I remember one of my first experiences with Black Friday shopping. I was standing in line at Sears in below freezing temperatures with my pre-teen sister-in-law. At one point, well before the doors opened, she looked at me and said, “So people really think this is fun?”

I remember one of my first experiences with Black Friday shopping.

I was standing in line at Sears in below freezing temperatures with my pre-teen sister-in-law. At one point, well before the doors opened, she looked at me and said, “So people really think this is fun?”

Yes, I admit, I am one of those crazy people who enjoy leaving the house before sunrise to fight the crowds, all in the name of savings. This year, I am not afraid to say, I will be out at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night to make a run to Toys R Us and will continue through most of the night.

But unlike some people, I am not after any huge electronic purchase or anything specific.

I simply love the atmosphere of Black Friday. I find the whole experience exhilarating.

Sure, I always look through the ads just in case their is an amazing deal on something I want. However, because we finish a majority of our Christmas shopping prior to Thanksgiving, I am usually not after a ton of presents. I do always come away with something, whether it is movies or a Christmas dress for my daughter, but the primary reason I go is not for the “lowest prices of the year.” It is because I truly have a great time.

I am not a professional when it comes to Black Friday shopping, but in the decade or so that I have been going out in the wee hours of morning, I have learned a few things.

 

1 Patience. One of my main rules is to be patient. If you cannot be patient, the best option is to just stay home and wait until later in the day to shop. There will be hundreds and hundreds of people in a small space, and there will be long checkout lines. That is a complete certainty. It is also very possible that what you want, might not be there. Stores only carry a limited number of certain items, especially if those items are drastically marked down. But if you go into Black Friday with a little bit of patience, the shopping trip will be even more fun and maybe more successful than you thought it would be.


2 Plan ahead. I start looking at Black Friday ads weeks before they come out in the newspaper on websites such as www.bfads.net. This gives me an idea about which stores I might want to go to on Black Friday. These sites also allow you to create a shopping list, where the items you are interested in are categorized by store. On Thanksgiving, I purchase one newspaper and go through the ads a second time, circling what I like and tossing the extra pages.

Hint: Always read the fine print. Some stores like Wal-Mart, have some items on sale only at certain times. Others, such as Jo-Ann and JC Penney, are making coupons available on Friday and Saturday. But these can only be used during specific hours or on a certain day. It is best to always read the fine print carefully, so you don’t get burned going to the store.


3 Research, then shop. Just because a store says it is a deal, doesn’t mean it is the cheapest. A good example of this is DVDs. Several stores, including Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, will have DVDs on sale. However, the prices are not always the same. Check all of the ads to find who has the best price. The same goes with TVs and other electronics. Prices can vary among stores, so research both online and ad prices to find who has the best deal.


4 Have a sense of humor. There will be men and women who literally run through the door come the stroke of midnight or whenever your favorite store opens. There will probably even be some people competing for the same item and those who are vocally disappointed over not getting what they want. The best advice is to stay out of their way and put a smile on your face.


5 Stay at home. It is possible to go Black Friday shopping without leaving the comfort of your home. Amazon.com is known for its Black Friday deals, and they also end to price match other retailers. Amazon also offers Black Friday Deals Week, where it offers a variety of deals each day leading up to Black Friday. Other retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, offer online only sales as well as free shipping on some orders.