It's one week away - the shopping trip that starts the season. Deals too juicy not to oogle at, even just a little tiny bit. It takes some serious planning or your going to find yourself empty handed or going home with deals you didn't want (AKA: What was the wait time in that return line again?)
This is a very well planned trip for us Price Snobs. Keep in mind we get a high off the thrill of the hunt. So if you don't, it may not be worth it. (Don't forget our previous post
about pricing and Camelcamelcamel.com
And please. We only run people over in the store if a.) They try to steal your kid b.) They try to steal your husband. Now let's shop.(Be sure to go to I hart the Mart's Black Friday shopping guide to hear all about how he thinks you don't have to do much planning at all) Plan Your Route
This is one of the obvious ones that most of you probably do. But just sayin' anyways - plan your route and make your time/gas count. Keep in mind whatever store you go to, there's probably going to be at least 45 minutes in line (and I'm being generous here - it most certainly can be an hour or more). Always Try Online First
Give it a shot - at least no one here can physically steal kids or husbands (just their identities). So, so many deals that you see in the ad will go LIVE online at 9pm or midnight. Sometimes it's advertised that they WON'T, but they really are. (See our tips from last year on how to prepare for online crowds
.) Bust out your Coke Zero's and get ready to shop for all that in store stuff at 9pm and midnight. REMEMBER: 9pm is eastern midnight. (Unless your hitting up the stores that open 9pm on Thanksgiving. My hubby does, but I don't.) Don't Get the HOT-HOT Deals
Then we go to sleep, wake up at 4am, let the baby sitter in, and stand in a line. For five hours? No, way. First off all - all those ridiculously low priced computers and other mumbo jumbo aren't top grade. Quality over quantity, padawons. Second of all - only the crazy people on the news get those deals. Leave 'em for the crazies and leave your tents in storage till summer. Go for the MEDIUM-HOT/LOW-HOT Deals
I mean, most of those "medium" Black Friday deals would be HOTTER than HOT any other day, right? These are the good ones that WILL sell out fast, but you have a dying chance at getting. As long as your in line about an hour before the doors open, you'll probably have a shot at it. I've done it that way for years and I always get most my list. Don't Get a Cart
Even if your item isn't a mad-dasher, you may regret getting a cart. Most stores will be so packed that there probably won't be any fresh oxygen to spare, let alone cart pushing space (although we give a cheer to Lacey Target last year for having a totally awesome system). It Takes a Village
Ok, maybe not a village, but you're gonna want people. In two's or three's. The first person is the "balloon man". Balloon man starts standing in line right away and will work as a drop off location since you won't have a cart. Attach a tall helium balloon to their belt so you'll be able to locate them easily (and cell phones don't hurt, either). If balloon man starts to get too close to the cashier, just bump back 15 people or so. Trust me, no one complains when you go BACKWARDS in line.Person number two goes to
electronics and person three goes to toys (or where ever your heart desires).
Then, be sure to have other recruits grab stuff for you at other stores. Make a deal with friends to grab stuff from their store for you and you'll grab stuff from your store for them. Not only does it save you time and gas, but it'll probably get you the deal that you never would have gotten. Watch out for the Packers, the Bears and the SteelersNow you have to watch out for the lunatics who will probably eat you and your stuff for dinner.
The "Packers" are the ones who think like a toddler: Everything's mine. You can spot these crazies really easily. They have everything stuffed underneath their arms and they're grabbing whatever seems to jump out at them. Unless you keep your spoils close, they're gonna think mistake your stuff for theirs and grab it.The "Bears" are the angry ones. Don't let them think for a second that your stuff was not yours. Otherwise they will maul you for that item you already claimed. If you see one barreling down the isle for the last Tickle Me Elmo - you might want to make sure you're nails are sharper than theirs before diving in.The last are the "Steelers"
. They'll just steal your stuff. Plain and simple. They'll steal the underwear from right outta your pants if you let them. Toys you have or haven't purchased, or cash flowing out of your purse like milk and honey. Don't make it easy for them.
ENJOY yourself and have fun. Remember, we're all broke and we all want deals. It's tough times right now, but we all know toys and T.V.'s are not worth loosing a toe over. And get the deals you WANT, not just because you CAN! Happy hunting!