Monday, November 24, 2014

Quick Tips for Black Friday Shopping

Image Credit: Magalie L'abbe
Hi there! It's a tradition for me every year since fifth or sixth grade, I believe, to go to the States and do some Black Friday shopping. Since we're crazy Canadians, we usually leave our place at around 8 pm, give or take a bit, and head over there in time for midnight or so and shop for a, uh, few hours.

Since Black Friday is nearly here and I have quite a few years of experience, I thought I'd share with you some tips to help make your shopping experience just a bit better.

Plan ahead

While spontaneity is great and all, Black Friday shopping most of the time is extremely hectic and if you just randomly decide to go on the Thursday morning, you will probably not have enough time to get yourself and your thoughts together in time to have a successful trip.

"Midnight" or not?

Deciding when to go is crucial. As a Canadian, it's not that big of a deal for me to go at kind of unconventional times, but if you're American, you might want to celebrate Thanksgiving and not let capitalism totally ruin your festivities. It's kind of crazy since I'm headed to Destiny USA Mall this year and most of the stores open at 6 pm, which is insane.

Personally, I think that going at midnight (give or take a few hours) is great if you want the excitement of the whole Black Friday shopping experience and snag some great deals before everyone takes your sizes. Some deals only last a few hours as well. It's not so great, however, if you don't like huge crowds of people and get anxious a bit more easily.

Do your research

It's important to figure out what mall you're going to and kind of map out which stores you need to stop by. If you're Christmas shopping, make a list of all the people you need to buy for and what you're thinking of buying them (if you have any idea, if not, check out this girl's gift guide right here) to be able to make a super detailed plan for your trip.

Obviously, it would be difficult to figure out in what order to hit the shops because chances are, you'll have trouble finding parking and there might be stores that you need to stop by closer to whatever entrance you take than the ones you'd previously intended to go to.

It's also a good idea to sign up for emails from any stores that you're looking to go to. Yes, they can just completely overwhelm your inbox, but set up a different account so that the promo emails don't have to get mixed in with your more personal emails. Brands will typically send you some early news of deals that might be going on on Black Friday and you can also print coupons if you need to.

Once you have your list and a general idea of your purpose, take a look at the products the stores have in right now to get a feel for what you'll be dealing with.

Recruit your team and plan your route (amongst other transport-related things)

I shop alone quite often, but Black Friday isn't necessarily the best time to do that. It's just a lot easier to deal with a crowd with a buddy to help you through it. Find someone (or many someones) to go with you on your shopping spree who is willing to go with you. It's one thing to drag someone along on a regular shopping trip, and another to bring them with you on Black Friday. You might've succeeded in getting them to the mall, but it's a totally different environment that's pretty fast-paced, so if your people aren't up for it, you won't get much success from the trip.

If you're driving to the States, there's lots to prepare for. First off, bring extra chargers for everything. You never know when something important, like a GPS, for example, will run out of battery and leave you stranded somewhere you're not entirely familiar with. While Google Maps might not be your most reliable thing, be sure to print out a copy of directions from there as well just in case.

Last, but not least, don't forget to bring your passport with you. The last thing that you want happening is for you to get to the border and when the customs officer asks you for your papers and you realise that you forgot your passport on your desk at home.

Wear comfy clothes

Black Friday is not the time to try out a new pair of boots you just got over the weekend. Comfort is key when you're rushing from store to store and hurriedly stripping down in fitting rooms. Leggings (or jeggings if you're going to an outlet mall), a sweatshirt, and no-fuss boots are great for this. If you're shopping outdoors at an outlet, be sure to bring some mitts, a scarf, and a hat along because you never know which stores might have lines to get in and you don't want to be standing outside in the cold for ages.

Pack light

Carrying your massive go-to bag that you use everyday is not a good idea for such shopping days. A crossbody would be ideal and try not to pack too much because let's face it - you won't have that much downtime to rummage through your bag and play with whatever you've got in there anyway. Just try not to pick a bag that's too small that you can't easily shove a (small) water bottle and easily access your wallet.

Are you going Black Friday shopping this year? Have you ever been at midnight? When do you typically start your holiday shopping? Leave your comments and thoughts below and I'd be more happy to read them!

Thank you so much for reading!
- J

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