Brief Intro to Black Friday
Black Friday is a paradoxical time of greed, lust and thriftiness. It is a microcosm for the avarice of a materialistic culture as well as a time to find really good prices. I know some of you have been looking at the Black Friday ads lately and are interested in joining in on the biggest shopping day of the year. Going in as a virgin or even someone with only a year of experience is dangerous and could be a waste of time. I have been attending Black Friday's since I was a kid and through guile, luck, and occasional bending of the law (stupid, slow old people!) I have survived and been fairly successful. I purchased my PS3 and 360 on Black Friday as well as a large variety of video games, clothing, DVDs and Blu Rays. You must be fully committed if you decide to participate. Going about Black Friday without full zest and fervor will result in you watching as other people purchase all the things you wanted to.
Top 5 General Tips
-New opening times. Stores are opening much earlier this year, some of them even on Thursday night (Wal-mart, Best Buy, Toys R Us etc). This stupid idea means that there will probably be 2-3 times more people than on previous Black "Friday" sales because you will be getting a lot of the casual shoppers (since most people believe it is much easier to stay up late than wake up early).
-Don't forget about Amazon. Not only do you get to avoid lines, the bitter cold of November and being trampled to death while staying in your warm comfy home on your computer, but Amazon also has more and better deals than any other single store. I am considering becoming a full-time Amazon Black Friday shopper because they consistently match the prices of almost every item I end up buying if I go to a physical store. If you decide you want to go to brick-and-morter stores anyway, make sure you bring your smart-phone or laptop so you can keep up with Amazon's deals.
-Other online sales. Other stores have online sales as well. Sometimes they run at the same time, sometimes before Friday (there are some going on right now) and sometimes they wait until the next Monday (called Cyber Monday).
-Be realistic. Don't think just because you see Arkham City for $28 and go to get it that you are going to end up getting it. Some stores might not carry a lot of this item, they might screw up and put them in a weird location in the store where random people stumble upon them, or someone must just get the last copy before you do. Also, in case you didn't know, there are a TON of people at Black Friday. They all want these items as much as you do. If you really want to get something that is at an incredible bargain price you ARE GOING TO HAVE TO get there very early or be really lucky.
-Location, location, location. It doesn't matter if you are one of the first people in the store, if you can't find the item you're looking for it will have been a waste of time. Items are normally not in their traditional location. For example, DVDs and video games at Wal-Mart and Target are in the side isles, not necessarily in the electronics section. That Arkham City game you were looking for in electronics might have just been picked up by someone going to buy milk.
Top 4 Safety Tips
-Avoid pickpocketers. DO NOT put your wallet in your BACK POCKET. You should never do this (for many reasons) but especially not on Black Friday. Black Friday is a pickpocketer's fantasy. Do not give anything for them to steal. Carry just as much cash as you need (or preferably, a card) and put it in your front pocket or your sock.
-Bring a gasmask. Here's news: people smoke. Even if the person smoking a cigarette is 100 people in front of you, the dense lines and crowds will ensure that you inhale some of this idiots venom. Bring a gas mask if you have one or if you don't, DO NOT be afraid to ask a person to not smoke, or use your jacket sleeve as its own gas mask. Also, try assaulting a person who is smoking (after all, they are assaulting you). Then try to get it to the Supreme Court (I think we can win this).
-Trampling. Look, you really have to be an idiot or VERY unlucky to get trampled on Black Friday. Don't let it happen to you and if you step on something that doesn't feel like cement, don't just use it as a springboard to get a leap over someone. Help that person out.
-Prepare for cold. It does not matter where you live, in late November in the morning (or night), it is going to be cold. Bring layers of clothing. Wear multiple socks, pants, shirts, jackets and don't forget neckwarmers, balaclavas (also know as ninja masks), hats, and gloves. It's better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
When should I get there?
