Sounds like fun, right?
In all of my 28 years of life, the idea of Black Friday never really appealed to me. My sister, Angie, was in town and mentioned that she had gone last year and found some really great deals and so this year I thought "why not?" and went with her. Then, for some unexplained reason, I got really excited about the idea of shopping the day after Thanksgiving. I wasn't after anything in particular, nor did I really have any specific ideas in mind for anyone in my family, but yet I couldn't help to look forward to the mayhem.
Seeing that we live in Small Town, USA, our pickings for retail stores are few and far between, which made mapping out a plan easy. My alarm went off at 4:38 am, but I had been awake for hours before that. I sprang out of bed (which is usually pretty difficult for a woman who is 5-months pregnant) and was dressed in no time. I bounded into the room where my sister and mom were staying and they both wondered why in the world I was so chipper. Folks, I am not a morning person, nor will I ever be. The only time I ever happily get up early are race days... marathons, half marathons, heck- even a 5K will do, but rarely is there another morning that ever sees this much energy from me. Perhaps it is because I am on a race-hiatus due to pregnancy that Black Friday excited me so much... in some weird way it may have filled a void.
We were in the car on the way to Wal-Mart before 6 o'clock. When I pulled into the parking lot, never in my life have I seen it so full. I dropped Angie off, who was after something specific, and Mom and I circled around looking for a few minutes. EVERY spot was full. I don't think I even knew that there were this many cars in this town! We finally stalked a shopper and pulled into their spot, which was possibly the farthest I have ever parked from a store.... which makes me wonder, what ever happened to the Expectant Mother parking? Granted, I think it was probably abused and those spots would have been full, too, but that was short-lived parking method that I never got to take advantage of. *Sigh*
Once inside, it was absolute MADNESS! People were everywhere, aisles were jammed with traffic, and the "hot" items were flying off of the shelves. Being new to town, we apparently missed the memo on how our local Wal-Mart does it because certain sale items were being distributed in certain areas of the store. They had Rock Band for $50 in the frozen food section and flat screen TV's in the shoe aisle... clearly these people had some sort of inside information because we constantly had to ask around for what we were looking for! In the end though, Angie found her hot deal and we all walked away with something or another, whether we had intended to buy it or not. The only downside was the check-out lines which took about 30 minutes of our valuable shopping time.
After Wal-Mart we hit up a few other stores including KMart, JC Penny's, and Bergner's. None were as crazy as the first though and I am not sure if that's due to the fact that we were there when the sales started or if that's just the best place to go in town. Regardless, the three of us racked up quite a bill at the other stores as well and I found my Christmas gift for Josh, which I cannot wait to give him! All in all it was successful, and strangely a lot of fun, but I think I'd do a few things differently next year. Here's my advice to those of you who are new to Black Friday Shopping and would like to check it out in the future:
- NEVER go alone. If you do go alone, do not get a cart. Carts are next to impossible to maneuver through the throngs of people. If you travel in 2's or 3's, however, one person can man the cart and the others can be "runners". This is what ended up working best for us. Besides, the chaos is way more fun to enjoy with others.
- Drop off everyone at the door and only take one person to park. Some of the "hot" items are one per person so if you need more than one of something, it's best to have multiple people with you. Otherwise you may have to wait in a line twice.
- Check the local ads before you go if you want something specific. As I mentioned, Wal-Mart had set up specific locations for some items and it would have saved us some time if we had known right away where these locations were.
- When checking-out, utilize the check-out lanes in other departments. We found one in the sporting goods section that many people hadn't yet discovered. This could save you a lot of time and keep you out of the impatient crowds.
- Drink coffee before you go. We just jetted out the door, but it was hours before we were home. Lucky for me, I now function without caffeine, but my sister was hurting a little!
- Wear comfy shoes.
- A cell phone is a MUST if you are shopping with friends. We got separated for quite awhile in KMart (due to no cell service, not due to forgetting our phones) and looking for each other ate up a lot of good sales time.
- Seriously consider going next year.... some of the deals were OUTRAGEOUS! We saw down comforters (any size) for $20.00, digital camera binoculars for $29.00, all kinds of kitchen appliances for way below market value, and so much more! In this economy, a little sale never hurt anyone.
- Make it fun... plan to go to breakfast afterwards or start a new annual tradition. A lady at church was telling me that she meets up with her sisters every year and they really go shop just to go out to breakfast without their kids every year.
- Keep your eyes peeled... you may get a glimpse of Santa! I guess he needs to Christmas shop, too!
- Feel free to comment with any tip you may have... I'm just a rookie so I'm sure my list will be tweaked year after year.
It's a good thing that this day comes around once a year... it was fun, but I think that's about all I could stand until 2010! Happy Christmas shopping everyone!
And just for good humor... I'm guessing that Santa was shopping for Mrs. Claus's present???