Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of mine, with my mom’s southwestern style dressing/ stuffing, breezy weather, and Twilight Zone marathons. But once the melatonin-induced coma wears off I turn into a cold-blooded warrior, ready to attack those great holiday savings. After spending a day being thankful for everything I have, I go out and get more! Here is a guide of how I attack the crazed shopping day called Black Friday.
The most important thing to a successful Black Friday campaign is gathering proper intelligence. Thankfully, the internet has made this so much easier to do ahead of time.
Start with visiting websites of the stores you want to conquer. Most stores will publish their sales online a few weeks early. There are also websites that will scour all these ads for you. Some of the best are BFAds.net, FatWallet, Slickdeals, and Dealtaker. All those sites, with the exception of Slickdeals, have mobile phone apps.
Note the store hours, any special Black Friday procedures, and make sure to look at the fine print of each sale for any mail-in rebates, limited quantities, rain check policy, or any special requirements. That $299 TV deal may actually cost you $600 with a $400 mail-in rebate. Another example would be that $199 laptop that requires a 2-year commitment to some internet service. Some of these requirements may be worth it to you, but all I am saying is make sure you know before you waste your time.
Once you have your intel of stores and sales, it’s time to visit the stores and do some route reconnaissance. Talk to employees, especially stockers and managers, about the stores plan for Black Friday. You goal is to gather additional information about the store layout, line management, door busters, and location of special sale items. If you are looking to get a popular item that has limited quantities, find out where they are being distributed from and if they are giving out wristbands or vouchers ahead of time.
There is also an additional benefit to visiting the store a few days before Black Friday, and that is for early deals. Some retailers will have insane deals for larger, high quality items in order to drive business leading up to Friday. Last year, I went to Best Buy prepared to pay $2200 for a Panasonic 3D Plasma TV. I walked out paying $1500 for the TV AND they gave me a free 3D Blu-ray player, 3 pairs of 3D glasses, 3 3D Blu-ray movies, and a $50 gift card. By visiting the store a few days early, you may find a higher quality item at a really good price without having to wait in line. That’s winning!
Don’t dare try to be Rambo and do Black Friday on your own. You need a team of people to go into battle with, each having their own target. At the bare minimum, you need at least one other person to wait in line while you are shopping. Have the line waiter grab an inexpensive item and have them wait in line at a register. If you are not back by the time they are up, they can let people go ahead.
If you only have a few items to get, I would recommend having a 3rd person to manage the cart. This way, one person can maneuver easily among the crowds to grab items, while the cart holder stays back to collect and watch everything.
If you have a lot of items on your list, you should have at least 5 people on your team; 2 shoppers, 2 cart holders, and 1 line waiter. Divide the list of items and assign everyone an area. Everyone having a specific area will keep you from traveling all around the store.
With your plan and team in place, it’s time to execute. Pack any drinks, snacks, and entertainment you think you will need and get to the store as early as possible. Standing in line can be fun if you are surrounded by the right people, so try to make friendly with people around you.
Once the store opens, everyone should disperse to their areas. Make sure to get to the limited quantity items immediately. Be courteous! No need to be rude, it’s just stuff. Get the line waiter in place when you are about half way done with your shopping and your exit out of the store should be a breeze.
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Black Friday can be a lot of fun and save you a lot of money if you have the right plan. Hopefully this guide will give the help you need. Don’t forget those mail-in rebates!
Do you have any Black Friday tips? Sound off in the comments box!