Monday, November 17, 2008

Black Friday Shopping

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”

Do you not just love this Christmas song? Does it not just bring you a feeling of Christmas? Do you envision little children with rosy cheeks peering into storefronts looking at the displays? Do you see women with red woolen coats bustling about with large shopping bags full of gifts? Well, that’s what I picture in my head. It’s the perfect song to get me in the mood for….SHOPPING!

Are you ready for that yet? Are your purse strings screaming because they are being pinched so tightly shut? Can I help you ease some of the strain?

Let me tell you how I save money on my Christmas shopping.


Don’t run away yet! Please don’t click the screen off. Please bear with me for the next few minutes. I aim to show you how this day can be fun, profitable and truly a good experience for your holiday shopping. Give me just a feeeeew minutes to share with you how I make that black day an exciting day that I look forward to each year.

Here’s how I do it.

The List
You’ve eaten your turkey. The pumpkin pie has settled. You are lazing around the living room enjoying the time with your family. Well, once you get a chance, go get yourself the newspaper. Inside of it you will find a plethora of ads. Not just your normal Sunday paper ads, but ads for every store you can think of. Drugstores, craft stores, bookstores and all the clothing stores you can dream of. These are your resources.

Get a pen and a piece of paper and get ready to write. First of all, write down the store name. Then, next to that, write down what time the store opens. If you are so inclined, also jot down any promotions that may be offered. For instance, for the first 100 customers at a particular department store, each customer received a $10 gift card to the store. (This happened to my hubby and I once. We both got gift cards so that was $20 savings off of our bill!) You want to write things like that down so you don’t forget. Then, go through the add. Pour over it all. Write down each and every thing that interests you. Make sure to include the item and the price or percentage off. Here’s an example of what I would do.

Macy’s - open at 5 am - 50% off coupon to first 100 customers
Men’s flannel pajama pants - $6
Chaps ties - $10

Your list will defiantly be your guide throughout your day. Once completed, figure out what store has the deals that you don’t want to miss for anything in the world. Figure out what time the store opens. Is there a store that opens earlier that has some great deals as well? Figure out what you can’t live without and start at that store. Here’s a hint. If it’s electronics you are after, start there and start early. 3 am is not unheard of to get in line for an electronics item. Don’t forget to cross the items off your list as well!!

Grab a Buddy
Shopping is always more fun with a friend. Each year, my sister Jenn and her hubby go and Shane and I either tag along with them or meet them in passing at different stores. Just depends on the year. But, it is always great to have someone to chat with in line or as you wait outside of the store. Now, please understand this. My hubby is a plumber. He raises dogs. He wears Carhart, camo, and chaps. He hunts. He’s a mans man. And he really enjoys Black Friday shopping. So much so that we are driving five hours south of our home to Michigan to go shopping. It was his idea.

Another reason to grab a buddy is to have someone hold your place in line. Usually this is not your best friend who wants to do her shopping as well. No, you’ll need someone like your hubby, your kid, your grandma….whoever. Afraid they will balk at the idea of getting the store at 4am? Bribe them! Offer to get them a coffee. A new shirt. A video game. People, this stuff is way on sale! Spend a little so you don’t have to wait an hour in line.

The Day Of
First of all, dress warmly. This is not the day to try out your new high heeled boots or thin knit sweater. No. Today is the day you wear your thickest socks, your winter boots, warm sweatshirt and thick mitts. Throw on a scarf and a hat. Gals, you’ll probably be waiting outside for over an hour (maybe much longer in some cases) and you want to be roasty toasty. Maybe you will want to get some hand warmers…those little packets that hunters use to keep their mits warm. Fashion isn’t the key. Be cute, sure. But honestly, be warm first. Dress in layers if you are worried about overheating.

Bring a good purse. A larger one if possible. Maybe a cute tote bag. Why, you ask? Well, from experience, one year, the handle on my purse broke. Came right apart and I was left holding my purse all day. Not fun when you want your hands free to get your items. Also, you will want to have lots of room for your adds, list, water bottle and maybe some room to throw in your hat, mitts and scarf while you shop.

