Ah, the signs of fall: pumpkin spice treats, the color of the leaves as they change, the coolness of the air and signing up for the Black Friday leaked ad websites. I love Black Friday. Everything about it: the planning, the strategy, the deals.
I’ve patiently tracked prices of home appliances and saved thousands on Black Friday. I purchased every TV I own on Black Friday. Once I bought my house, I waited for Black Friday specials to replace my kitchen appliances.
Of course, I’ve also gotten caught up in the moment and made unwise decisions: the Target card I applied for while waiting in line, items I’ve never used, etc. One year, we went on a cruise, and my ex-husband joked that though it was an expensive trip, we saved money by not having me in the stores on Black Friday. Oopsie!
Make a Plan
I maintain a shopping and gift list year-round. As Black Friday ads start leaking, I add to and modify my list. Based on my prior shopping experiences, I prefer some stores over others. For example, at Best Buy and Target, employees pass out tickets for some of the hottest items about two hours before opening. The ticket guarantees that you will be rewarded for your patience in line by having the item even as the day progresses. If I’m buying something at Walmart, I visit the 24-hour locations that allow you to wait inside the store. And, while there is some rush to get in, most of the stores have come up with strategies to avoid the crazy scenes you see on TV. Lines are generally well-behaved, and law enforcement presence dissuades the inevitable line-skippers.
Black Friday shopping is hardcore. It involves several hours of waiting in line, often in the cold and sometimes in the dark (although that has diminished with doors opening at 5 p.m.). But you can enjoy Black Friday with family and friends. As my children became teenagers, they would join me in line so we could split up the store. Each person was responsible for getting an item and meeting at a designated spot.
If you’re going as a group, make sure you have considered whether you have room in the car for your purchases. One year, a friend and I went to buy a big TV and mistakenly drove up in a Miata. I had to wait for her to come back to pick me up.
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Also, visit the stores the last evening that they’re open before the holiday to learn where to find the item(s) you want. Employees will have started putting out signs or wrapped pallets in preparation for Black Friday. Some stores offer store maps online or via an app like the Target app. Ask store employees the location of an item to save yourself some frustration during the shopping.
Shopping for appliances? The good news is that you can skip all the craziness of the lines. Big-box stores do not limit the number of appliances available at a specific price, so shop at your leisure.
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A lot of the stores begin their online sales early Thursday. Make a list of the times that online specials begin and plan your night accordingly. Remember though that doorbusters meant to attract customers to the store will not be available online. Check the ads to see whether the item you want is a doorbuster or not. Some stores, like Target, allow you to buy an item online then pick it up later that day. This has become my new favorite way to shop the Black Friday sales.
With openings starting Thursdays at 5 p.m., you can plan your family time to also incorporate some fun shopping time, whether online or in person. Start a new family tradition and enjoy the savings. And, with all the savings, you can do like I do and plan a wonderful trip to a place like Belize.
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