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Demystifying Black Friday

You wipe the sweat from your brow and take deep breaths to slow your heart rate—when suddenly—you spot what you’ve been looking for! You take a step forward to claim your prize but you notice a heavyset man galloping towards what’s rightly yours with his even larger son in tow. After some quick thinking, you decide that a new Sony Cyber-shot digital camera at a 10% discount might not be worth the trouble after all. Shamefacedly, you leave the store with your tail in between your legs and the stench of failure all around you. Black Friday is no joke. If you read this article thoroughly, maybe you’ll avoid being like this loser, so drop your food for a quick second and pay attention.

But first, what exactly is Black Friday? Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving Day each year which marks the beginning of holiday shopping. Traditionally, retailers offer discounts and special deals sweet-sounding enough such that many stores open up the next morning to find anywhere from dozens to hundreds of people waiting anxiously outside. Different stores have different opening times, though in my experience, most open between 4-6am.

Make no mistake, this is not an event you take your great grandmother to unless you think she can handle herself in similar situations, like the San Francisco Quake of 1989. Yes, that’s definitely an exaggeration, but no joke, it gets serious. Just two years ago in 2008, a Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death in the opening moments of the event. And I might be misremembering here, but I’m pretty sure most people present didn’t really give a damn until their consciences pulled through in the aftermath.

But anyways, back to November 26th, 2010: for those of us brave enough to weather the…well…weather, I suppose…and the masses of likeminded crazies, listen up. Approach Black Friday like you would a war. Depending on your strategy/goal(s), each store (or each item IN the store) is an individual battle, and you would do well to come up with some plan of action beforehand so you’re not running into hostile territory blind.

But before you go texting your friends and googling for great deals, take the following into consideration:

  1. The retailers are not your friends. Never forget that they are ultimately a business which needs to maximize profits. It’s even in the name, Black Friday, where black represents the retailers going into the black (which means that they are turning profitable).
  2. The retailers will lure you into their stores by offering discounts on some of the goods, but they make their money from the other items which are, in fact, not discounted at all, but sometimes overpriced.
    1. The basic lesson here is that you should keep an eye out for the discounted items first and foremost. You can always come back for those $60 jeans later.
    2. If you pick out an advertised $600 television including tax, for example, and your total bill comes out to $850 for unknown reasons, make sure to insist on the advertised price. It’s a funny idea, but you can also always threaten to write a letter to the attorney general.
  3. Accessories are often not discounted. You might end up coming out of the store with way less money than you expected. Just be aware of what you’re actually purchasing.
    1. Example: iPod (discounted).
      1. Accessories: iPod clip, iTrip, iGriffin, Skullcandies, etc.
  4. Don’t buy things on credit unless there’s no real interest fee to worry about or if it somehow stacks up as better than your credit card.
  5. Keep an eye out for the reject/overstocked items they’re just trying to get rid of.
  6. Stay focused. Once again, this is battle and they are not your friends. Few battles are won without focus.
  7. If you wanna be really hardcore about it and you know what you want and other people know what they want, you should shop in teams! I kind of did this last Black Friday with one of my closest friends.
  8. Do your research.
    1. The retailers often leak their special deals early.
    2. Surf the web, you’ll find it everywhere.
    3. Check out the local newspaper the day of or the day before.
    4. Check out the Black Friday App from for an example of what the apps for this event are like.

Good, you already know more than the typical Black Friday enthusiast. Below are a few deals I found simply by looking up the major retailers:

A.      Target

B.      Wal-Mart

C.      OfficeMax

D.       Apple

E.       Macy’s

F.       Gamestop

What I found to be interesting were the new tactics made by some retailers to open their doors even earlier than in the past. Toys”R”Us, for example, will be opening in some locations at 10pm on Thanksgiving (Thursday night). I can’t wait to see whether this was a good bet on their part.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading and have a great Thanksgiving Day (don’t try to fight the serotonin)! And don’t forget to get a good night’s rest.

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Posted by on November 25, 2010 in Business/Technology


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