HOWTO: Make Black Friday Count

If you like jostling in a sea of shoppers for limited deals and waiting in the cold, Black Friday is the shopping holiday for you! Here’s how to get the most of Friday, November 24.

• Research the deals you want ahead of time. Fat Wallet is a great place to start.
• Study the leaked circulars.
Comparison shop. Just because it’s in the Black Friday ad, doesn’t mean it’s a good price.
• Stores will often hand out vouchers for first-in line “door busters” with the biggest savings. To snag these, you’ll have to get there early, as in, camp out the night before.

• Chair
• Friends/Family – snag vouchers, hold your spot in line for bathroom breaks.
• Coat, mittens, gloves, hot cocoa thermos, hot pockets, hot tamales, whatever you need to stand outside in the cold for hours upon hours.

Most importantly, don’t calculate the time/hassle cost of standing in long lines and elbowing your way through competitive shoppers. You’ll just get depressed.

Veterans, got any tips to add? What are your Black Friday plans this year? Or will you sit back and laugh from the comfort of the internet? — BEN POPKEN


Edit Your Comment

  1. dukerayburn says:

    Stay away from the big retailers unless they have a TRULY phenomenal deal. The hassle and even violence that you may encounter at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, or Target will not be worth it. I recommend hitting the less obvious stores. OfficeMax, Staples, maybe Circuit City if your local store is pretty slow. You run the risk of actually being injured at the major stores, and even if you get that $300 laptop that’s a horrible way to start the holiday season.

  2. adamondi says:

    I prefer to sit back an laugh while doing most of my Christmas shopping online. I hate going to most retail stores even when they are nearly empty. I can’t imaging actually looking forward to being part of a seething mass of bargain-shoppers on Black Friday.

  3. emjsea says:

    I finished all my Christmas shopping online two weeks ago. Now, I have two months of luxury to wrap those suckers. I won’t go near a mall or other kind of store from the end of November through the beginning of January.

  4. RandomHookup says:

    Get a job at one of the retailers and then hide the good shit from the customers. Comedy gold!

  5. solmssen says:

    elbowing your weigh?

    I resemble that remark!

  6. trixare4kids says:

    I’m with emjsea ~ I won’t do any shopping other than groceries until after the holidays. I’m one of those really annoying people who shop for Christmas throughout the year as I see happen to see things either in stores or online.

    I started with buying my Christmas cards on sale in January and finished getting presents for everyone on my list back in Sept/October. I have never, ever, ever ventured out to a store on Black Friday and I intend to keep it that way. It’s just not worth the hassle in my opinion.

  7. Mauvaise says:

    I will be hiking in the Grand Canyon on Black Friday. Far away from any retail madness and that’s just the way I like it.

  8. Phil says:

    I envy you, Mauvaise…

  9. Anonymously says:

    Painting yourself in Blackface is completely optional.

  10. emjsea says:

    I even get my groceries delivered now, thanks Safeway!

  11. Celeste says:

    Add me to the chorus of ‘doing it online’. I can’t stand the idea of trying to navigate desperate holiday shopping crowds. I’m not fond of actually shopping in a store to begin with – trying to shop at Tyson’s Corner on Black Friday? I’d sooner hand-knit every single person on my christmas list an afghan.

  12. VA_White says:

    I worked at Best Buy during college. My first day of work was Black Friday. OMG. It was insanity. There were scanners in the ad for $10 after rebate and we had about 250 of them. The crazies stormed the door and surrounded the poor guy handing out the scanners. He had to get on the ladder to hand down the upstock and we had to get four LP guys to surround the ladder and keep the customers from knocking him off the ladder.

    We also had desktop computer packages for $200 and we had to hand out chits for those. People fought, argued, shoved, cursed, and otherwise made complete a$$es out of themselves over cheapo Acer computers that were sure to break by January 1st.

    After surviving that day at work, I vowed to never shop on Black Friday even if the stuff was free. People are crazy. And mean.

  13. Clare says:

    I’ll give an actual suggestion: If you do go out to the stores, be polite to the the help. They’ve got the hookup, as the kids like to say.

    Last year, I got up at 4 in the morning to go to Wal-Mart to buy a cheap LCD TV for my mom for Christmas. When I got to Wal-Mart at 4:20, the stock of the advertised TV was gone, along with the stock of the model they were substituting for the same price.