Eat some breakfast! Maybe you want to hit the drive thru. Or have some leftover Thanksgiving rolls. Eat a little protein. And get yourself the most loveliest, largest Pumpkin Spice Latte. It helps to keep you warm. J

When you get into the store…whatever you do, get a cart. I’m not joking. Please don’t miss this step. One year I was getting my parents a new set of towels, washcloths and hand towels as their gift. I was purchasing eight of each. I grabbed what I needed and waited in line for 45 minutes. My arms were so sore by the time I got to the register. Along the way I had dropped six washcloths and all of the hand towels…and never noticed. The following year, I wised up and grabbed a cart. So there I am, cart full, arms free and I noticed that the woman behind me had an armload of towels. She had the good sense to ask me if she could put her towels in my cart. I of course let her and she was able to leave the store with all of the towels and washcloths. Yes. Get a cart.

Tips and Tricks From a Seasoned Veteran
Check your ads. Is the “deal” really worth it? For instance. Those towels that I mentioned earlier? Well, they were buy one get one free. Great deal, or so I thought. Until I realized that every few weeks this store (Kohls) list that same “deal” or they list each towel 50% off…which is essentially a bogo when you add up the half price of both towels. Not exactly a deal to wake up so early for. Know your stores and get familiar with their weekly ads.

Check the drugstore ads for everyday household items that you normally use. Do you have a coupon that can be combined with it? For instance, one year a drugstore was selling Crest Whitestrips for $10. (This was when they were fairly new.) I had a $5 off coupon so I got a normally $25 item for $5!

Price match. Wal-Mart price matches items with other stores. Make sure that you have your ad and bring it with you to the checkout to show the cashier that those DVD’s are really $3.98 at Best Buy. I like to buy movies but will not stand at Best Buy for two hours to get their deals. No thanks! I instead, write down the titles I want that are listed in their ad, then head over to Wal-Mart to price match my items. This works for CD’s, store brand food items, beauty products, household products and appliances. Just make sure it is the EXACT SAME THING. Those Whitestrips I bought - price matched at Wal-Mart.

Are you worried about a mass mess of people pushing and running as fast as they can throwing elbows and punches just to get that computer for $300? Well, some stores will present their shoppers who are in line with a ticket for that particular item to prevent that mass mess of crowding. Many merchants have learned and do not want the fighting and shoving. Last year, Shane and I were second in line for a pillow top mattress set that was originally priced at $1000. It was on sale for $200. About 10 minutes before the store opened, the manager came through and asked each person in line what they were there to buy and gave out an appropriate ticket to get that item. Once the tickets were gone, no more big ticket items.
Be very sure that you get to the store before the deals are over. Some are only on for a couple of hours. Some are an all day thing. Most are done by 10 am. Be mindful of your watch. Don’t forget one.

Don’t be afraid to walk. Granted, when you roll up to a store at 4 am, sure, you’ll get a good parking spot. But an hour later when you head a few blocks down, that may not be the case. Sometimes you just have to find a spot and get out and go. This is also where your buddy comes in handy. They can drop you off at the door and then meet you in the store later. Sometimes, by the time they find a spot, you are done with most of your shopping, they can hop in line and save you a space, you meet up, check out and are on your way! Like my run-on sentence?

I am usually always done with my shopping by 10 am. If you figure that I usually start at stores that open at 5 am…well, that’s five hours worth of shopping that I can bang out. I then have the rest of the day to rest and enjoy my new purchases. You better believe that I buy some things for me!

And lastly, this day greatly depends on your attitude. If you are going to grumble and complain the whole day, stay home. We shoppers don’t want your attitude ruining our day. The deal isn’t worth it if you are going to be a crab. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with some neat people in line. They too always seem excited about Black Friday shopping.

