Don’t you just love all these crazy named-days?! Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Shipping Monday, it’s marketing brilliance at its best. I was trying to get away from this myself, but it’s kinda hard when you’re personal finance blogger ;) So instead of fighting it, I figured I’d at least share some of the tips I think might actually help you! My all-time favorite being Black-Friday.net.
I plan on skipping the early part of Black Friday myself, but since I love some good drama I can’t resist all of it…I’ll probably hit up the usual suspects around noon and see what happens. Best Buy & Target are always fun cuz crap is flown all over and all the associates look like zombies. haha…I don’t know why that amuses me.
Back to the Black Friday Tips
There’s a killer book I was recently made aware of called “Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate” by Freeman Hall – a former handbag manager at Nordstrom’s. Apparently he knows bad behavior well, routinely dealing with shoppers who try to return worn handbags filled with used tampons and braziers, splatter fitting rooms with bodily fluids, and who cheat, lie and beg to get the almighty discount (hah!).
Here are some of my favorite tips from the book…and mostly because they’re funny:
Case the Place & know what you want ahead of time – Check out the store the day before Thanksgiving (that’s today!) so you can make a beeline to the items you’ve coveted. Talk to sales associates to get the low down on what will go down. Also, not everything is on sale during Black Friday. The best deals are advertised because the stores buy them in bulk.
Bring Your Ads If You Want To Price Match – Target and Walmart are offering the same exact printer, but Target is selling it for $10 cheaper, and you’re at Walmart. Unless you have a copy of the ad to prove it, Walmart WILL NOT PRICE MATCH. Unfortunately, they’re not just going to take you at your word and give you the item without proof. So if you forget the ad and the cashier hasn’t been provided with a copy, expect to pay the higher price.
***Shop Gladiator Style – You are going into sale war. You are a shopper on a mission – think of this day as the Olympics of shopping. Leave uninterested spouses and children at home and bring teenagers who can run fast. (Gladiator shoes not recommended.)
Do the Black Friday Google – Don’t have the time to go through the papers? Can’t remember who has what from the ads you saw on TV? Do the Black Friday Google. There are hundreds of websites with Black Friday sale information, like www.black-friday.net where you can peruse the latest sale ads and updates at all the stores. You can also go to your favorite store’s website for the sale skinny like www.target.com/blackfriday
Make Friends with an Associate – It’s the best way to get the inside scoop on everything. A day or two before Black Friday, check in with them. Often times, they have been briefed on the exact location of all the hottest items their store will be selling, and how many they have. They usually know the quickest way to get from one to department to another. Tell them what you’re after. Listen to their advice. Plan your strategy.
Have a Black Friday All-nighter Party – Afraid you won’t wake up at 3 am to get in line? Then don’t go to bed! Stay up and have a Black Friday All-nighter Party with friends! Make Black Friday-tinis with vodka, blackberry brandy, black raspberry liqueur and lemon twist. And you may not have to wait too long, as some outlet stores actually open at midnight on Turkey Day. Shop all night – sleep all day!
Be wired, not tired – If decide to drag yourself out of bed at 3 am, make sure you energize with massive amounts of caffeine. You know your limit. Maximize your jittery potential without needing Mylanta. Have snacks with you or hit the drive-thru before you get in line. It’s going to be a long morning and you don’t want to spend it in the bathroom with coffee stomach.
Put it in park fast – Don’t waste time circling the lot eight times in hopes of getting a coveted location. It will only take away from time you could be using to get those great deals. As a plus, taking a distant parking space can help you walk off the half a turkey you ate yesterday.
Stampede tip – If you find yourself in an unruly crowd, try to make your way to its edge, where the flow is lighter. Stand straight with feet firmly positioned. Stay calm and conserve oxygen and energy by not yelling or screaming. Brace your arms out in front of you, creating an air pocket for protection. If you see someone down, try and help them up. Or try blocking other people from walking over them.
***Build Team Black Friday – Find out what stores your friends are going to and build a Team Black Friday. See who needs what. Split up with lists and hit different stores. It can save time and win you your sale prize.
Leave Dead Weight Behind – Leave uninterested spouses and others at home and bring teenagers who can run fast and be bribed.
Stay Black Friday Focused – Shop the advertised necessities. Things that aren’t on sale or the hot items of the year will still be there tomorrow. So hold off on buying the groceries and underwear until later. Every moment you spend picking out socks for Aunt Gertrude is a moment you could be missing out on a $5 microwave.
Leave your Black Friday Diva at the door – Kindness and a smile go along way. Sales associates will be more willing to help you if you treat them nicely. They might give you a coupon you don’t have or inside info on shipments. Being rude, snappy and taking a sales associate’s head off because the store ran out of an item fifteen minutes earlier isn’t going to make it magically reappear, and the only thing you’ll get is thrown out of the store.
Don’t use Sob Stories and Lying on Sales Associates – Putting on an Oscar performance of how poor little Katie will be so disappointed because she can’t have that new Barbie for Christmas isn’t going to get you one. Sales associates have heard it all before and they have no magical wand to make your sold out item suddenly appear. At most, all you’ll get is “I’m sorry, Katie will have to wait till next year.”
Do use Sob Stories on Shoppers – While flirting, crying, begging, bribing, and bullying won’t work with sales associates, it may be your perfect Black Friday weapon with other shoppers. If you need that Barbie for Katie, make sure your tears are flowing and you have a lot of cash on you.
Remember “no” means “no” – If the sales associate says they’re out of an item, then they’re out! Asking the cashier to check, and then asking for a manager to do the same thing is going to waste everybody’s time. Including yours. And no, they do NOT hold certain amounts of items in the back for the cashiers/associates/managers. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year and retailers aren’t going to be holding out on the shoppers by hiding stock in storage. If they say they are out then they are out.
Expect to be touched, pushed, and perhaps even shoved – These sales can at times bring out the worst in people, and often times the words “personal space” cease to exist in favor of getting the best deal on the hottest item. If you’re shoved aside because you’re moving too slowly for the liking of the person behind you, try to remember that the store can’t control it, and often times, unless you’ve been hurt, won’t do anything about it either.
Have a back-up plan to pay – If your credit card is rejected the first time, it’s going to be rejected no matter how many times the cashier tries to run it. So make sure you have a back up method to pay for things so you’re not going home empty handed. And, no they won’t hold everything. And no you shouldn’t try to make a run for it.
Hold your Black Friday horses – Be patient at the checkout. You’ve gotten everything on your list and it’s down to the home stretch…but there are 56 people in line ahead of you. Take this moment to relax and collect your thoughts. Focus on your next stop instead of tapping your foot and sighing expectantly. The line won’t move any faster.
***Do a Random Act of Retail Kindness – Do something nice for a Sales Associate on Black Friday. Their Thanksgivings were ruined and they are working long hours. Buy them a drink or candy bar. Pick something up off the floor. Or just be friendly. It will make their day – and yours! You will gain Shopping Karma points as well!
Okay, that is all.Black Friday is still 2 days away and I’m already tired of it. The main thing to take away from all this – PLAN AHEAD! You will save hours, if not dollars, when shopping your heart away. And even more importantly, enjoy Thanksgiving with your loved ones :) I will be hanging out w/ the fam taking in lots of good food & gossip, and I hope you do too! God bless everyone!