The Halloween decorations are coming down and the Christmas music has started playing, which means it’s almost time for Thanksgiving, a holiday a friend called “the middle child of holidays.” Sure, it’s fun to eat a big dinner with family, but Thanksgiving provides limited décor options. (Unless you’re my mother and still put up the turkey drawings your kids made over ten years ago.) Really, the more important holiday for many Americans is Black Friday.
I used to work at a large retail chain that shall remain nameless (let’s just say I had to wear a lot of red). My third day at work was a Black Friday. That Friday, I was a scared 17-year-old hoping the crazies would clear out by the time I got to work at 8 am. They had, leaving destruction in their wake. I’ve grown a lot since then, and been on both sides of Black Friday madness. And now I’m here to share my wisdom with you, to make sure you have the best possible Black Friday shopping experience.
Have a plan
Are you looking for Christmas gifts, a new cell phone, or just a really cute holiday dress? These are the kind of questions you need to ask yourself before you head out the door Thursday night. Black Friday is no time for casual shopping. Look up what kind of sales each store is having on websites like this one, and know what you’re looking for. Know when stores open, because they’re opening earlier and earlier these days and you don’t want to miss the best deals. Don’t meander up to a store people have been camping out in front of an expect to get all your holiday shopping done, because chances are the store will run out of inventory on the best sales early. So do your research and have a plan; this is not a night for the unprepared.
Hit the electronics early
Electronics are generally where you can find the biggest savings on Black Friday. If that’s what you’re looking for, you better be there when stores open. When I got into work at 8 am, the giant pile of TVs we had placed on sale were already completely gone. The bigger the deal, the faster it’s going to fly off the shelves, so don’t come into a store hours after opening if you’re looking for a new half-priced camera or you’ll be disappointed.
If you’re just looking for clothes, don’t go out early
The thing about getting to a store right when it opens is that the crowds are crazy. Every year we see news about people getting into fights over the best deals. And if you’re just looking for new clothes, this kind of insanity is not worth it. Clothes, while discounted on Black Friday, are not the biggest sellers, so chances are even if you go out later you’ll find something to buy. And the clothing sales usually last all day instead of a few hours like some electronics sales. Trust me, if you’re only looking for a new pair of boots, go ahead and get a little sleep before heading out. You can avoid the people willing to fight over their spot in line.
If you’re going out on Black Friday, you’re going to spend plenty of time waiting in lines. So it’s bring friends or a book, and friends are much better for helping you pick out the best items. They will boost your energy when it starts to fade in the third store, and they’re even sometimes willing to form a human barricade when you don’t want to wait in line for the fitting room. (The retail employee in me says this is fine as long as you put the shirt back if you don’t like it, but for the love of God don’t leave it crumpled in a ball on the floor.) Friends will make the evening (or morning or day) into a fun event instead of just a crazy shopping trip. If you’re better as a solo shopper, make sure your phone is fully charged so you can play games while you wait, or bring that book.
Okay, say I’m working and I know there may be one pair of half-off jeans in the backroom even if it doesn’t show up on my scanner. Who do you think I’ll be willing to go back there and check for, the lady who yelled at me about how they were on sale but already out of stock, or the lady who calmly and sweetly asked if I was sure there weren’t any left? If you guessed the latter, you’re already one step ahead of probably half the customers the average retail employee has to deal with on Black Friday. While being polite is good advice every day, it’s especially important on a day like Black Friday when common courtesy seems to disappear. If you’re nice to a salesperson, chances are they’ll be willing to go far out of their way to help you out. And, you’ll know you didn’t contribute to their eventual holiday-shopping-induced mental breakdown.
It’s time to start thinking about Christmas presents and the best deals of the season are often to be found on Black Friday. If you wear some comfortable shoes and follow these Black Friday tips, your day of shopping madness is sure to be a success. Good luck out there!