. People screaming, fighting and stampeding just trying to save a couple of dollars. The parking, the crowds, the frustrating experience. Are you kidding, do I go out on Black Friday? Of course I do. But I hate it."
There are ways to survive and actually not hate Christmas by the end:
Attitude: You have to know that this is really crazy that you're shopping in the middle of the night in big crowds. If you look at it like you're all in it together, it's actually really funny and you'll find most of your fellow shoppers want to laugh along with you.
Have a Plan and a Back-Up Plan: Lay out the stores strategically before you go out. Line up the first stores by the time they open and their proximity to one another. Not a good idea to spend most of your time driving around and back tracking. Be prepared to abort your mission. If you pull up to a store and see 400 people in line - take a pass.
No Purse: You don't need another thing weighing you down!
Don't have a MUST-HAVE Item: Don't put anything on your list that you'd be crushed if you didn't find it. If you want it that bad, so do others. It's going to be gone and your whole morning is ruined.
Sneakers and Giant Bags: Two things I don't leave the house without. Comfy shoes because you have to park 3 miles from the door and you'll be freezing your ass off while you're running to the warmth of the over-crowded store. Also, a giant fabric bag (think beach-bag), you can serpentine through the isles much faster, don't have to juggle 20 games, and don't have to waste time stalking shoppers for their cart.
Tag Team: On the big stores when you know you'll be in long lines, take a runner. When you have your basics, wait in line and have your runner go back and get things you've forgotten. Be prepared. You'll definitely get dirty looks from the guy behind you.
NO KIDS: Don't bring kids to the insanity. If you don't have a sitter, then sit out!
Stores to Avoid: Best Buy. You get the die-hards there. You have nut-jobs that camp for days before the opening. Walmart. They have good deals, but still haven't managed to be able to move the check out line. Always be thinking cost/reward. Toys 'R' Us. They've gotten better at organizing their line and getting it moving, but I find the shoppers there are the meanest. Maybe it's the momma bear coming out and wanting to get a certain item for their baby, but I'm telling you, those parents are vicious. Just think about news coverage from BF. When talking about people waiting for days, they're always at Best Buy. When they're talking about fights, overcrowding and mayhem, they're typically at Walmart.
Take the Road Less Traveled: Go to the smaller stores, or stores in the mall that don't have huge advertisements. They often have the best deals and no lines because nobody goes there or thinks about them.
Don't Ditch Thanksgiving: Most of the stores are pushing the envelope and opening Thanksgiving night instead of early Friday morning. Don't skip the meal in order to get out there earlier. Simply said: Priorities.
Stay tuned for the next segments of survival:
- Monday (November 19th): 5 Things NOT to buy on Black Friday
- Tuesday (November 20th): Best Deals out there
- Wednesday (November 21st): Looking forward to Cyber Monday