Black Friday Survival Guide: 10 tips to make your shopping experience easier and better than ever

Caroline Babula ('09)/Eastside Entertainment Editor

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the nation’s biggest retail holiday. Mobs of people run out to retailers and malls to commence their holiday shopping on this day, which is both hectic and stressful. However, following these easy tips will greatly reduce hassle and pressure.
 
1. Know what you want.
Inside the Thanksgiving Day newspapers are circulars for every store advertising their special deals. Use these circulars to compare prices for certain items and mark off what you are interested in. When done, transfer the items you want onto one piece of paper, labeled with the item, the store it’s at, and the cost (with tax added). Then, add up the total cost at each store, so there are no surprises on your wallet. (But also remember to bring a little extra just in case there is another, unadvertised, deal where you are going.)
 
2. Have a backup plan.
If you are not one to get up before the crack of dawn, be prepared to find out your popular item, like TVs, computers and cameras, may be sold out by the time you get there. Therefore, plan ahead by choosing two or three items you like and are willing to pay for, thus increasing your odds of actually being able to buy it.
 
3. Plan your day.
Create a game plan of where and when you are going to a certain location. It is wise to go to the store opening earliest first, unless your most-desired item is somewhere else, in which case that store should be the first stop. Set general goals of the time you want to be at a store, but make sure you add in traffic and extra-long lines to your estimations.
 
4. Layer your clothes.
Each Black Friday starts out freezing cold, which calls for coats, gloves, scarves and possibly even hats. Also, if you get to a store before it opens, you are likely to be standing in a long line, outside, so warm accessories will greatly benefit you. However, once inside a store, it gets much warmer. Reduce the amount of belongings you need to carry by wearing a coat with large pockets. Wearing both a sweatshirt and a T-shirt is beneficial for those places that crank the heat way up high.
 
Bonus! Using a basket or cart can also condense items that you need to carry.
 
5. Wear comfortable shoes.
Annual Black Friday consumers know this marathon day of shopping is not about style. Forgo those cute boots for sensible sneakers. Your feet will thank you later.
 
6. Bring a buddy.
Whether it’s your mom or dad, cousins, siblings or a combination of any- or everyone, you should never go solo on your Black Friday voyage. Having at least one other person with you allows y ou to split up and do two things at once. As soon as you walk into a store, one person can go directly in line while the other searches for the items they want, and vice versa (dubbed “The Line Swap”), cutting the time you spend in any store by at least half.
 
Bonus!
If traveling with more than two people, it is wise to use a four-dour vehicle, as it eliminates having to push the front seats up, easily saving several minutes per location.
 
7. Bring a water bottle and/or snacks
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By keeping a drink and/or food in the car, you eliminate the need to stop at restaurants along the way, saving both time and money.
 
8. Try to go to the locations you know
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By only shopping at the store you commonly go to, you save time by removing unfamiliarity with a particular location’s layout and by not getting lost on the way there. If this is not possible, as you are going to a popular place with tons of stores, even if you do not regularly shop in them, program the addresses of where ever you are traveling to into your GPS device or print out directions from a website such as MapQuest.com.
 
9. Check out websites at midnight
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Some stores have the same deals online. By ordering items at midnight, you get to sleep in and completely get rid of going out into the multitudes of lines and traffic.
 
Bonus!
Some sites, such as CircuitCity.com, have free shipping options if you spend a certain amount of money (specifically at Circuit City, $24 and over). Therefore, you are guaranteed an item and it is shipped to your door, for free, in time for the holidays.
 
10. Have fun!
Don’t let uncontrollable problems bring you down. If the item you wanted is sold out, don’t be angry. There will surely be another sale soon, even if it is not as good of a deal as the one on Black Friday. Instead, treat yourself to lunch or a movie, or go home and get back the sleep you lost by getting up for the Early Bird Specials.