The Black Friday Survival Guide

You’re sound asleep. A high pitch wakes you from slumber. You open your eyes, the blur matches the haze of convoluted thoughts. “Is it happening? Am I prepared for the zombie apocalypse?” As the pitch grows even louder you’re faced with the disconcerting answer. No, you are not prepared.

The fog lifts from your thoughts. Your vision clears. The alarm clock, with 2am in a bright orange hue, screams at you from bedside. “Didn’t I just fall asleep?” Yes, you did, after a huge meal and an exhausting night of entertaining company. But it’s time to get up. You’re not about to do battle with the walking dead. It’s much worse than that. You’re about to go toe-to-toe with thousands of people that have the same goal as you—score the best possible deals for your holiday shopping.

It’s Black Friday. And if you do not have a plan, you’re in trouble. You’ve seen it in all of television shows and movies. Those with plans have a better chance at survival against a plague of zombies. That’s zombies—they don’t think, they walk aimlessly, and they’re slow (unless Brad Pitt is in the movie). As the doors open at your favorites stores, for the busiest shopping day of the year, the lines will be long. The people in front of you and behind you have well-thought out strategies, there will be no aimless walking, and they’re fast. Much faster than they look standing in line. If you’re not ready, your Black Friday experience will be like a horror movie.
The Black Friday Players

Shoppers tend to fall into three categories:

The Seeker – This person is the most prepared and knows what he/she wants and knows how to get it. For many, preparation started as soon as Black Friday ended the previous year. Seekers are veterans and know all of the tricks. If you’re new to Black Friday find a Seeker and shadow him/her. Usually they’re easy to spot. They’re all business, no laughing or small talk in line. Many times they are studying their shopping list like they are cramming for a test. Seekers come away with the best deals and most times leave satisfied. However, some Seekers throw courtesy out the door. Be kind to your fellow shoppers.

The Scavenger – This person doesn’t rely on a plan. Scavengers have no aspirations about completing their shopping list in one day. They don’t bring a list. They shop for themselves, occasionally grabbing an item from someone’s wishlist if the deal is just too good to pass up. Scavengers take their time, perusing each aisle, many times stopping to debate whether they really need to buy the first season on The Big Bang Theory on DVD because it’s only ten dollars, even though they’ve seen every episode ten times. These internal debates can create logjams. Scavengers are more laid back than Seekers. Tension arises when a Scavenger blocks the path of a Seeker, so step to the side to weigh out the pros and cons of your purchase. But really it’s only ten dollars and it’s The Big Bang Theory. You can’t go wrong. (That philosophy sometimes leads to buyer’s remorse in Scavengers, so be aware.)

The Bystander – This person is most in tune with Black Friday. They see and know all. Bystanders have no lists and have no plans to buy anything. They are just there to watch the show. Bystanders are easily spotted by their calm look and phone in hand. They tend to hang near the “big deal” items waiting for the chance to snap a photo of a group of people diving for the last printer like it’s a Mark Sanchez fumble. Bystanders are only there for stories to tell their friends and content for their facebook walls.

Well-Thought Out Plans

Preparation begins with the plan. Research starts long before Black Friday deals are announced. Savvy shoppers hit the Internet on fact-finding missions early on. They know the average price of products, the sale prices, the availability, and so on. This is important information to have when planning your Black Friday trip to brick-and-mortar stores.

The best way to succeed is to create three lists.

1. Shopping List – This is the list that includes everyone you’re buying gifts for this holiday season. It’s a good idea, if possible, to have a gift written down also. Shopping without direction on Black Friday will cause you to miss out deals. Along with the gift, list the regular price of the item, so that you know if you’re getting a good deal. It’s also a good idea to have an alternate gift in mind if something is sold out.

2. Personal List – Black Friday is a great time to pick up something that you’ve been wanting at a good price. But again, have a specific list, and include the dollar amount you’re willing to spend.

3. Budget – Set a budget and stick to it. Black Friday deals can be tempting, but if you get carried away, the shopping can put a downer on your holiday season. Have a realistic budget before the doors open and don’t sway.

With the lists complete it’s time to map out a battle plan. Collect sales fliers and rank the stores in order of importance to completing your goals. Many store will have deals only at certain times of the day. Budget your time wisely to ensure you don’t miss out. But keep in mind, the odds may be stacked against you on some of the deals. For instance, if a store has a deal buster on an item but there are only 20 available, be realistic with your expectations about grabbing that deal. It may be better to skip that one.
The Checklist

Black Friday has arrived. It’s still dark out, but it’s time to get going. Be sure you have everything you need.

Your lists
Pen or paper to edit your lists as needed
Cell phone
Sales fliers
Coupons and discount cards
Money, credit cards

Preparing Yourself for Black Friday

Dress accordingly. If you make it to the stores before they open, you’ll wait outside. Layer yourself for the cold weather, but wear something like a hoodie, that’s easily removed once you’re in the heat of shopping. You’ll be on your feet most of the day, so comfortable shoes are a necessity.

Partner up with a shopping buddy. Having a partner affords you the opportunity to split up and grab two deals at once. It’s also good to have someone to hold your bags for you during restroom breaks.

It is going to be a long day, don’t neglect your body. Start with a nutritious breakfast. Avoid fats and sugary food that will give you a temporary high but a hard crash. Take some energy bars, fruit, and water with you. And don’t skip lunch, by that time most of the better deals with be over. Enjoy a break. If you find yourself growing frustrated and tired, it’s time to call it a day. There’s always Cyber Monday.

Stars always survive the zombie apocalypse. Be a star on Black Friday. Be prepared. Be good to yourself, and be polite to those shopping around you.

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