My friend Cassie is a Black Friday pro. Every year she heads out to the stores in the dead of night and comes back in the morning with approximately $30,000 worth of Christmas presents for, like, 30 bucks. One time I asked her about her strategies and she regaled me with stories that might make a Vietnam veteran blush. But you know what? She gets all of her holiday shopping done in a few hours the day after Thanksgiving, and she comes out of it with a smile on her face, so more power to her. After talking to her and a few other Black Friday devotees, I’ve compiled a list of five indispensable tips for surviving this crazy capitalist holiday.
1. Do your homework. Black Friday is not a day to leave things to chance. Peruse all the ads on Thanksgiving Day. Mark up the ones you’re interested in so you know exactly what you’re going for and, ideally, where it will be located. It’s best to focus on stores that you’re already familiar with so you don’t lose time trying to find certain sections. Scout the stores ahead of time if at all possible (wearing a ninja outfit can make this more fun). Pay attention to timelines, too: some sales last for two hours and some last for two days.
2. Prioritize. What is most important to you? A big screen TV for ? Thirty pairs of athletic socks for the price of one?
- Figure out which purchases are most important to you and which ones can be pushed to the back burner if necessary. It’s important to have clearly defined goals so you don’t get distracted at the shelf of musical Santa figurines at the door and miss out on everything. You also might want to think long and hard about your ethical principles: are you willing to push people out of the way? And how do you feel about psychological warfare?
- Bring backup. Here’s the deal: waiting in line for five hours by yourself is many people’s idea of hell. Waiting in line with your friends for five hours? Still sort of hellish, but at least you’ll have someone to go on latte runs and watch your spot while you pee. On a practical note, once you get inside the store your group can split up and grab multiples of different items.
- Power up. It’s usually best to not sleep at all the night before Black Friday since many sales start at midnight. Pack snacks and fuel up on coffee as often as possible. Adrenaline can only get you so far.
- Check your attitude. As Cassie puts it, “There’s nothing worse than watching some lady get irritated in line and you’re thinking, ‘Really? You didn’t know there would be a line?’” Black Friday is crazy and intense but if you’re not having any fun with it, you might as well not go.
Are you guys planning to hit up the sales the day after Thanksgiving? And do you Black Friday veterans out there have any other important tips for surviving the busiest shopping day of the year?