Thanksgiving sure is gonna be packed this year. Between a new Muppet movie to see RIGHT AWAY, retail stores starting Black Friday sales earlier, and oh yeah, a huge gathering of family for the requisite feast, there’s not a minute to spare.
It’s true — setting aside the blasphemous retailers open all day on Thanksgiving itself, there are a number of places at which you’ll have to line up late Thanksgiving night to have a prayer of scoring the hottest sale items. It takes planning, and while some companies are still stuck in the 20th century, most of them tacitly accept or explicitly condone the websites hosting leaked or pre-released sale flyers. These include blackfriday.com, blackfriday.us, blackfriday.info, theblackfriday.com, blackfridayads.com, 2011blackfridayads.com, and my personal favorite, bfads.net.
In addition to posting flyers, some sites offer articles, contests, customizable shopping lists and store hours. Several bill themselves as “official,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. No single site has everything; bfads.net is somehow the only one with a list of stores that you can sort by the time they open the day after Thanksgiving, but the list omits a few stores that other lists include.
The following advice isn’t comprehensive either.
• Divide and conquer: You can’t be everywhere at once. You certainly can’t secure a decent place in line when you’re fighting the crowds in a big box store across town. But remember, other shoppers are in the same boat — maybe even friends and family. If both you and your pal have found deals you simply must have at stores opening at the same time, exchange lists. They’ll pick up that turnip twaddler for you since they’re going to Sears anyway, and you can fit an extra WiiStation 420 game in your basket for them. Just settle up afterward.
• Stagger your assaults: A truly staggering number of stores have moved their sales up to midnight, including consumer electronics meccas Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart. That’s bad if you want to personally hit all three before sale stock runs out, but it also means there’s a good couple hours before the second round of openings at 4 a.m. After your evening turkey coma, stay up late instead of getting up early and then power nap between shopping trips. For openings at the same time or an hour apart, send separate teams if you can.
• Anticipate the weather: It will be cold. Even a balmy November day starts as a frigid early morning, and you’ll be standing around in it. Layers are good, as always, as is waterproof clothing. Umbrellas are nice outside but quickly turn into a dangerous liability in crowded store aisles.
• Shop the sale items: The whole point of those drastic sale prices is to draw you into the store, where you just might buy other stuff at regular prices. Nothing wrong with that, but do you really need to spend precious Black Friday time browsing non-discounted wares?
• Know what they’re selling: Make sure that advertised gizmo is the precise one you’ve been lusting over. The one with the 250GB hard drive rather than 4GB flash storage. The one with 3G in addition to WiFi. The new model rather than last year’s version on clearance. Compare model numbers and configurations on manufacturers’ websites to avoid buyer’s remorse.
Get more tips, musings and self-effacement at twitter.com/CitizenjaQ.