Black Friday: Your Plan of AttackPosted by Jess - 25/11/09 at 08:11 am
I love shopping and consider myself to be an expert in finding even the most elusive item at a great price. I missed my calling as a personal shopper… But even with those credentials, I find Black Friday daunting. The crowds, the noise, the crowds.
Did I mention the crowds?
My holiday shopping preference is actually to take a day or two off in the middle of the week to shop, ideally in the morning. That’s when sales staff are fresh and the merchandise is still organized to a point where its correctly labeled and priced. I worked in retail all through college so I know chaos when I see it. Try the GAP at 9pm on Black Friday and you’ll know what I mean. It looks the floor of a frat house on laundry day. Or the cast of sesame street fallen into a football tackle of wool and cotton blended knits. —–Folks, this is not the environment where good gift selecting decisions are born.
Get ready to hate me but my Christmas shopping is pretty much done. But hear me out! With that extra time, I’m going to help YOU. I’ll be running a series of gift shopping posts to try to cover a lot of your typical woes and worries –namely: budget, time, and gifts that will send the right message.
First up, Black Friday: Your Plan of Attack
- Try small boutiques instead of the big malls. They’re just as likely to carry special sales but the crowds will be smaller and the staff generally more knowledgeable.
- Organize your shopping list by store rather than by person. This will help you out once you’re at the mall or shopping district. Map out the stores to avoid extra walking.
- Do an extensive survey of your email and paper mail before you leave the house. Organize all your coupons and clip them to your shopping list. Some stores will even scan your screen if you can pull up the email coupon on your mobile phone.
- If you are looking for very specific things, identify a sales person as soon as possible and give them your list verbally (or even on paper). Does that sound pushy? No way. Sales people love simple tasks that give them a sale with minimal fuss. Men are the masters at it. I can remember working in a lingerie store one holiday and men would come in with their wife’s sizes written on a piece of paper. They’d hand that to me with their credit card and their preferred dollar amount and then they’d relax on our plush sofa. I’d come back with a few choices, they’d point, and then I would ring it up and gift wrap it. They left the store in less than 10 minutes with a perfectly selected gift ready to put under the tree.
- Bring snacks and fluids. Something about the heat at these shopping malls just turns my throat into the Sahara. Keep hydrated and well nourished. I don’t think Gatorade would be overdoing it…. this is an endurance sport! For lunch, you can either battle the food court (and I do mean battle) or you can put your name in at an attached restaurant. I don’t know about you but this is one time where TGIFridays really appeals to me. Put the bags down and refuel. Perhaps a glass of wine to take the edge off?.
- Again, scan your email for sale specials and coupon codes. Not on the right email lists? Try over at retailmenot where they compile all the latest coupon codes for the online retailers. Also, for a great summary of online deals this weekend, check out this list over at Lucky Magazine.
- Buy in bulk. Your best bet for online deals is to try to knock out as much of your list as possible in one place. The more you buy, the bigger the discount. Many retailers will also offer free shipping with a minimum purchase. Try Amazon, Overstock, and various department stores for great online prices and a wide selection for everyone on your list.
- Buy early. Don’t wait around until mid December to make your selections or you risk backordered items and inflated shipping costs.
- Try retail conglomerates like the group of Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic/Piperlime. You can order across their storefronts and combine shipping costs.
- Consider handcrafted and personalized items at Etsy. Identify one or two crafters you love and empty our their stock! Ideas are endless: jewelry, decorative signs, photo frames, handknit scarves, you name it… Best part, you’ll be supporting a small business.