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Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Friday Shopping Tips

I spent the last three holiday seasons as the local Toys for Tots Coordinator and I learned a lot about being a savvy Black Friday Shopper. I recently turned over the local campaign to another lady who I know will do a fabulous job with it.

My husband and I have also assisted another local toy giveaway program with their Black Friday shopping for 8 years! Yep, we have learned a lot about how to make it as simple as possible.

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I figured it might be of help to someone else out there who braves the mobs on the day after Thanksgiving. So here it goes my friends...

Double check with your bank to be sure you don't have a shopping limit for one purchase. Some banks block large purchases. Some require that you call from a cell phone at the register to get a clearance on your account. If you have a bank that has this set up, you might want to consider buying a prepaid Visa card. Or you can go to the store a few days before and get gift cards to use for your purchases. If you take cash, be very careful, because pick-pocketers still do their 'work'.

Keep an eye on the Black Friday Ads website. You'll find just about every major store's Black Friday Ads listed there. This gives you a headstart on your shopping plan since the printed ads don't come out until Wednesday. You can now subscribe via email and get minute to minute updates. Some stores offer the same BF deals when you shop online. So you might be able to get some of your purchases out of the way from the safety of your own home.

Speaking of the printed ads, be sure to get them early. Those newspapers practically fly out of the newspaper bins. You'll want these to refer to while you're shopping. If you plan to shop as a group, which I HIGHLY recommend, then be sure to buy extra copies of the paper. You'll want each member of your shopping team to have their own copy.

Build a shopping team of family and friends. Just as I previously stated, be sure each member has a copy of the ads. Each mom may want to have a teen assistant with you.

Plan your shopping trip on another night before Thanksgiving where you all meet together to plan out your shopping strategy. This involves making your own family's shopping list, then carefully comparing each team member's lists to see which item you all want. For example: If all the women want the same toy for their child, mark that down as a multiple.

Each team member should have a list of the items with the page number that the item appears on in the ad.  Allowing one team member have multiple items will assist the other moms. No need for all the moms to rush to one shelf in the store. ONE mom can pick up the multiple items while another mom gets the multiple items on her list on the other side of the store.

Every team member must have a cell phone, FULLY charged, for communication. This includes teen team members. You'll carry the phone in your POCKET, not your purse. You may never hear it ring otherwise. Set your phone to the loudest ring and vibrate.

Create a schedule of store hours so you can plan which stores your team will be going to first.

Some stores have freebie deals for early bird shoppers, but you'll want to carefully consider which one is worth going for. If one store is offering a snow globe, but there isn't anything you want in their store, you may not find it worth your time if you miss out on a limited sale item at another store during the same opening hours. OR if the stores are close enough together, send your teenagers to get the free gift.

Avoid taking small children with you. Find a babysitter who can spend the night so you can leave early. We have a rule at our house that NO ONE watches Christmas movies UNTIL Black Friday. This will keep your kiddos entertained while you're shopping. Have some pre-made cookie dough there for the babysitter. Let her make cookies and cocoa.

Take some snack bags with you so your blood sugar level doesn't drop. Moodiness bursts out when you're hungry and in a crowded store. Perhaps pack some snack bags with almonds, raisins and chocolate chips. Take Tylenol capsules, you may end up getting a headache. ;O) Also pack a small bottle of water in your purse.

If you think you'll need additional energy, many Starbucks stores DO open before the stores do. BUT they WILL be just as crowded as the stores are. Consider packing a thermos of hot coffee for the car.

Dress warm and in layers. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Get to the first store on your list at LEAST an hour early. (This is why you need to dress warm)

The stores get very warm rather quickly, this is why you should dress in layers.

If you live in a snowy or chilly neighborhood get the glove warmers that stores like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart has. Simply slip them into your gloves to keep your hands warm while waiting for the store to open.

When you get to the store EARLY make sure every mom gets a cart. You each need your own and if your list for that store is long you may want 2 carts per team member (If the store allows). You don't want to neglect getting the carts and end up with NOTHING to hold your items when you get in.

BUCKLE your ZIPPED purse into the cart. Make sure your wallet is DEEP in your purse.

Be courteous to other shoppers. There WILL be mad and crazy shoppers. Just get out of their way. No need to get a black eye over a Tickle Me Elmo doll.

When all the team members are done filling their carts, get in line together. The lines will be long enough to give you time to now separate the multiple items for each mom to purchase out of her own cart.

If you find yourself having an anxiety attack, step back out of the walkway, have your assisting team member watch the cart, close your eyes and breathe.

Some stores are opening at midnight on Thanksgiving. You might want to take a nap after the kitchen is cleaned up after your feast.

Be kind and complimentary to the checker and other store employees. If you only knew what they put up with on Black Friday (eye roll). Thank them for working on Black Friday. Let them know they're appreciated. If it wasn't for them you wouldn't be getting these deals.

When it's all over, go out for breakfast and drink plenty of water. When you get home you'll probably want another nap and you don't want to wake up starving and dehydrated.

Do you have any Black Friday Shopping tips that I didn't mention? Comment below.

And if anything wacky happens, I hope you'll blog about it and let me know of your experiences.

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7 kind words:

Malia,  November 22, 2010 at 1:52 PM  

Haha, nice! Comfy shoes is a must! If I missed this, I would also carry hand sanitizer and/or handy wipes. :o)

Anonymous,  November 23, 2010 at 6:51 PM  

Don't forget sites like etsy and your local merchants as a good alternative to big box stores.

Sisterlisa November 23, 2010 at 9:11 PM  

oh yes!! I have a list of online mommy shops that I'll be doing the MOST of my shopping with. hmmm and you've given me an idea. Thanks ;)

Susan Evans November 25, 2010 at 8:47 AM  

What a fabulous list! This reminds me of why I DON'T go out on Black Friday. LOL

Lynn November 25, 2010 at 8:54 PM  

To make my shoppping experience easier and less stressful, the day before the sale after I pick up the ads, I go through them. Then I get a piece of paper, tape, pen and scissors. I cut out the actual picture and information from the ad of the item I want to buy and tape it to the blank white page. On the top of the page I write the store name and the times of the sale. I do a page for each store. After I find the item I take the picture off the paper & put it in my pocket to throw out on the way out of the store, which keeps me focused. Doing this system helps me to stay on budget and not get overwhelmed with the 20-30 page ad in each store. Also cutting out the pictures instead of writing the item name and price helps me if I can't find an item. I just point to the item on my page to the nearest store worker without having to give descriptions. I hope this helps :)

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