Maybe your shopping is already done - perhaps you can pick up some birthday gifts, wedding presents, shower gifts, a treat for you! Let this be a fun day.

Here are a few websites that have the 2008 ad listing available. I'm not sure of the accuracy of these websites...but they seem pretty legit to me. They even have photos of the ads themselves. Maybe you can get a jump on your list making. From here I have discovered that my favorite store, Kohls, opens at 4am and has a Kitchen Aid mixer on sale for $159 with a $20 mail in rebate. That's my goal this year...a Kitchen Aid mixer!
Black Friday Ads
Black Friday Info

Remember the joy of the Christmas season. Be courteous and kind and quiet possibly the gal next to you will do the same. Smile at your cashier and thank her or him for the job well done. Speaking as someone who has worked Black Friday at Wal-Mart, it really is nice when the customer is friendly and kind. You really do want to serve them well.

Loaded with your tips and tricks, I hope that you can truly enjoy this day!


Belinda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shannon said...

This post got me all excited! I love shopping on that day! :)

Sarah said...

Mandi, What a great post! I am so exited to go. And a Kitchen Aid Mixer... What an awesome deal. I am thinking of printing these out and bringing them with me. I posted a link to your blog on the Our Home For the Holidays message boards. Is that ok with you?
Yesterday I was at zellers with my mom and we saw those wall words (the same ones at linens n' things), they were priced srom $20-$30. Just thought I would let ya know. The dogs are doing good. They haven't been sleeping in their kennels, The little one has been crying in the night, so I've just been sleeping in the spare room they will sleep at the foot of the bed, but last night Bee went and slept in Tags kennel all through the night. And she went in on her own! Its freezing here! Not alot of snow, but seriously it is like FREEZING outside.

Enjoy the rest of your trip:)

Angie said...

Girl. you really know your stuff when it comes to shopping! I have never gone out shopping too much on this day, but you are kinda making me want to! Great tips - thanks!

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

What a great post :)!! Love the tips, I never would have thought of half of that!

Nicole said...

I don't remember the last time I shopped the day after Thanksgiving. Your post almost has me talked into it, there is nothing like a great bargain!

Genevieve said...

My mum and I go every year but this year I've been told by the docs to stay put. If I go I could compromise my immune system. SO it's virtual shopping I shall go. Ugh, it's not the same! I miss shopping. Maybe by spring? lol

Hope you get outrageous deals!

btw- I responded to ur comment on my blog. :) Thanks honey. I so appreciate your prayers!!!

Saucy said...

You really are a PRO! In fact, I might have to reduce my status to amateur after reading this post. We live in Canada too so no Black Friday for us this year although we will be in Chicago in December and I anticipate the sales to generally be in swing.

Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful said...

Oh my are singin' my song girl! I love me some Black Friday shopping. It is a tradition with my sisters and I. And we do it the exact same way you described. LOVE IT!

p.s.I found you through Domestic Fashionista...great blog!

Sarah said...

thanks for all the great tips-- this always overwhelms me and i feel like i could be doing it a better way--- i think i will have to employ your techniques this year!!!

Mandi said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. I will have to link you from my blog. I am also a seasoned veteran at this Black Friday thing, and my husband, who hates to shop just like your hubby, also loves this one day a year. The tips are great and I follow the same techniques. Way to go on being featured on Tip Junkie!

Chris said...

My heart is beating so fast after reading this. I consider myself a "seasoned" shopper, so I was very proud to find that I do all the suggestions you made. Great minds/shoppers think alike. Michigan for Black Friday? Welcome!! :)

Charlotte said...

I am getting excited about Black Friday! I love your tips. I do pretty much the same thing as you, only I usually go alone and if I'm only getting one or two things, I don't get a cart. At Walmart with a bajillion other people, the cart just slows you down! :) I'll definitely have to check out the price matching, too. That's awesome! Here's one tip for shopping at Target: avoid long lines by checking out at the jewelry counter.


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