Skip Black Friday Lines

If you’re not going for a door-buster or a super-limited item, this trick could save you a lot of time when shopping on Black Friday.

Reader F.C. Farwell advises bringing a stickynote and a pen. Arrive at the store a few minutes after the doors open. Find your item(s) of choice. Place a note on it that says, “hold for” and write your name and phone number. Hand the item to a clerk. Come back to the store 5 hours later and retrieve your item and pay for it when there’s only 1-5 people in line.

F.C. swears that this has worked every time she used it.

Of course, we’ve never even been to a Black Friday event and have no idea if this will work for you. Who knows, he could be hyper-competitive buyer trying to sow losing strategies. — BEN POPKEN


Edit Your Comment

  1. Amry says:

    Hah. Sure, you could do this, if you’re okay with looking like an asshole to an already overwhelmed salesperson. Also, lots of places have “no-hold” policies on special deals.

    Seriously, what’s so horrible about waiting in line? If you need the deal so desperately, 30 minutes or less out of your life is surely worth it.

  2. aka Cat says:

    If you need the deal so desperately, 30 minutes or less out of your life is surely worth it.

    Not that I really disagree with you but… 30 minutes? The wait at the checkout line at Best Buy is 30 minutes on a *good* day.

    On Black Friday it’ll be more like two hours.

  3. torqueU says:

    Why not go the day before, buy what you want then come back sometime on Black Friday with your receipt and ask for the sales price?? Most stores will refund the difference if they have a sale going with lower prices on items you’ve bought in the last couple weeks. Of course, you should check the stores individual policy.

  4. randomspaces says:

    Most stores have their own “hold” slips that the staff fill out when an item is placed on reserve. And even if the generic stickynote were acceptable, the whole plan falls apart in the “hand the item to a clerk” part. Is she advocating cutting ahead of all the people waiting in line to hand the item to the person working the cash register? Nice. Hopefully some of those folks will catch her phone number from the stickynote an call her to let her know exactly why she deserves special consideration.

  5. Chairman-Meow says:

    If you are there @ 0 dark-thirty in the morning freezing your ass off waiting for a “bargin”, why not just go the extra mile and stand in line too? After all, didn’t you just *stand* in a line waiting for the store to open ?

    But what do I know, I do most of my shopping on Amazon.

  6. Mike says:

    Another trick that works nearly every time at BB…

    If you’ve got one or maybe two things, go to the exchange counter, and exchange your money for the stuff you’re buying. The person at that register won’t care as long as you don’t hip everyone else in the store to what you just got away with.

  7. LTS! says:

    So.. if you know what’s going on sale prior to Friday *cough* deal sites *cough*.. why not buy it ahead of time and then just come in with the receipt for a price match. The Customer Service counter is going to be a lot less crowded than the checkout.

    The only drawback is if they’ve pulled stock ahead of time. Some items will not be on the floor until Friday.. if that’s the case, deal with the lines or save your sanity and avoid the mess.

  8. The_Truth says:

    I take it you consumerist writer types are going to actually be at these black friday events right?
    Writing stories from the front lines, being trampled by hordes of 600pound women as they desperatly try to buy a $15 dvd player…

  9. Pelagius says:

    I’m with FTE. I just don’t get this at all. In the age of “Woot” and other online deals, why subject yourself to the hassle? My vision of Hell is very much like shopping on Black Friday. Ugh.

  10. Anonymously says:

    This is Social Engineering in action.

  11. RandomHookup says:


    Actually, you won’t get trampled by any 600 pound women at BF. Run over by one on a scooter, however, is another story…

  12. adamondi says:

    If I was a clerk at a store and someone tried to pull this BS, I would pull the sticky note off, crumple it up, and then laugh.

    If I was a customer watching someone try this, then I would probably raise a huge stink about it. I hate it when people think they should get to use little tricks like this to screw everyone else over.

  13. Geisrud says:

    Adamondi – I’d do the same, but I’d crumple up the note after the person turns away. That gives them the satisfaction of thinking they beat the system, yet the angst of their item not being available when they return.

    This also gives other customers a chance to see that I’m removing the note.

  14. etinterrapax says:

    Just thinking about going anywhere near a store on Black Friday makes me want to take a nap. I loathe people. Why would I spend time with hordes of them to save a few measly bucks on electronics? Amazon, baby.

  15. Craig says:

    Worst advice of the year.

  16. The day after Turkey day was MADE for sleeping in, lounging around, and eventually getting out of the house that night, to go out, and drink, and enjoy the fact that you still have two more days off.

  17. timmus says:

    What Bon Jour said. Who’s profiting on Black Friday… retailers or the consumer? Better to sleep in and find good deals online… there’s a better selection of non-crap stuff, too.

  18. Elaine Chow says:

    Isn’t there some kind of Monday deal for all those online retailers anyways? Why can’t we all just wait till the Monday after Thanksgiving, where, for a nominal shipping charge, we can get the same things for a similar price and NOT have to deal with finding parking/wrestling your goods from a 300 lb suburban momma?

  19. Rob O. says:

    I’ve been in the trenches (as a consumer) at Best Buy the last 2 Black Fridays. Suffice to say, you’ll need to have your butt in line well over 2 hours before the doors open if you want even the slightest chance at the hotter items. Many people camped out all night – yup, 6-8 hours – to make sure they were among the first few in line so they’d get a shot at the “best deals.”

    Once you get inside, you’d better have a partner who can immediately jump in the checkout line that’ll already be snaking around the perimeter of the store or you’ll be standing in that line for another 2 hours – minimum.

    I think I’m boycotting the whole mess this year. The BF ads just aren’t appealing enough to coax me out into the cold night air. I’ll be sitting on my sofa enjoying a warm cuppa joe and snickering about the greedy drones who stood in line all night…

  20. spin_sycle says:

    Do bars have specials for Black Friday?

    Cuz that’s where I’ll be….