Surviving Black Friday

Black Friday Survival Tips

Mother of Farrell aka Crissy P., has been referred to as a Queen of Black Friday and has 12+ years worth of tips and techniques.  She has been known to camp out three days in advance of a store opening.

I hope you find her advice useful in your own day of reckoning.

Why do you shop on Black Friday?
I shop for the bargains! Give me a pair of $6 jeans (regularly $11) for my 10 year old son any day of the week!

What has been your best Black Friday purchases?
About 8-10 years ago when my kids were little and Black Friday wasn’t the craziness it is now, at Toys R Us I was able to get some great deals on preschool-age toys. The sales were phenomenal on Fisher-Price items, Rescue Heros and simple board games. One year, I’m guessing 2003, I bought Hi Ho Cherry-O, Trouble and Chutes and Ladders for $1.50 each!

Have you witnessed any incidents?
I have seen people getting loud with one another in the Target electronics department. Everyone being very grabby and even taking things from carts while the cart-owner wasn’t looking. I’ve also witnessed van-fulls of people being dropped off at the doorway about 30 seconds beforehand and shoving their way into the doors with screaming and causing general chaos so the throngs of people who’ve been on line since 11:30 pm the night before are distracted and scared like deers in the headlights. That was about 5 years ago. Since then, I’ve noticed there are numerous police officers on foot by the door as well as patrol cars parked in the fire zone shoo’ing away any sort of vehicles in the area.

How much pre-planning do you do?
Lots! I subscribe to an online Black Friday internet site which posts flyers and sales weeks before the big day. In the past, it was actually more fun to search out these deals as not as many retailers participated or tried to out-do one another. Honestly, Black Friday isn’t as fun anymore because the thrill of the hunt is gone. Again, in my early days of Toys R Us, I would get a boot-leg copy of the flyer of the Toys R Us flyer in early-October (don’t ask how I got it!) I would scour the flyer, compare it to regular prices at various stores and then go to the TRU store and map out my route to get in and out quick. These were the days when TRU opened at 6 am and I’d only need to pull into the lot at 5:57 am and walk into the store – no major lines or waiting! Then I’d go through the store on my prepared route, pay and be out of there in 30 minutes. I’d be home with everything hidden before my babies were awake and my husband had to go to work (yes, he had to work Black Friday since he worked in corporate retail)

What are your planning sources? Circulars, email alerts?
In the past – boot-leg flyers as early as possible but currently, online.

What is your typical witching hour to hit the stores on Black Friday? Will you go out on Thanksgiving?
I have gone out on Thanksgiving for specific items but the deal has to be good. Also, we always celebrate Thanksgiving locally and are home long before I need to go out. On Black Friday I try to get to the store and stake my place in line approximately 2.5-3 hours prior to opening, depending on how popular the items are I want to snag. Electronics – get there super early. Toys – get there early. Clothes get there 15 minutes after it opens so you don’t have to wait on line at all!

Do you prefer to go solo or group shop?
Solo. I don’t like to shop on a normal day. I’m not a browser and on Black Friday I have a plan. Get out of my way and don’t hold me back! However, two years ago my husband did tag along with me. He complained in the dark line for 2 hours prior, he irritated me with telling me he was tired and he had to be given specific tasks on what to find in the store. It was like shopping with a kindergardener. Never again!

Any plans this year?
No Black Friday plans for 2012! We booked a Caribbean cruise and will be in the Bahamas that day. I haven’t even looked at the sales flyers yet (and today is the Saturday before) because I don’t want to be irritated that I’m missing out. My girlfriend told me she’d try to get whatever I wanted if its a store she’s at or she’ll order it online for me. I think I’ll give it all a look tonight after I finish packing for my cruise, make a small list and give her my credit card number!!

What are your recommend stores to avoid?
Electronics stores. I don’t care if the 87″ tv at Best Buy will be $42, normally priced at $3500 and the ad claims every shopper will get one. I’m not going to Best Buy at all between Black Friday and Christmas Eve!! I also will not go to WalMart or anywhere near one until after lunchtime on Black Friday. After lunchtime the crazy sales are over, products are gone and I can go in and get $3 flannel pj’s for my kids (and will pick up the socks that have a 70% mark-up because I need them and hey, I’m already going to be standing on line. Well played WalMart. Well played.)

Do you have any celebration traditions once finished for the day?
My kids are pre-teens now and they know precisely what I’m doing. The last few years I’ve taken my stash directly to my parents’ house and hidden it there so it doesn’t have to come home with me. Once they’re back in school the next week I go back there to retrieve it, bring it home, wrap it and hide it in my own house.

Any other tips for those shoppers daring the madness this year?
If you show up at the Target line about an hour before opening, scarfing down three donuts and openly talk about how you can’t wait to get in there and snag the $140 DSLR camera and it will be so easy to do because a) there are plenty in the store; b) you know a secret and easy route to the Electronics Dept.; or, c) there are 4 in your group all going in at once so you have a better chance of getting at least one (but believe you’ll get four), DO NOT GET OFFENDED OR GIVE ME ATTITUDE WHEN I FEEL COMPELLED TO LAUGH AT YOU, SNAP YOUR PICTURE ON MY PHONE AND SEND IT DIRECTLY TO FACEBOOK WITH THE CAPTION – “HELLO DARWIN? YOUR DEFINITION OF ‘FITTEST’ IS FLAWED!”!

Awesome insight!

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One thought on “Surviving Black Friday

  1. Queen of Black Friday, JoeFarrell’s Mom, Crissy P. here. For the record I have never camped out three days prior for anything. Like, ever! However, I will admit that I’ve probably spent an equivalent 72 hours each year planning & researching my Black Friday Adventures.

    Now onto my new favorite obsession – on-line shopping! My challenge this year is to spend less than 6 hours shopping in actual stores. And free shipping!!

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