Tag Archive | friday

Black Friday shopping: my story

I’ve talked about my love of Black Friday here. And I was able to share that with the entire Valley this weekend. Here’s my first-person account, with some photos:

It was 10 minutes to 6 Thursday night and I was feeling the adrenaline coursing through my veins as the Walmart associates ripped the cellophane off the cardboard DVD displays. I turned to my 17-year-old sister, Allison, who was about to begin her first Black Friday shopping experience.

“Now, I want you to know: if you fall, I’m not stopping for you,” I said. 20131202-093310.jpg

“What? Ashley, why would you do that?” she said.

“I just want you to know. This is the Hunger Games, and I can’t be held up,” I answered.

“Whatever,” she said.

It may seem dramatic, but in my 13 years of Black Friday shopping, one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t slow down for stragglers. Bargain hunting is a fine skill, one I look forward to honing every year following my Thanksgiving meal.

Back when my mother and I started our yearly Black Friday shopping session, the deals began at 6 a.m. Friday and involved you huddled outside a store in the cold, waiting for someone to unlock the store doors.

The deals were worth the potential hypothermia, especially when considering that it was the only way to afford that new Game Boy Advance that Allison, then 5 or 6, wanted. Plus, my mom and I enjoyed the time together, chatting and enjoying not being at work and school.

This year, the deals started earlier than ever — Walmart’s first “event” was at 6 p.m. Thursday — and mostly you just stand in line in the store, thanks to 24hour retail cycles.

But it’s still exciting.

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Black Friday tips from the pros

There’s been a lot of complaining and judging going on about Black Friday/Thanksgiving shopping, and I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to go shopping tomorrow.

It’s OK. It’s doesn’t make you a bad person.

I’ll be there, and I don’t hate my family and I’m not a demon-possessed maniac. I just like shopping, and it’s something me and MY family do together.

So, here’s some of my tips, mixed in with a good list I found on the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle website – the best I could find – for making your Black Friday trip a success.

I’ll post pics from ours!

  • Shop in waves. Retailers aren’t releasing all their bargains at the opening bell this year. Some, like Wal-Mart, are having some sales at 6 p.m., some at 8 p.m., and so on. The new process is more complicated, but staggering the sales may increase your odds of getting that special deal. Mall stores will also have staggered openings. Decide if you’re a night owl or an early bird and make your game plan.
  • And about that plan … You have to be organized to get the deals. Peruse the circulars Thursday morning and make a list. Decide what you really cannot do without and head first to the store selling it. It could be toys for the kids or a flat-screen TV for your family room. Many stores have online shopping lists that you can fill out and send to your mobile phone to help you stay on track. [We always have a plan together, and we also have a contingency plan if our top priorities don’t work out]
  • Get social. Use social media to find out about deals as well by following stores on Twitter and Facebook. You can receive extra deals from the stores. You can also track on Twitter if deals are worth it or if sale items are sold out throughout Brown Thursday/Black Friday.
  • Divide and conquer. If you’re in line with your friends and relatives, divvy up that list and have each person head to one department for the entire team. Have Mom go to the toy department while you go to electronics and BFF scouts out holiday decor. [YES YES YES]
  • Dress in layers. While it’s freezing cold outside, the stores are toasty warm. I wear my silk long johns to stay warm while waiting outside. They aren’t bulky once I get inside a store.
  • Think outside the box. The stores around the central hubs such as Henrietta and Victor will be crowded. If you have specific items on your list, you might try a standalone store. I was able to get a big TV at the Chili Target a few years back without having to wait in line outside in the cold for too long.
  • Shop during the slow times. Every store has a lull time during Brown Thursday/Black Friday after the initial rush. Once the first wave of bargain hunters check out, the stores are easier to get around in. I was at Eastview Mall at 5 a.m. with my daughter the past two years and noticed that stores began to slow by around 7 a.m. By 8 a.m., we were at a not-too-crowded food court enjoying breakfast.

Black Friday vs. Thanksgiving: When should stores open?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is traditionally followed by my favorite holiday, Black Friday. My mom and I used to get up at 2:30 a.m. and joke that soon we wouldn’t even have to sleep at all, since stores were opening earlier and earlier – first 6 a.m., then 5 and finally 4 (Could you believe it!).

But now, it’s happened. Last year, most stores opened at midnight – and this year, Thanksgiving Thursday is the new Friday – and it has people angry, saying they can’t enjoy the holiday with their families anymore.

So now struggling retailer JCPenney seems to be going with a “we’re the good guys” strategy, saying they won’t open until Black Friday:

— jcpenney (@jcpenney) November 18, 2012

Personally, I’d like to see all stores go back to an actual Black Friday opening. It’s getting to be too much, in my opinion.

But will opening later put stores at a disadvantage? Crowds last year for the midnight openings were the biggest I’ve ever seen them in my Black Friday openings.

What do you think? Should retailers wait until Black Friday morning or continue to push the envelope?

[BTW – I’ll be posting some pics tomorrow of my own early-morning adventures!]