Q: Why do they call it Black Friday?
A: Because you’re lucky if you get out with just a black eye.
There are a lot of things to process while in a store on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Questions such as, “Do I need a third copy of the first season of ‘Modern Family’? It’s only $10!” Or, “Would this be less expensive at Target?” Or, “Will I make it out of here alive?” It’s a lot to ponder. Unfortunately, when you’ve got to fight the masses for the lowest prices on the best stuff, there’s no time to ponder. There’s hardly time to breathe. There is only time to shop until you drop. That, and to survive.
Make no mistake: Black Friday shopping is not for the meek or faint of heart. It is a brutal, unforgiving process filled with crazed beasts you used to call your fellow shoppers. Is that Dr. Martin, your family optometrist? Not tonight, it isn’t. That is She-Ra, the warrior woman of bargain hunting. Oh, look, it’s Mitchell from your spin class! Except the only thing that will spin is your head as he blows right past you to get that My Little Pony toy for his daughter. They are not your friends; they are your competitors.
Some of you are probably already out at a store or preparing to go in the wee hours to attempt to find the best deals. For those of you reading this in a store, put this down and focus! You’ve already lost out on $150 worth of discounts in the time it took you to read these first 200 words.
However, if you haven’t left yet, here are my Five Rules of Successful Black Friday Shopping, guaranteed*.
1) Be prepared to stand your ground. You likely aren’t going to make it out of serious Black Friday shopping without at least one standoff, particularly if you’re going for the pricey items. You can’t be weak when it comes to defending your deal – be strong, be informed, be ready. However:
2) Know when to cut your losses. You aren’t going to get everything you want. Plain and simple. Know which items you’re going for that you think are the most valuable. That iPad mini? Totally worth fighting for! “The Hunger Games” on DVD? Girl, the odds are definitely not in your favor. Generally, anything with a sizable discount is a high priority; if you could get it for about the same price elsewhere, don’t bother. Speaking of:
3) Be smart about your locations, both pricing-wise and availability-wise. Is Barnes & Noble really going to have “Homeland” season one on DVD for less than Target or Walmart? Absolutely not. However, they’ll probably have a better selection of books than either of the other locations. You aren’t going to get everything you want at one store, so know which ones will have what, and what order you should hit them in. Which brings us to:
4) Plan every step of your venture. Are you at Target right now? No? Well, you’ve lost that battle already. They opened at 9 p.m. Walmart opened even earlier. By sitting around enjoying pumpkin pie and family time, you’ve already ceded crucial ground. Think about that Aunt Margaret brags about her iPhone 5 at Christmas, while you missed out because you were at her Thanksgiving dinner. However, plenty of stores haven’t opened yet. Think about what smaller stores probably aren’t hit up as much, and hit those first. Then, go back to places like Target and Walmart to clean their shelves and get the bargains that haven’t already been picked through. Finally:
5) When all else fails, go online. Scared of venturing into the wild masses? Missed something on your way that isn’t available anymore? Take to the web! Most stores have their discounts available online as well, as well as exclusive digital-only deals. While online shopping can often lead to identity theft and credit card fraud much more than in-store shopping, for this one day a year, it is truly the safer option, if one that usually leads to smaller rewards.
With these tips, you should be well-equipped to survive Black Friday. Good luck to all of you, and remember, you’re not here to make friends. You’re here to be number one.