I've been suffering from a little case of "writer's block" lately. So my sister-wife suggested I go ahead and touch on our "Black Friday Victory" while it's still fresh in my head...and now that Christmas has actually passed and I don't have to worry about giving away any secrets about what anyone was getting from Santa.
Let me start with this, all you haters can kiss my ASS!! Until you really experience it, you can't really understand the adrenaline rush it gives you. You can't just go shopping on Black Friday without a plan of attack either...you will LOSE YOUR MIND!! My very first experience was NOT good. I was BROKE and I had no choice but to bring a toddler along that was potty training at the time. NEVER go Black Friday shopping with your kids and NEVER go without money. It's pointless and your attitude is definitely gonna suck!!
We typically start developing our plan of attack before Halloween. The first step is to have a list of everyone that you're buying for and they're Christmas lists.
Step 2: Start regularly checking the online ads. There are several sites that have them listed by store. Especially keep an eye out for any big ticket items that are on your list. Our big tickets this past year were the Wii and 3DS.
Step 3: Once you've got your list of specific stores you want to hit, check their websites for additional coupons. I had several stores that had additional 20-40% off coupons that I printed out and they let us each use them.
Step 4: Map out the best route to take, based on location and hours. Some stores opened as early as 9pm on Thanksgiving, others had door buster deals that were only for certain time frames and then some were all day.
Tip: It helps to work as a team with 1-2 of your close friends or family. This helps when you're in a store and the line is wrapped around the building. When the first of you is done in this store, go ahead and get in line while the others finish. Any more than 3 total in your army and you end up with too many stores to hit and your cargo space fills up too fast.
Here is our generalized plan of attack:
8pm: Get to the N. GA Outlet Mall to get a good parking spot. By midnight there were people parking on the side of 400 and making their own parking spots, blocking aisles....tons of cars getting towed. We walk over to Ruby Tuesdays and have a couple beers and an appetizer.
9pm-Midnight: Hit the mall running...not really running. We knew which stores opened at what time and worked our way around the mall based on that. I can't say that their sales are any better than you would get at your regular mall, but it's part of our tradition to hit it first.
12:30am: Target in Cumming (The best organized, staffed and well planned line set up of all of the stores we hit). We were able to get what we came for, jumped in line and got to chat with other friends we ran into while the line ran smoothly through the store.
1:30am: Walked over to Kohl's...took one look at their line and decided none of their sales were worth the wait.
1:45am: Best Buy. They had some decent sales, but nothing of huge note. Their line was the longest and slowest of the night.
3am: Refueled at Huddle House. The service was a little slow and it was FREEZING inside, but our options were limited.
4am: Belk Madness. They had amazing sales. Tons of boots for $19.99. Jewelry was all at least 30% off. I walked out of there with $250 worth of stuff for $90ish.
5am: Walmart (Try to get to one that isn't right off of the highway...way less crowds that way) They still had 10 Wii's stacked on a pallet waiting for me. I was so thankful I didn't stress myself out trying to get there by 10pm!! They sometimes have a great doorbuster deals, but we mainly hit it because we can scratch a lot of the smaller things off our lists....kill a bunch of birds with one stone.
6am: Academy Sports had some good deals. We did have an issue with one of the items we were getting wasn't ringing up at the sale price, but in the end they figured it out and everyone was happy (and little sleepier). By then we (I) were fading FAST!! The sun was coming up and my pillow was calling my name.
7am: Justice always has decent sales with their 40% off coupons. Would've been really nice if they'd opened a little earlier. We waited in the parking lot for 15-20 minutes for them to open the doors...but yet again got to visit with more friends we ran into.
7:30am: Dropped off my teammates and headed home.
If I had to guess, I'd say I probably spent $500 for $800 worth of stuff. Maybe $300 isn't a lot to you, but to me it's well worth the exhaustion I suffered from and took 2 days to recover from. Plus, I pretty much finished all of my shopping in that one trip...minus a few stocking stuffers and odds and ends. The peace of mind that gives me allows me to actually enjoy the rest of the holiday season without stressing out about my shopping!! So to all of you haters, don't knock it til you try it!! There is a method to our madness...and it definitely wouldn't be as much fun without my partners in crime.