8pm Thanksgiving night you could have found my mother and I standing next to two pallets of bicycles at Walmart. All 3 of my children needed new bikes this year, and Black Friday was the day to get them. So the two of us stood there for 2 hours before they went on sale at 10pm to make sure we could get them. We had been planning our route since the Black Friday ads came out and the Walmart bikes became top priority. Being veteran Black Friday Shoppers we can usually get what is at the top of our list, and get out without being pummeled to death.
It takes a special person to shop Black Friday year after year. You usually see very few men out shopping, according to my husband this is because women are crazy that day, and the ones that are out are with their wives. There are not too many people driving motorized carts or using canes, although I have thought of taking my husband's cane. The majority of people are women in the ages of 25-55, with that slightly crazy look in their eye.
This year while out waiting in lines I encountered a few first timers who wanted to know how I do this year after year. So I have came up with a list of things that help me get through those 36 hours of shopping every year. Yes, I was doing Black Thuraturday this year.
1. DO NOT drink a lot of fluids. Yes, you do need to stay hydrated. Unfortunately the fluids that you take in, must come out. Waiting outside in a line the last thing that you want to do is have to go pee and lose your spot.
2. DO NOT get a cart if you don't need one. When a store is over fire code with the amount of people in it, pushing a cart through it is a pain in the butt. You can weave in and out of people much quicker if you don't have a cart to try and do it with.
3. Take a partner. Partners come in handy if you need to pee (see rule1), have large items that require a cart (see rule2), or need more than one of something that there is a limit on. In case one of you needs a cart the other one can weave through the crowd to get to items on your list. They are also helpful if you need a boost into a bin of pillows, yes I had a friend dive into a bin of pillows one year to get one.
4. Check your ad ahead of time to see if there is a limit on an item. If you are wanting 3 of something and grab three then find out there is a limit of 1 when you get to the check out you are going to be pretty upset. Read the ads ahead of time and take a partner or partners (see rule 3) if needed. This also is good for hitting multiple places in a row as long as they open at different times.
5. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Black Friday shopping requires a combination of standing in one spot for hours and doing a mad dash to grab items. High heels and jeans that you can barely breathe in are not on the list of things that you should be wearing.
6. Check the weather before leaving. I have stood outside in rain, snow, sleet, freezing temperatures, hurricane strength winds, and on occasion the nice night. If you live in a northern state chances are that if you go out in flip flops and a tank top you aren't going to make it standing in the cold for a few hours.
7. Plan on being to the store a minim of 2 hours before it opens, for electronics minim of 5 hours. I know it sounds a bit on the extreme side, but for some reason stores don't even have as many of Black Friday items as they normally would carry on the shelf. So if it's something you really want, say 3 bikes for instance, you want to be first in line for it and know exactly where you are going for it.
8. Print out a plan of the store. Yes, stores actually put these out online with their Black Friday Ads. To maximize the amount of things that you can get plan your route from the most important to the least important taking the least amount of steps as possible.
9. Pray for good line partners!! Being stuck in line with uninteresting, non talkative people sucks! Hopefully you get fun ones to talk to. Otherwise be prepared for a long boring night, or have your cell phone charger with you.
10. If you see that there are more people wanting something than there is amount of them, figure out the weakest link. I'm not saying pepper spray them, or start a fight with them, but maybe just a hip check or accidental elbow to push them out of the way to get your item.
Some day my kids will understand the trouble that mom went to for them to have the hottest item that year. Of course they will be over the age of 18 when this happens, because before then they don't need to see their Grandmother or Mother with that slightly crazy look in their eye right before the plastic is cut off a pallet of sale items. When they are 18 they can come to their first Black Friday sale with us, and maybe appreciate a little bit everything that we have done over the years. Or this could backfire on us and a woman decides that my kid is the weakest link, to which I'm going to have to accidentally elbow her.