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Black Friday Gluttons Set To GoPosted Wednesday, November 21, 2012, at 12:48 PM
Instead of writing a Black Friday for Dummies handbook, the thought of writing one for those smart enough to remain on the couch consuming that last slice of pumpkin pie has entered my mind more than a few times over the years. It is inevitable, however, that human nature defines our innate ability to, like a beagle seeks out squirrels, sniff out a bargain. We do this because we are cheap and competitive. Make no mistake, shopping local is always the first priority but, when there are things you must shop for at a large specialty retailer, hunting becomes key and every dollar saved can be spent locally later.
Not unlike the stuffing inside Mr. Turkey, Americans must love to be stuffed into stores across the nation to endure the worst of humanity in the name of a bargain. Gluttons, that is what we are -- for food, for clothes, for shoes, but most of all for a bargain. 'Define bargain,' you say. Well, that is simple, the act of purchasing something you don't need at a price you can't pass up. And with Black Friday sneaking up faster than Brad Keselowski on Jimmy Johnson's NASCAR title, the hearts of many die hard shoppers are set for the green flag, while their pocketbooks are set for a major spinout.
After slaving over the stove, baking four too many pies and gorging ourselves on green bean casserole and sweet potatoes, it is time to focus on the mountain of sales flyers you've collected, and planning strategy for the evening or early morning shopping expedition on which we are about to embark. You know the sales flyers, where towels and sheets bring customers in, while the real "deals" are so limited you must camp out the night before and pray to be the first to get the deal of the year in some electronics lottery drawing. Deal, on what? Another game console or big screen TV? They would be a great gift ... For someone.
Many may laugh at those of us who take Black Friday seriously, but for those of us who opt to brave the stampede of bargain seekers, who get some warped sense of holiday satisfaction out of getting their feet run over by shopping carts piloted by pajama clad housewives in search of a $3 Barbie and some cheap makeup sets, it is all about a bargain. We don't care what kind of bargain either, as long as it is a bargain, even if it is $2 slippers and a $5 coffee maker for Aunt Lucille, who we never see but at Christmas.
The process of holiday shopping begins before the wish bone is dry enough to break. Most men don't take part in this holiday tradition, although some have been spotted hiding inconspicuously behind mountains of bags on a "man couch" at the mall. The looks on their faces tell the grim story. They were drug out of the warmth of their home for their ability to hold things and maybe clear a path, most of them did not sign up for the assignment.. Most look like they just want to go into a serotonin induced sleep from over eating or watch football in peace, instead of watching their credit cards reach their yearly high.
The one thing about the late night or early morning sales you can guarantee is, you will see one of two things, everyone at their ugliest, or at their tackiest. Jingling snowman earrings compliment many women's shaggy Santa sweaters and velvet shoes. Others opt for sweatpants, running shoes and a ponytail. These are the women who, once a year, venture out into the public eye with no makeup. Smiles are few, replaced by looks of determination and a desire for fully charged cell phones. They are must-have devices to text our groupies when we snag a bargain on some fleece, or, better yet, that half off hoodie, so no one on our team duplicates little Suzy's gift. So do not attempt to call us to tell us anything that does not pertain to a bargain during the hours of these sales, EVER.
As a veteran glutton (something for which I am certain I will establish a support group in a few years), I offer you a few tips before departing for the dreaded or anticipated early morning or post Thanksgiving dinner trip.
Number one, wear comfortable shoes. I assure you this is no time to break in those "bad cute" boots you just got at the last "best sale of the year." Secondly, leave that bulky purse at the house. Less is more. Either strap a small purse to your body, or do the man thing and cram tmoney and cards into deep pockets. Why you ask? It is simple. You will need those hands to grab the bargains before granny with her blinking reindeer sweater beats you to the $4 plus-sized towels (Laugh if you will. Two years ago, I watched a lady who looked like she was 110 grab all the $15 towels for four bucks in a single bound. I didn't stand a chance!) The third most important thing to remember is, empty your bladder and drink your caffeine. Yes this is an oxymoron of sorts, but caffeine helps you sprint from bargain to bargain. This is serious business and peeing is not an option at any point and time, until at least lunch.
As my children have grown, my Black Friday experiences, as well as my strategies have been forced to change a bit. From the three a.m. trip to a mega retailer for John Deere tractors and dolls, I am now forced to fast forward to the dreaded mall, where everything they desire is located in far off locations in a multitude of stores.
Those days of printing ads to show a cashier to get a lower price are also over. Thanks to technology, there are now apps for all that. I recall a rare husband-wife team a few years ago scanning a big screen TV with the scan app on their phone, to find the retailer had been outdone to a tune of over 100 bucks at a store two hours away. You got it, they pulled the ad up, showed it to the cashier and received the "door buster deal" for the lower price, with no wait and no midle of the night TV lottery. Imagine the gloating the woman must have done, as she checked out before 5 a.m. and was home dining on turkey omelet's by 7:00 a.m.. You see, most women live for bargains. Men, (for the most part) would rather pay three times more at the 7:00 p.m. Christmas Eve last call, instead of fighting crowds or standing in line for hours.
The key to this type of shopping is not that big of a secret. Pick the most expensive item on your Christmas list and make it priority one to get a deal on it. Aside from buying a tent and camping outside the store, I am on this one. This is probably the time a team approach works best. Go down your list in descending order and place a person at each store where your items are offered, and meet in the middle. This is, of course, if you don't "need" towels, sheets, vacuums, storage containers and other small appliances. If you do, then you are out of luck, my friend, because at the opening of the doors, these things are gone like the pecans on top the pie at your granny's on Thanksgiving. If you are not standing there with your hand on the items, ready to fight to the death for a 1,000 thread count deal at the sounding of the 5 a.m. horn, you are done.
So, whether you think we are crazy or just cheap, Black Friday shopping is a true experience I recommend to everyone, if for nothing else to restock your towels each year.
But, for diehards who want to strategize their trip, here is my Black Friday gift to you (because I am cheap). Drive that mouse on over to www.bfads.net and check out all those can't-live-without bargains. If you are a real glutton, download one of the many black Friday apps for your mobile device.
If you are smarter than me, wait until Monday, put on your $2 slippers from last year's sales, pour yourself a cup of coffee from the $3 coffee pot your friend got for Aunt Lucille, and click away on Cyber Monday.
Tammy has worked at Areawide for over four years and is the Sharp County reporter and does several articles in Avenues.
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