Black Market: Shopping Tips for Black Friday

Planning on braving the crowds this weekend for some big-bargain hunting?  Check out the list of tips below to make your trip as painless as possible. 

1.  Readin', Writin' & 'Rithmatic.
  •  The best way to start any adventure is always PLANNING.  Read through the ads online or in Thursday's giant newspaper (even if I already know what's out there, I LOVE getting that paper and ripping through it til my living room looks like the bottom of a canary cage.) (Minus the droppings...). Being familiar with the deals before you start your lists and schemes can help tremendously.  (It also makes it easier to decide if going out is even worth it)
  • Keep lists:  It helps if you have a list of gift ideas and people you need to buy for BEFORE you start combing the ads, but everyone works differently.  As you read through the paper or online ads, make notes of deals, stores and prices that you want to check out.  Consolidate them by store. 
  • Do some fancy math (don't worry, you shouldn't need to take your shoes off - just use your phone as a calculator) and total up the prices that you're looking at.  Are they doable?  How many stores do you want to get to? Do any of them have specific times that deals are only good during?  Re-organize the Stores-To-Visit list by times.  Now, you have a plan. 
2.   Dress Up to Strip Down.
  • Wear a form fitting top and leggings as the base layer in your outfit.   If the lines for the dressing rooms are at amusement park lengths, you can easily try things on sans privacy curtain. Just slip clothes over your leggings and a tank and then perform a victory dance in front of anyone still at the "Line 60 minutes from this point" marker.  
3.  Know Store Policies 
  • Pretty obvious, but in the thick of the mess, one may forget to check.  Most department stores have excellent return policies, however, smaller trendier stores are more likely to have strict "exchange only" or "Come back and you'll be shot on site" policies.  Know who has what before you make a purchase.
  • And hopefully it doesn't need saying, but don't be That Guy. The reason some stores have no-return policies is because so many people try to get away with wearing things a few times and then bringing them back.  And if the store is forced to take them, it means one of two things: either someone else is going to wind up with something that is NOT new (which isn't fair to them), OR the company won't be able to restock it and it will wind up getting trashed. Which, in my opinion, is the same as stealing. 
4. Get a Gift Receipt 
  • Many stores do this automatically during the holidays, but don't count on it.  Just make it a habit to ask for a gift receipt and then you'll be covered.  
5.  Bring Snacks.  
  • This may seem silly, but trust me, you'll be glad when everyone else is in 15 minute lines for $20 junk food they will regret within 2 minutes of eating.  You, meanwhile, can chomp down on an apple and granola bar while commenting loudly "Gosh! This line sure does seem long! Glad I can continue directly to the next store without stopping to increase my odds of immediate diabetes!"

Other Thoughts: 

1. Go With Cash
  •  If you're working within a budget, taking cash is a great way to make sure you don't overspend.  With credit cards it's easy to forget that you're bank account is dwindling with every purchase. 
2. There's an App for That
3.  PJs and a Cuppa Joe 
  •  A commonly held misconception that you have to visit a store to receive Black Friday deals.  Most stores offer the exact same deals online as they do in store.  Just be aware that, depending on demand, you may have extended wait time for shipment.  
  • Many websites actually offer more deals online than they do in store.  And not all deals are advertised, so think of it like a treasure hunt! 
And lastly...

4.  Don't be a douche-canoe
  • You're cranky from being up at 4 AM, dealing with relatives, having your parking space ganked by a blue-haired biddy, and being elbowed in the face by the Extreme Team?   Think how the store clerks feel.  These people have been working long hours, dealing with selfish, self-important shoppers, and are attempting to do it all with a smile.  Be Nice To Them.  At the end of the day, it's just stuff.  Kindness IS infectious.  So go on - infect some people. (Wait a minute, that came out wrong...)

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