Black Friday, Part I: Shopping Tips

While Black Friday isn’t for everyone, I thrive on the crowds, the coffee and the competition. For the past three years, I have done Black Friday in Minneapolis and yes, I went to the Mall of America, and yes, I lived to tell the tale and I actually had a good time. Here are some tips for survival, I learned while being punched by a grandma in line at Best Buy:

1. Scan the ads. Get the Sunday paper and scan the After-Thanksgiving Day sale ads and make a list of the items you want.

2. Don’t discriminate. Last year, Lowe’s had lovely area rugs for $19.99 so look at all your ads. Also, keep in mind that stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot have fewer crowds. So if you see a must-have and it is on sale at several places, get it from the place most likely not to have a big crowd.

3. Make a list. Make a lot of lists. The key to Black Friday success is making a list of the must-have deals and ranking them in order of importance. Also, rank them in order of most-likely-to-get, because let’s be honest, you have more chance of getting the coffee maker than a Wii.

4. Be realistic. Have one or two goals and go for them, but remember. The world does not hinge on getting that Wii.

5. Map your route. Put the stores with hot items at the beginning of your route and the not-so-hot items at the end.  Also, make sure you are shopping in a place where all of your must-shop stores are close together. Last year, I drove half an hour out of my way to get to a shopping center with a Target, Kohl’s and Best Buy all within a mile radius of each other. It was well worth it. Tip: If you live in a big urban area and have a choice, go to the shopping centers in the developing suburbs, as opposed to the well-established suburbs. Same deals, less people.

6. Have fun. If you have a hyper-competitive friend, decline her shopping invite. Instead, go with someone fun, who shares your passion for all things paisley and who isn’t willing to resort to violence. Also, dress comfortably,  laugh at the women in Crocs throwing down over Bratz dolls, and realize you have some delicious leftovers and a nap waiting for you at home.