    I saw a guy in a blue smock and gave him my nicest smile: “Excuse me, could you tell me if you have any of the LCD TVs left? The one from the ad?” He went in the back and gave me one of the two they were hiding from the crowd. I firmly believe I got it because I was polite to him.

  14. flyover says:

    I’ll be ordering wine online for gifts, with my 35% employee discount, delivered straight home so I don’t have to travel with it…Suckas!

  15. WindowSeat says:

    I’ll be making Cashew Brittle on Black Friday. The Family instituted a hand-made gift only policy a few years back for everybody except the little kids and it’s working out great, the Holidays are fun again.

  16. Heymoe says:

    If you use a Citi Diamond card, you can pricematch a lot of BF prices (nothing with rebates, though). As long as you have a paper ad from a B&M retailer, they’ll match the price up to a $100 per item refund. All you have to do is purchase/order the item during the time the B&M ad is valid. So you can sit at home with the newspaper and order online and not worry about the theatrics at the box box stores.

  17. Kat says:

    Last 3 years, I’ve finished all my Christmas shopping in October, online at sites with free shipping. No hassle.

  18. mittens and cocoa are for suckers. anyone who tries braving those crowds without packing some real heat is nuts.

  19. Juancho says:

    Try shopping online at the websites of retailers you might hit on Black Friday. Also keep in mind that some of the BF prices are good through the whole weekend, so read the fine print.

    Last year, Best Buy had the Arrested Development seasons sets and some other stuff that I wanted on sale for like $14.99 each over the holiday. All the BBs in the Cleveland area ran out of the first season. I got it, along with some other stuff I wanted, for the same sale price online. Sure, I had to pay shipping, but I still got it cheaper than the regular price, and didn’t have to deal with the crowds. I’ve since done this at some other stores.

  20. I have never, ever, ever ventured out to a store on Black Friday and I intend to keep it that way. It’s just not worth the hassle in my opinion.

    Out of curiosity, how would you know if it’s worth the hassle if you’ve never done it? Personally (and believe me, I know this is weird), I kinda like staying up all night with a friend or my brother and doing something weird like this. The means are sometimes funner than the ends.

  21. Mr. Gunn says:

    Here’s a tip, which I’ve never tried. Let me know if you use it and it works. Go in the store the night before and see if the items are on the shelf, just not marked down yet. Hide it somewhere behind other boxes or somewhere else in the store, if you can get away with it. Come back later in the day when the crowds have dispersed and retrieve your crap. Profit.

  22. SpamFighterLoy says:

    Better tip: buy the stuff the week before BF using a credit card. On the day, go to the customer service with the receipt and card – ask for pricematch. Most, if not all, stores have 30-day pricematch guarantees (if it goes on sale within 30 days after you bought it, you can get the sale price). Some are idiots about it and make you get the manager, but almost all will honor it. Using the credit card is a backup, because you can always threaten (or actually use) the pricematch feature on your credit card.

    Target is the best for this. Office Max is the worst. Wal-mart I’ve never tried.

    This also helps prevent you from buying a bunch of stuff that’s not really that great a deal. To go to the store twice for it, it had better be a great deal. That’s a prime retail strategy – tables full of gift merch in the aisles priced OK but not great. While you’re waiting in the long lines, you get to look at it again and again and again…

  23. juri squared says:

    Thank you, Clare. I wholly agree with the “be nice to the help” mentality. Nobody in their right mind wants to work that day, so they will be much happier and therefore go further out of their way for you when you show even common courtesy.

    As someone who will most likely be working retail on Black Friday (God help me), I know I will be nicer to people who act their age.

  24. akling4 says:

    Obviously on-line shopping is the way to go, but an all-night BF adventure is worth it for nothing more than pure entertainment. Last year, my siblings and I camped out (with food, drinks and books) in a 24-hour super wal-mart to buy the hp laptops and desktops. The computers themselves aren’t really anything to get excited about, but the experience was unforgettable. We’re going back this year, not to buy anything in particular, but just because we had so much fun last year.

    My advice: be prepared, be nice to the workers, if possible, take family and friends along for an all-night party, do your waiting inside, and above all, keep in mind that NO BF deal is a matter of life and death- keep your cool and have fun!

  25. okay, i really like the “hide the sale stuff the day before” plan. someone should try that and let us know if it works.

    too bad some of the best sale stuff is kept behind the counter or in locked cases or stockrooms.

  26. dukerayburn says:

    Grady, Spam, nice ideas. I might try both of those. Can you ask for a pricematch on a debit card?