If you asked me to name my favorite holiday, I would always choose the holiest day of the year; Black Friday. In fact, I make a Black Friday paper chain in September, the kind that you rip a link off every day, in count down of that special day. There is nothing more American, than a bunch of grown adults standing for hours on end in the freezing cold, only to wrestle over the last $5 panini maker. Because, as we all know, a $5 panini maker is the only thing that will bring a smile to poor aunt Ruth’s face come Christmas morning. But, venturing into the trenches of Black Friday is not for the faint of heart; it is all out war. Now, having seen Saving private Ryan twice and read the back page of The Art of War, I feel more than qualified to guide you to a victorious B-day.
Choose your troops
Now you need a solid, preferably light, group to hit the stores with, so choose your soldiers wisely. I first decide what each individual brings to the table before I make the cut. I love my Aunt Ruth to pieces, but I know her pre World War II legs will only slow me down. And I can’t have her incessant need to use “the ladies quarters” get in my way of Kohl’s $2.99 towels. Leave the dead weight at home! Like war, elderly and children need not apply. My team consists of my Cousin Tina. She brings speed, and runs three miles every morning. My sister in law, an accountant, keeps everyone on budget. My Aunt Sally because every good squad, needs a rallying cry and she is it. Last year when the group couldn’t muster enough strength to make it to Best Buy for $3 dvd’s of Hanging with Mr. Cooper, she rallied the girls to three more stores. Plus, she has the best tank; a 1991 Chevy Astro van. It may have a duct taped side door and no back seat, but it can squeeze more bags in it than a diesel truck. Finally, rounding out my squad is my friend Dee. Now, I don’t like being rude to people on such a magical day, but I know the minute someone tries to “join” their friend in line in front of me or pillage my cart when I turn around, Dee has my back, and will issue a verbal (non violent) smack down it need be. Every group needs a Dee!
This might be the most vital step, always create a strategy in ADVANCE. Now, I have been working on mine for the past eight months, but the day before will do. Since the majority of my squad is my family, we are all together that Thursday to prepare… I mean to celebrate Thanksgiving. We set up a war room complete with store ads, laptop, map and a whole lot of strategizing. After scouring the ads, we all make a list and then reduce it down to the must have deals. Next, we figure out our Holy Grail store. That is your stand- in- line and brave the cold store. Now, if your group is torn, find a shopping center that has both top priority stores. That way you can split into two groups and effectively be in two places at once. Now, how long you plan on waiting in line for the store to open is up to you. I find as long as I get in line before the store opens, 30 minutes or so, I am able to score. Unless, you have your eye on the one $80 flat screen TV that store has to offer, and if that is the case I suggest you get in line now, it’s unnecessary to wait hours. Dvd’s, blankets, and appliances are very well stock for at least the first hour or so.
Like any good General, I stay up all night to make final preparations for battle. One needs to be ready to deploy at moments notice to your predetermined meeting spot, so be prepared. Always have your communication device charged and ready to go with all your troops numbers on speed dial. Don’t take a purse, but instead a small hip bag, fanny pack (yes, I said Fanny pack) etc. Pre-pack it with just the essentials: phone, credit card/ID, cash, shopping list, (you can’t leave that to memory when the pressure is on). If you are brave enough to get a few hours of sleep before battle, set two alarms. Also, check the weather report so you can set out a temperature appropriate uniform. I like layers, you can always shed them as the day warms up.
The time has come; this is where we separate the men from the boys. Moments before store entry, Aunt Sally always leads us in prayer to Saint Imelda Marcos, the patron saint of shopping. Once the door swings open, it’s do or die. My troops split up immediately, and head to their predetermined departments, ready to pillage and conquer. Let the enemy grab a cart, it will only slow them down. God gave you two arms (hopefully) so use them to hold as much as possible. And above all stick to your list. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the sale, and before you know you are the proud owner of an electric churro maker. So stay focused while moving quickly and proficiently. You have about 25 minutes max to grab your treasures and meet at the check out. This is not a leisurely day where you peruse Target’s cosmetic department and try on your favorite reality stars newest perfume. No, this is an old fashion cut and run. You get in get out and rush to your next target (pun intended).
Post battle wrap up:
Congrats!!! You and your troops have successfully navigated the dangerous Black Friday terrain. Some may be a little battered and bruised but non the less victorious. My troops and I always enjoy a must needed IHOP victory feast with a side of post battle gloat over all the wondrous deals and near mishaps.
Remember Black Friday comes only once a year, and during the hustle and bustle of the day it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of it…. SAVING MONEY! If you are not saving at least 40% off retail, don’t get it! Best of Luck!!