Do you take part in Black Friday? When I was young, my mom always jump-started her Christmas shopping with an early morning trip to the mall the day after Thanksgiving. Sometimes, she stood out in the cold for hours, waiting in line for the stores to open. When my brother and I were older, we started going with her. Some years we had a plan, other years we just browsed the aisles to see what cheap goodies we could find.
Years later, when I started a relationship with Mr. Handsome, I discovered that his mother and sisters were dedicated Black Friday shoppers, and I began taking part in what has become a tradition. I can’t say I enjoy venturing out into the dark and [usually very] cold at 4am, but it’s definitely an adventure and a chance to make memories.
As you prepare for Black Friday, I have a few shopping tips to share. Feel free to add your own.
1. Make a Game Plan
After the food coma has subsided and your Thanksgiving dinner guests have headed home, start looking through the store catalogs and planning your shopping excursion. Decide what stores you want to visit and in what order (based on what time they open and where they are located), and make a list of the items you are interested in. If you are hoping to pick up Christmas gifts, you’ll want to make a list of all the people you need to buy for.
2. Beware of Electronics
When it comes to electronics, especially TVs, you’ll want to remember the “buyer beware” mantra. Do the prices seem too good to be true? They might just be. Electronic stores are known for selling cheaper, lower quality brands and making you think you’re getting something that’s top of the line. They will also manufacture derivative models of more well-known brands. A derivative model is a stripped down, junkier version of a product that is usually only sold for a few days around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Be sure to check model numbers, specs, and consumer reviews before buying an electronic item. If you look up a model number and don’t find information online, there’s a good chance it’s a derivative model.
When it comes to department/clothing stores, you’ll often score additional savings if you combine coupons (found in catalogs or online) with store sales. Make sure to read the fine print, as some coupons are only valid on certain items.
4. Go With a Group
If you have a large list and are planning to hit up several stores, shopping with a few other people can be helpful. If you enter a store with a long checkout line, station someone in the line (perhaps someone who doesn’t need anything from that particular store) while the rest of you shop.
5. Check Return Policies
On Cyber Monday, I’ll often order a bunch of clothing items with plans to return the ones that don’t work. (This tactic is especially easy if you can return online items to the store.) Last year, I ordered about eight pairs of jeans for Mr. Handsome, all at fabulous sale prices, and then returned the ones that didn’t fit. Two years ago, I ordered several dresses and returned all but two. (If you’re like Mr. Handsome and me, finding tasteful clothing that fits–especially jeans and dresses–is almost impossible, so we welcome online shopping.)
6. Exercise Caution
Over the years, I have made a few Black Friday clothing purchases that I later regretted. Let’s be honest, trying on a bunch of clothes when you’re tired, cold, and hungry isn’t too appealing. Something that looks good at 5am might not have the same appeal when you’re well rested. Just something to keep in mind while you shop, especially if it’s an item you can’t return.
7. Bring Snacks and Water
No explanation needed. A hungry shopper is a grumpy shopper.