If you are after a big item (HDTV, console, Blu Ray player or something that is at an insanely low price) you will be best off arriving 6+ hours before the stores open. If you don't want to risk it, make it 8 hours. For a deal like Arkham City or Uncharted 3 for $30 you better get there 5 hours before it opens. If you are interested in smaller items such as casually-priced video games or DVDs and Blu Rays (always at a good price on Friday – I always walk out with 5-10 films that I picked up for 2-5 dollars each) than you are probably okay arriving 2-3 hours before. Just remember, different locations will be more busy than another. If you get lucky, you may have a store where you are the only one that shows up. If you are in a city, however, never plan on that happening.
Maneuvering the crowd
You've probably heard about the people that get trampled at Black Friday every year and for good reason. People are crazy, and mob behavior is unlike anything you will ever experience in life. Try not to get stuck, look for ways around and squeeze through people. Remember, these people will (probably) never see you again. Try not to get angry. Sure, it's frustrating but everyone else is frustrated to. Expect large crowds!
Can I hide in the store until it opens or go early to scout out where my items will be?
-No. Most if not every store closes a few hours before their sales start. You would have to be really good to be able to hide (it is possible and probably worth a try, however) and the items are moved to different locations in the store to prepare for the onslaught of shoppers.
-It turns out shooting a cap gun in a crowd to clear people out of your way is discouraged by law enforcement.
Tips for Individuals Stores
-2,200+ stores will open at 12:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving night. The remaining stores will open at 5 a.m.
-Some deals are only for used games and some "deals" are not actually sales at all (Gamestop is infamous for this).
-Some deals last for more than just Black Friday (3 days or so)
-Try to go to a Gamestop in a mall of possible. This will allow you to quickly go to other shops after you get what you want there. There are also (usually) not as many people that go to mall-Gamestops for some reason. They are also more likely to open early.
Best Buy Tips
-Good luck. Best Buy has some of the most dedicated shoppers on Black Friday every year. If you want one of those "doorbuster" deals you better show up early...and I mean 8-12 hours before the doors open.
-Grab what you can. Best Buy becomes very crowded. If you manage to be one of the first in, spring to whatever you are looking for and grab whatever you can along the way. Within 20 minutes of opening, Best Buy has reached its store capacity.
Toys R Us Tips
-Toys R Us opens at 9 on Thanksgiving day and goes until Saturday (yup, no longer a Friday thing)
-Children are easy to plow through and jump over. Just watch your step because stepping on them will really slow you down.
-Toys R Us usually doesn't have very many (or very good quality sales) in video games. This year their highlights include DS games (Buy 1 get 1 free) and some PS3/360 games (Buy 1 get one for $5...a few good titles, but there isn't a huge selection)
-Being the retail giant of North America, Wal-Mart is extremely competitive. If you want a chance you better get there very early.
-Despite the fact that I check Wal-Mart every year I have never once found a video game. I believe they may be in the isles (dispersed randomly throughout the ENTIRE store) or they only carry a few copies of each game.
-The grandaddy of business. I don't have much experience with Target other than remembering the sight of a 100 person long check out line (I am not exaggerating, it wrapped from the front of the store to the electronics section in the back).
-Get there early but preferably not at all.
-Look out for items in isles. Games, DVDs and Blu Rays might be in isles and not necessarily near the electronics area.
-They tend not to release their biggest deals until the last minute.
-If you check their website now, you'll see TONS of pre-Black Friday deals which will be going up throughout the whole week. Check these carefully and don't be fooled into believing that these are the best that you are going to get from Amazon. When Amazon releases their BF deals (it starts at midnight on Friday I believe) you will know.
-Amazon also tends to release deals in segments (this deal starts at 8 a.m., then the next deals start at 9 a.m. etc). It is not well-organized so keep your computer next to you and constantly search and refresh the page.
-There are limited quantities with Amazon as well so keep a keen eye on them (they can sometimes last for an entire hour but don't risk it).
If you follow all of these rules exactly you will have prepared yourself 5% for Black Friday. The other 95% comes from experience. Remember to be aggressively patient and try to have a good time. If you don't have a good time spending money on material things that you will not have forever, then you really have no purpose in life, eh?