7 Black Friday Tips to Know Before You Go

Always wanted to try shopping on Black Friday for those screaming deals? Guest poster Jenny has the Black Friday tips to make the day a success!
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Editor's Note: We asked Jenny from Formerly Phread to share with us her best Black Friday shopping tips because she goes every year. Yes, really. Originally from Western New York, Jenny's famous for schooling BlogHer conference attendees in the Single Ladies dance, completing triathlons, and for making humans. Jenny leaves 5 kids snug as bugs in their beds in the wee post-Thanksgiving hours to hit the gladitorial shopping arenas in her rocky mountain home. 

jenny by Justin

In all the planning you’re already doing for this week, don’t forget to prepare for Black Friday.

You have to prepare?

YES. (Seriously, you guys. People die from Black Friday.)

I’ve experienced Black Friday shopping for many years and I have to say, there are certainly some things one should know about this adventure, whether it’s your first time, or an annual tradition.

One of our favorite comedians, Maria Bamford for Target's Black Friday

One of our favorite comedians, Maria Bamford for Target's Black Friday

SIGN UP FOR EMAIL AND/OR TEXT UPDATES

Many of your favorite stores will let you know extra early what the deals will be on Black Friday. Simply check out their websites to see if you can sign up to get the fliers via email, or if you can get the inside scoop via text.

PLAN YOUR ROUTE

Send someone out on Thanksgiving morning to pick up one copy each of any newspaper (yes, they still exist) you can get, both local and national. These will have several store ads with Black Friday deals, many of which will not be announced any earlier than Thanksgiving Day. Take the time to thoroughly sort the ads and set aside what you want, placing the duplicate ads and the newspapers directly into your recycling bin (you do NOT want the mess of strewn newspapers to distract you from your very serious studying and planning). Clearly mark the items you intend to buy from each of your saved ads, and prioritize them.

Make your plan: will you stand in line at the store which opens at 6:00 am to get that one thing you really want? Or will you first go to the store which opens at 4:30, get some great deals there and then have to take your chances on not getting into the 6:00 am store as soon? Know that people line up hours before the doors open, and you’ll have to decide if standing in the cold to secure your place in line is worth it.

If you do decide to wait in the cold, remember: it’s COLD. Bring blankets, hand warmers, cocoa, a book . . . standing outside of a store is exactly as exciting as it sounds.

**New this year: some stores are opening at midnight. This is a game-changer, and I’m eager to see how it plays out.

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR AT THE STORE

Especially if you’re going to multiple stores, make a list. You’re buying the television at Target and the luggage at Kohl’s, not the other way around, and if you forget these details you’ll waste time. Make your shopping list a combination of product priority and efficiency with how you’ll move through the store; if you’re not familiar with the layout of the store you’ll be attending, go a few days earlier so you don’t waste time trying to maneuver through aisles you should avoid.

Be familiar with what deals are available at which stores, even if you might not be purchasing the items yourself (see below, ‘Be Kind And Alert’). Doorbusters are deals offered to get people to enter the store early, but be aware: quantities are limited. Sometimes rainchecks are available on certain items. Read the fine print on any ads.

GET IN AND GET OUT

This might seem obvious, but it might be the most important part of your shopping experience. If you take your time you could find yourself, as I did one year, waiting two hours to reach a cashier. Obviously, the sooner you’re into the store, the sooner you could be out of the store, but hurry before the lines start forming and reach the back of the building (and beyond). This is why it’s so important to plan ahead and know what you’ll be looking for at each store you enter. In your hustle, however, don’t lose your head: a few years ago, I was the third person to be checked out at a register at Target and found that the woman in front of me, in a hurry to get to her next store, accidentally left her debit card behind. Don’t do that.

TEAM UP IF YOU NEED TO

Can’t figure out the logistics of being at two or three different stores at once? Team up with some friends. You can each go to a store with each others’ lists (give your friends a break, though, if they couldn’t get every single thing on your portion of the list), and then arrange to meet at your favorite breakfast place at the designated time to share stories and divide up the merchandise.

BE KIND AND ALERT

In my history of Black Friday shopping, I’ve been shoved, pushed, had things pulled out of my hands and out of my shopping cart, had grown women climb over my shopping cart, and had some pretty fierce swear words thrown my way. I find that the best way to respond to any of these behaviors, perhaps especially the swearing, is to look the offender directly in the eye, and offer a cheery and bold, “Merry Christmas!” in their face.

If you overhear someone lament that they just can’t find the Connect Four they saw in the flier, and you passed it on your way in, let them know, and point them in the right direction. Store employees will (hopefully) be readily available to direct you to the item you’re looking for; be certain to thank them for their help. Thank the cashiers, too.

And speaking of the cashiers, be efficient in the check-out line: don’t talk on your phone when your order is being scanned.

TREAT YO SELF

To some cocoa and a nap.

What are your Black Friday tips?

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