Black Friday Can Be a Blast and Here’s How…

Don’t go! Ha. Ha. Ha….

I hate that. I hate when people hate on Black Friday. It’s changed over the years, as have my own feelings. But I still fight for it.

It was my favorite holiday. Whenever I say that, I get these judgmental looks. And as queen of  judgmental facial expressions, I would know. It’s true, though. Black Friday was just as important to me as Thanksgiving, probably because it was the first holiday I had control of. It was mine, and I could spend it as I chose. I practiced the holiday for a dozen years straight, with friends, with Cory, sometimes alone; staying close to home or going as far as Manhattan and Philly. I shopped when I had to work the same day in retail or at a restaurant. And each and every year, I had a blast. Here are just a few highlights:

Kitchen Gadgets Galore:

A joint shopping trip, Cory and I bought essentially every $8 kitchen appliance JC Penney had to offer — even though neither of us had a house at the time. But we had a griddle, that sat in the back of Cory’s car for years, and a sandwich press that was used once. The coffee maker, still in the box, served as a laptop stand for at least 3 years before being used as it was intended. But the deals!

Manhattan Black Friday or… Friday:

This was with my best friend Karen and her mom and older sister, Lisa. We took a bus into the city, and shopped huge stores like H&M and various shoe stores before the Black Friday sales ended at noon. It was wild, but as soon as noon struck, it was just like a regular day in the city. Best of both worlds.

Shop (Then Work) Til You Drop:

One year I shopped for a few hours in the morning before heading into a 10 hour shift at JC Penney. It wasn’t too bad until the last hour or so. I was pretty much sprawled on the jewelry display case, just to take the weight off my feet.


 

I’ve been up at all times, started the adventure at Kohl’s, Target, and the mall. What I bought depended on the year — sometimes for others, sometimes for me. But despite the idea of the day, for me, it wasn’t about the stuff. Okay, it was a little about the stuff. But mostly, it was about the spirit, the culture, the sheer absurdity of it all.

Even though I’m an introvert, you might call me a crowd-junkie. I get such a rush from being in a big crowd, all feeling the same thing, whatever it is. I’m exhausted afterward, but it’s so worth it. On Black Friday, I love standing in line, listening to what other shoppers are planning. I love bursting into the store, watching others run toward their desired sales. I love the 4 am traffic, and how by 6 am, the mall looks like a busy Saturday afternoon. It’s crazy and strange and amazing to watch.

Black Friday gets a bad rap, mostly due to the unfortunate violence that occurs over these sales, or the injuries from trampling and crowding. The closest I ever came to danger was waiting for the mall to open near the gate in a Sears. A few minutes before opening, the crowd pushed toward the gate, and I found myself caught in it, moving forward from the force of the crowd. It didn’t last long, but it was clear how quickly that situation could have escalated.

Despite it all, I’ve never considered Black Friday stressful or dangerous, simply by by following a few basic rules. I believe if everyone just altered their mindset a little, Black Friday could be a memorable AND productive day. So here we go.

Sarah’s Rules for a Happy Black Friday:

  1. Prepare. Read your flyers. Check for promo emails. Keep an eye on websites. See what catches your eye and if you can plan around your main objections.
  2. Have a shopping buddy. Not exactly necessary. I did Black Friday by myself a few times. But it wasn’t nearly as much fun as when I had someone with me. Whether it’s to help you cover more ground or just for some memories, it’s worth having someone by your side.
  3. Prioritize. Remember that big ticket items are usually very limited, while littler things, like DVD players and clothing, will probably last a few hours. Pick one or two really good deals, and aim for those. Everything else will probably still be there later.
  4. Keep your cool. Just how badly do you need to get that luggage set? Or that TV? While the initial rush can be exciting and the prices alluring, remember that there are a million factors standing between you and that bargain. Waking up on time. Traffic. Place in line. Crowds. Stock. There’s no point in pushing, shoving, or name-calling fellow shoppers or store employees. Which leads me to…
  5. Respect. It’s so easy and costs you nothing! This is key to actually enjoying your shopping adventure. There’s absolutely no need to physically or verbally abuse shoppers or retail employees. Why get angry? You know going in there will be crowds. There will be lines. Products may run out. There may be stipulations to some of these sales. Retail employees can only do so much. If you go in with the mindset that today is not a big deal in the grand scheme, you’ll have a much better time, and by showing basic respect, you’ll make others’ day that much easier, too.

See? Super easy.

If you’re curious about my own experiences, check back tomorrow for my most memorable Black Friday experience.

Do you have any other suggestions for making the day a great one? Share in the comments!

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