How do you get ready for Black Friday, that infamous post–Thanksgiving Day shopping-bargains-at-dawn scene? “If you’ve camped out for Springsteen concert tickets, you’re ready for it,” says Jen Singer, creator of the parenting-humor website mommasaid.net and a clubmom.com expert from Kinnelon.
But if you hope to score a flat-screen TV for less than $200 by spending the wee hours after Thanksgiving in the parking lot of a Circuit City, Best Buy, or Wal-Mart, will it really be worth it? Probably not, says Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports. Stores offer rock-bottom prices on the season’s must-haves as loss leaders. Don’t expect quality; some of these off-brand items can’t compete with, say, Sony or Toshiba. How, then, to get a real deal? Reynolds and Singer offer these tips:
Compare prices. Otherwise, you may be lining up for hours for very modest savings. Compare flyers, and do some online research. (Last year one hacker, a college student, posted flyers from many major stores well in advance; some sites, such as salescircular.com, legitimately offer the flyers early.)
Cybershop. Many Black Friday specials are available online beginning at midnight on Friday, says Singer. You could pay the same price, minimize shipping costs (many stores ship for less if you’re in no hurry), and save on gasoline and aggravation.
Leave the children home. “It’s like roller hockey in these stores,” says Singer. Your kids will be miserable.
Expect rudeness. And don’t take it personally.
Read the fine print; expect quantities to be limited. That early-bird special may apply only to the first fifteen buyers.
Have a plan. Shop first at stores offering the biggest savings and with the most items on your list. Don’t fret if you have to let go of some of the smaller deals.
Think of it as an adventure. “It’s not for the faint of heart,” says Reynolds. So go for the adrenaline rush, to be part of the crowd, to come home with a story. At least we’re lucky to live in a state where we don’t have to drive an hour to the nearest Kohl’s.
Stay home if you’re cranky. “If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, please don’t bring it into the store,” says Singer.Click here to leave a comment