Admittedly, you could have put this tip to better use a couple of weeks ago. Just put it in your file for next year, m'kay?
The Bionic Man and I have perfected the art of Black Friday shopping. In other words, we don't go shopping on Black Friday. Instead, we have found a much less stressful means of getting Black Friday deals without the early hours, the crowds, and the occasional fist fight (among other shoppers, not ourselves). For some of you, this may sound strange, but I freely admit that I do not enjoy shopping. If I could get away with doing it all online, in my pajamas, I totally would. So, when the Bionic Man and I figured out a way to not shop on Black Friday but still walk away with the items we wanted for Black Friday prices, we felt like we'd struck gold.
This is how we do it:
1) Approximately a week before Thanksgiving, we contact the stores in our area that we think we'll be shopping at, and get a verbal confirmation of their price-guarantee policy/price-matching policy/returns policy. We are looking for stores that will do this: refund the money we've spent on an item if it goes on sale after we purchase it. There are a number of retail shops that will do this, but you need to check the fine print very carefully if you are going to take advantage of this. Usually, there is a time limit for doing this: 14 days, 7 days, or 48 hours from the date of purchase are common limits. We also check on what we have to do to get the additional discount. Generally speaking, you are required to bring in the receipt during the sale. I like to get the name of the employee I talked to, when I do this over the phone, just in case.
2) We make a list of those stores, and list the requirements they have for honoring sale prices on previously purchased merchandise. And we check it twice. In my area, Target, Old Navy, and Sears have 14 day price matching policies.
3) We start scoping out the internet. Leaked info on Black Friday sales is widely available on the internet, even before the official publications of store Black Friday sale ads. So, we go looking for the ads for the stores that have price matching policies.
4) Once we find ads for the stores we're interested in, we make a list of items that they have that we'd like to buy. We don't just write down "Legos", either. If the Black Friday ad says, "430 piece deluxe Lego Creator set", that's what we write down. It pays to be specific. It also pays to take note of the times when these items go on sale for Black Friday. Are they doorbusters, or part of a day long sale? This is important info.
5) After creating our list, we go shopping for the items that we're looking for....BEFORE Black Friday. Long before. Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, is when you'll find the Bionic Man and I out doing our anti-Black Friday shopping. This is probably the only time we EVER use a credit card, because we generally have to spend 30-50% more on these items than we will when they are on sale.
6) Then we enjoy Thanksgiving. And we sleep in on Black Friday.
7) At about 9 o'clock in the morning, on Black Friday, one of us heads back to the stores where we purchased items, walks up to the quiet, line-free customer service desk, and gets money refunded for all of the items we bought that went on sale. It takes about 5-10 minutes per store. (Although Sears took longer this year, they no longer have a dedicated customer service area, so I had to wait in line with everyone else. Waaa.)
This method has worked extremely well for us for the past 3 years. Here are a couple of things that we've learned along the way:
- Target is by far the easiest store to work with for price matching; they'll even do it if you bought the item at another Target location. Wal-mart is by far the worst store to work with for price matching. I won't go into details, but after last Black Friday, I quit shopping at Wal-mart FOREVER (I'd been looking for a good excuse anyway.)
- Having trouble finding advertised Black Friday items prior to the big day? Some stores take items off the shelf prior to Black Friday. Others (like Wal-Mart) have what seem to be the items on their shelves you are looking for pre-Black Friday, but put out slightly different products for the actual sale. An example: last year Wal-Mart was selling TomTom GPS systems on Black Friday for a crazy low price. What we discovered was that the items on the shelves before Black Friday had a model number like this: A2009-XS....but the Black Friday doorbuster item was model number A2009-X. I kid you not, Wal-mart gets these brands to manufacture lower-quality, less expensive items for its Black Friday sale. Sneaky, eh?
- Knowing that there are usually really fantastic sales on electronics, we tend to save up for those during the year and wait for the Black Friday sales. Keep in mind that the other really good day for sales is the day after Christmas, so you can try this method then, as well.
Good luck with your holiday shopping!