Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Black Friday Survival Guide

Black Friday is a long standing tradition for the women of my family on my Mom's side. For as long as we have had our local mall, my Mom, my grandma, aunts and female cousins have been die hard Black Friday shoppers. I thought they were crazy....for years. There was no way you were going to get me out of bed at dark o thirty and stand outside in the cold, just to get some deals. Nope, not worth it. Well.....then I became a Mom and Christmas got expensive. I was willing to do what was needed to help make Christmas money go the farthest. So I joined the insanity and since then have learned from the pros how to make Black Friday fun, worthwhile, memorable and most important, enjoyable. Here's some of what we have learned. Granted, things have changed in the last few years with Cyber Monday and Black Friday actually starting on Thanksgiving, but no matter how you shop, hopefully these tips will help.

ATTITUDE!! Seriously people, you just got done eating turkey and counting your blessings, now is not the time to be grumpy and mean to everyone around you on Black Friday. Trampling people, shoving, cutting in line, stealing carts.....no deal is worth this!  Go in with a good attitude, be nice to people around you, and you will enjoy the day more.

COFFEE! This is a non negotiable. Back in the day when we waited outside at 4 am, my Aunt Ruthi would be in charge of getting the coffee and hot chocolate for everyone. She would pull up to the curb and hand us our nectar of the gods and it would help keep us warm. She always bought a couple extra to share with people in line with us. One time, as she was curb side, handing out coffee from her car window, a stranger jokingly walked up to place his coffee order. He was dumbfounded when she handed him the extra mocha she had and told him Merry Christmas.

BUDDY!! When you are Black Friday shopping, a buddy is a requirement. Don't go at it alone, it's frustrating and really boring in line! Go with a friend or two and shop together. You can take turns standing in line if it's extra long, or just keep each other entertained! Buddy's can help you find products you can't find. Another great thing about a shopping buddy is that you can combine purchased to maximize coupons and cash back rewards! As a family we meet up, then divide and conquer in small groups. We meet up again at 9 am in the food court and have cinnamon rolls and share all our good deals....and any extra coupons we aren't using!

LIST!! Have a list of products that you are looking for, and a list of people you need to shop for. My sister in law, Tiffani cuts out the adds and puts them in a notebook that also has the gift list. When she can't find a certain item, she has a picture to show the store employee and it's easier for them to help her find it.

CRAP! Yep, some things that look like an amazing deal are just crap. Stores sell these items cheap because they are cheap! One year I bought a set of luggage that was a door buster deal. I was so excited. The wheels fell off the first time I used it and it was junk. Last year I bought a pair of boots for $16, super cute, great deal!! I wore them for two weeks before I realized they were making my knee hurt, which turned into months of rehab with my chiropractor to get my knee back in alignment. No fun, not worth cheap cute boots!! Watch what you are buying and make sure it's a quality product.

COMPASSION! Be nice to the people who are actually working on Black Friday. Smile, be kind and know they are probably tired and stressed. Last year I talked with a nice young lady who was almost done with her shift, but then was going to her other job to work all day. If you have never worked retail, you have no idea how hard their job is. (I think it should be a graduation requirement for all kids to work retail during a holiday season! We would have far less rude shoppers!).

TIMING! I hate to even mention this, because it's my little secret. Because most businesses open on Thanksgiving (I personally disagree so I don't shop on Thanksgiving), we have maintained our early shopping tradition of 3-4 am and it's actually pretty quiet! The people who did the door busters are long gone, and everyone else is still sleeping. The last two years we have had no lines at that time and it's made shopping way more enjoyable. Granted, some products are long gone, and you might struggle to find what you are looking for, but to me it's worth it.

SMALL! Lastly I have to put in a plug for small businesses. They may not have the big sales, but shopping local will keep your money local and help families in your community. The personal service is totally worth a few more dollars, and returns are way easier if needed.

Good luck, hope to see some of you out there on Black Friday. Wave, smile and say hi. This is the first year my  12 year old daughter is tagging along, please pray for me!