TAMPA, FL – It’s not simply a trip to the mall for these die-hard shoppers. For them, braving the Black Friday crowds is a mission requiring hours of preparation and strategic planning.
Tampa resident Penny Carnathan has a large extended family that’s made Black Friday shopping a holiday tradition.
“My family has been door-busting for 25 years,” she said.
Carnathan said family members begin perusing Black Friday advertising fliers and online sites days before the big event.
“Ads for Target, Walmart and Toys “R” Us are online now,” she said. “(JC) Penney’s sent out a print mailer with its Black Friday deals and hours.”
She said they don’t simply search for the best bargains; they research the quality of the products ahead of time.
“Do your research, especially regarding tech items,” she said. “A super-slow computer or a TV with a bad picture is not a bargain at any price.”
What’s the main strategy for the Carnathan family?
“Divide and conquer,” Carnathan said. “We head out early and assign a person to each store to shop for the group.”
Valrico resident Ryan Lerch said the Camelizer browser extension or the Chrome extension, CamelCamelCamel, are good tools to investigate the quality of the products. But he uses the Amazon website to compare prices.
“Pull up a product on Amazon and it will tell you the history of its price,” he said. “Now you can see the ‘true’ price of the product whereas before there was little way to tell if the price increased just to appear on sale for Black Friday.”
Plant City resident Karen Lessard Crumley recommends shopping for the most-demanded items first.
“Find the most wished-for gifts online and buy online when you can,” she said. “Then, for the stores, prioritize gifts and plan to drive a route based on the items that might sell out first.”
Karen Brantner Taylor of Valrico goes one step further. She researches where the items she wants are located in the store before she arrives.
“You can print out Walmart’s Black Friday map from their website so you know exactly where to go,” she said. “If there is something you want at Walmart but there is also something at another store you want, bring the other store’s ad because Walmart price matches.”
Contrary to the strategy of many Black Friday shopping fanatics, Tampa resident Beth Gaddis said she never waits in line for a store to open.
“Go at 9 a.m.,” she said. “The first rush is over and the shelves are usually restocked.”
Tampa resident Vickie Chachere, on the other hand, recommends avoiding crowded malls and big-box stores. She focuses on finding deals at local small businesses or unique online retailers.
“Maybe look for an email from a specialty online retailer with a fantastic deal and then go for a fun outing in nature,” she said.
But for those who enjoy the Black Friday hustle and bustle, Valrico resident Goo Mackiewitz says shopping with a friend or family member makes the undertaking easier.
“Always go with a buddy who stands in the long checkout line while you go get the items,” she said. “Then meet back up to check out. You do this because the checkout lines usually take longer than finding your items and shopping in the store.”
Carnathan, however, said waiting in long lines can be an opportunity to make a new friend.
“I’ve met the nicest people standing in line at 5 a.m.,” she said. “My mom and I have even teamed up with folks we met in line: ‘You grab four of this, we’ll grab two of that, meet you at the checkout.’ It can really be fun socially.”
Beware, however, said Maria Dougherty-De Vivo of Lithia. While most people are nice, there are still plenty of Grinches out on Black Friday.
“Never leave your shopping cart unattended,” she said. “People have no shame and will take items out of your cart.”
On the other end of the spectrum are those who prefer to avoid the Black Friday frenzy altogether.
“I don’t Black Friday at all,” Jennefier Jones Patterson of Tampa said. “I’d rather pay retail than fight over an item at the mall or big box store or spend tons of time in a line when I could be out doing something fun with my family. I know some people love it, but it’s just not for me.”
Valrico resident Julie Lowe agrees.
“Stay at home in your jammies with a big cup of coffee and shop online,” she said.
But Lithia resident Paola Olivares said online shopping isn’t for her no matter how good the deal.
“Online shopping is too impersonal,” she said. “No lights, no music, no people, not for me.”
She said her family looks forward to the Black Friday shopping tradition.
“We always buy the newspaper on Thanksgiving Day and, after we eat, we each get a flier and circle the items we want to get,” she said. “We prioritize and each of us gets assigned to a different store. We call each other to check in. Nothing beats Black Friday shopping, not only for the deals but it gets you in the holiday spirit of giving.”
Image via Pixabay
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