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Guys. Two days ago I had a revelation.
Thanksgiving is next week.
Did someone mess with my calendar? I seriously thought we had two weeks until the annual stay-up-all-night-and-wait-in-line-in-the-cold-so-you-can-(not)-get-the-latest-gadget event.
Otherwise known as Black Friday.
Did you hear about Target opening their doors at 9pm Thanksgiving Day? Wal-Mart is opening at 8pm too.
It’s tempting to eat the turkey for breakfast so the tryptophan can run its course safely. Otherwise you’ll find me passed out in line outside Target with hot chocolate dripping down my chin!
I have a really great way to save this year on Black Friday, but first – a story.
What tip of mine wouldn’t be complete without a story? 😉
In 2008, Mr. Crumbs and I set our alarm for 4am, rolled out of bed and drove 2 miles to Starbucks…
For nothing. They didn’t open until 5am.
So we drove to Kohls (caffeine-free) and waited the remaining 30 minutes until their doors opened. Did Kohls have some super-awesome door buster that we had to have?
No. Our money saving strategy boiled down to the fact that of the six-store shopping center in our beach town, they had the shortest line. They did have a decent deal on the basic, no-frills Kitchen Aid mixer, but we counted it as luck if we were able to snag one.
Sneaky sneaky. 😉
Apparently no one in our town bakes because the mixers were untouched! We grabbed one, paid for it and left. That gift was crossed off our list and although there wasn’t anything else we needed or wanted to buy (we hadn’t given much thought beyond the mixer), we were already up and figured we’d make the most of the day. We swung by Starbucks for coffee (yes!) and entered phase 2. Wal-Mart.
What? Wal-Mart on Black Friday? We were crazy?!
Wal-Mart was MOBBED. The place was PACKED. People were EVERYWHERE. No joke, you could barely move. It seemed ridiculous to even attempt to shop because you were always pinned between people and their carts.
Do I sound like I’m exaggerating? Seriously, I’m not!
Somehow, in the madness, we found our way to the display of Kitchen-Aid mixers. The basic no-frills model was on sale for a screaming hot deal of only $130. We didn’t plan on shopping there in the first place because we figured they’d be gone by the time we got there.
And of course, they were.
The journey of finding the nearest exit began. About 50 feet (and 20 minutes) later, I ran (literally) into a woman who had two in her cart and was apparently in line to check out (although she was in the middle of the store and nowhere near the actual check-out line – that’s how packed the place was).
Hmm… I wondered if she really needed both of those…
Me: Excuse me, ma’am? Good Morning. 🙂 Are you going to buy both of those mixers? My husband and I were hoping to buy one for my step-mom, but they’ve sold out.
Mystery Lady: Hmm… I don’t know. Let me check with my husband. We’re just here visiting the area from Arizona.
Me: Wow, that would be wonderful! How about I give you my phone number? I’d like to check out a couple more things before we leave. Can you just give me a call after you speak with your husband?
(Yes, we’re still inside Wal-mart, but I didn’t want to make her feel awkward with me standing there, staring at her as she talks to her husband.)
Mystery Lady from Arizona: Of course.
(3 minutes later, my phone rings)
Mystery Lady from Arizona: You can have one if you’d like. Can you come and get it?
So at this point we had two Kitchen Aid mixers from two different stores on Black Friday. We scored one of the best deals of Black Friday 2008 – TWICE – and it wasn’t because we camped out all night.
But just wait – the story gets better!
Later that day we picked up my dad and the three of us headed to the mall to see what kind of deals the stores had there. Mervyns was going out of business and we wanted to check out what they had too.
While browsing the shelves, we just so happened to find a Kitchen Aid mixer.
But this was not the basic, no-frills model. This mixer was the Mecca of mixers. It was the color we originally wanted. It was the larger size we had wanted. It had all the bells and whistles and attachments that we wanted. And it was only $20 more than what we paid for the basic model at Wal-Mart.
So what’s the moral of this story?
Just because the retail industry labels the day Black Friday, it doesn’t mean that’s when you’ll find the best deals.
Sure, there are good deals to be had. However, the best deals are found when we put a little elbow grease into finding them remembering three easy steps.
1. Know who we’re buying for. Before we buy anything, we need to know who we want to give to this season. Is everyone giving everyone a gift? Are families drawing names? Are you buying individual gifts for immediate family, but family gifts for the extended members? Whatever the plan is, make sure you have one first.
2. Know what you’re looking for. Again, before buying anything, we should know what it is we are wanting to buy. Along with your list of gift recipients, have a couple ideas written down that match your giving budget. Put some time and effort into this. Spending money on something we think so-and-so will enjoy is a waste of time and money. Either they’ll hate the gift (which is a waste of your money) or you’ll take it back later for something else (which is a waste of time and gas, a.k.a. money).
3. Know how much the item normally costs. Retailers are SO GOOD at making things look cheap. Even if they’re only a few bucks less than regular price, they’re perceived as heavily discounted thanks to those with marketing degrees. Don’t buy the hype. Check out Amazon.com, Shopper.com or Nextag.com to see what the item regularly goes for before walking into a store.
Armed with a list of people, gift ideas and prices will make your holiday shopping incredibly easy.
- Browsing the Black Friday ads won’t be overwhelming because you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for.
- You’ll know whether it’s really a good deal or not because you have the everyday price written down.
- Since you don’t need to browse, you’ll free yourself up to take advantage of online free shipping promotions. You could even earn cash back if you shop through Ebates!
Ever since Black Friday 2008, Mr. Crumbs and I have gracefully declined to join in the shopping frenzy. We’ve found that the items we want to give are usually not on sale anyway (like tickets to events or date-night gift certificates), or they’re not discounted enough to warrant the headache that being packed into a Wal-Mart like sardines at 5:30am causes.
Instead I cheer on our friends who are seeking those door buster deals. We all get Starbucks (which is easier now that they re-open late Thanksgiving evening 😉 ) and talk, laugh and enjoy each others company while standing in line. We huddle in the cold, plan our attack and assign tasks to everyone.
And everyone has a website pulled up on their smart phone to see if they can buy it online for the same deal, just in case we walk too slow. 😉
What about you? What’s your plan of attack for Black Friday?
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