It’s five in the morning on November 25th. Just a few hours ago, you were laughing with your family and eating pumpkin pie. It was a warm, delicious, fun time – not like now, when you’re currently standing on a sidewalk outside of a Best Buy in sub-freezing temperatures, with an unquenchable thirst in your mouth and your credit card in hand. Yet somehow, when you rush past the crazy moms and screaming dads into the store at exactly six in the morning, the amazing speaker set you were hoping to buy your husband for Christmas is already sold out.
Welcome to Black Friday.
While it may seem like a simple trip to the mall, Black Friday shopping is an epic (and at times horrifying) adventure. You need to be prepared, organized, and smart to get what you’d like and to make it through without reaching a whole new level of frustration. Here are our tips for a successful Black Friday that you’ll live to tell the tale of:
Stay Hydrated & Bring a Snack
While this may seem a little over-the-top for a shopping day, trust us, you’ll be glad you kept granola bars and water bottles in your backpack when you’re in your third hour of shopping. Keeping hydrated and well-fed will also keep you from getting annoyed and snappy, so even when the other shoppers are being a pain, you’ll at least be able to try and ignore them.
Dress (Comfortably) in Layers
Even if you’re not waiting in a line outside of a Wal-Mart, dressing in layers is a good idea. The more people in a store, the hotter it will be – but the second you step out of it, you’re going to freeze in the fall air. Make sure all your layers are comfy, too, because that itchy tag on the back of your neck is going to feel a lot worse when you’re juggling a flatscreen TV.
Bring a Big Bag, Too
The problem with wearing lots of layers is that when you take them off, you’ll need a roomy place to put them. Swap your wristlet or wallet for a tote bag (even just a canvas one will work) for the day. Throw your extra snacks, water, and layers in here in addition to your cash.
Some Reusable Shopping Bags Won’t Hurt, Either
Tight rope handles will hurt your hands, and flimsy plastic bags are going to rip the second they catch. Save yourself that hassle by bringing your own, plus help the environment. Christmas as a holiday produces over 8,000 tons of wrapping paper and 1b Christmas cards thrown away – do your part to make the holiday season more green by reducing your paper and plastic usage on Black Friday.
Know What You Want Before You Go
If you walk into Target on Black Friday with no direction or budget, you will buy everything you see, we promise. Instead of going “gift shopping” with no ideas, review the store’s deal guides before you go, and figure out what big tickets items you’ll be purchasing, as well as any other ones you think you’d like. If you really don’t know the exact models, at least bring a list of what items you’d like to consider buying.
And Don’t Forget to Read the Fine Print
Retailers get tricky on Black Friday. You may arrive at your local Best Buy only to find they’re one of the few locations not honoring the 20% off total purchase coupon you got in the mail, or they’re not stocking the PS4 you had your eye on. Before you go, do your research: read up about Black Friday experiences at the store you’re going to online and read the fine print in their ads so you don’t show up just to be disappointed.
Read Consumer Reviews
Another way retailers get tricky on Black Friday is by switching out their inventory for cheaper-quality (and less expensive) products. While the name and model information may look the same as the normal item, double-check the features of each product to make sure they’re exactly the same. If not, read some customer reviews of the discounted item first to ensure it’s really a deal worth getting up at three in the morning for.
Budget for the Little Things
In addition to all the big-ticket electronics and furniture, shops like Target and Wal-Mart are going to offer deep discounts on all the little things: headphones, cosmetics, office supplies, snacks… anything and everything will be on sale, and while you’re waiting in a massive line to get your purchased rung up, you might cave to buying some. Unless you have impeccable self-control, be ready for the impulse buys by adding some wiggle room to your budget.
Divide & Conquer
Going with your family or friends? Make use of the number of people by dividing up into sections or stores. If one person is solely focused on getting the doorbuster couch at Big Lots, another can head next door to Best Buy for the new tablet.
Don’t Engage with the Crazies
As much as South Park and the media jokes about crazy Black Friday shoppers, they are (to a certain extent) real. If you see something that seems to be extreme or that could possibly lead to violence or discomfort, talk to an employee immediately. While they may seem snappy or stressed, they’ll be glad to have taken care of an angry customer before things get too out of hand.
Want a Big-Ticket Item? Come Early.
They’re called “doorbuster” items for a reason. If you want something large that’s heavily discounted and has been prominently featured in the store’s Black Friday marketing, you’ll need to show up early. Keep in mind that some stores are open on Thanksgiving day, too, so know before you go if you’ll be able to get it at all.
Book a Dolly to Bring Your Stuff Home
Part of being prepared is knowing how you’ll get your stuff home – and if you’re buying that 72” flatscreen or that new couch, it’s not going to fit in your sedan. That’s why we’re here to help. Book a Dolly for a truck and some muscle that’ll bring your Black Friday purchases home. Let us take care of the heavy lifting so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy some leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
Miranda is the Marketing Coordinator at Dolly. She’s moved nine times in the past six years, and while she’s grateful for the moving expertise, she’s hoping she doesn’t need to move a tenth time anytime soon.