Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday...Another Year of Chaos, Another Year of Bargains!

Well, Thanksgiving has been and gone already. I hate when that happens. One minute, it's Wednesday evening, I'm heading to my parents after having left work early and the next, it's Sunday evening, the turkey's all gone and it's back to normal tomorrow.

I did have a good Thanksgiving though. As always, it was a nice calm day where my mum and I worked together to get everything prepped and ready for the meal. Then people started showing up, the food started being ready and chaos ensued. It's always getting the food from stove to table that seems to be the hardest part of a large meal.

However, it all turned out fine in the end. It was a delicious meal, I got to see almost my entire family- my poor sister had to work- and find out some ideas of what gifts I wanted to shop for on Black Friday.

Black Friday, of course, is definitely part of my Thanksgiving traditions. This year, due the annoying schedule of the stores, my sister and I did things a little differently. We did make it to Walmart at 10 p.m. Well, actually, we got there around 10:40 p.m. since my sister had to work until 10:30 p.m. Amazingly enough, my sister got everything on her list- quite a surprise considering we weren't there for the mad rush of the beginning of the sale.

Though Walmart was much busier than normal and the aisle with the electronics that were to go on sale at midnight was already a scary, scary place with people waiting, the rest of the shopping experience wasn't too bad. The trick is to know where to look for items. Sure, Walmart puts the specials in the middle of the aisles and provides a map but they don't go to the actual shelves and remove those items. Thus, though the salespeople said they were out of the Leapfrog Tag system my sister wanted for my niece, we merely went to the shelf, found the same item sitting there, price checked it to make sure it rang up at the Black Friday price and moved on. It was a little too easy, actually. I didn't buy anything at all. The only thing I wanted was a wireless media player for my TV but since that was part of the midnight sale, I wasn't about to stick around.

Besides, we had to be up and at 'em early the next day. We were up and out by 5 a.m. Our first major sale started at 6 a.m. at Menards. We were part of a line that wrapped around the building. However, in previous years, due to Walmart's 4 a.m. sale, we've never quite made the opening of Menards and always got there late. This year, we actually got there as the doors opened AND we secured a basket. Never before, in the history of our Black Friday shopping have we secured a basket in which to put our stuff.

Unfortunately, the basket soon became full and also, my sister decided she wanted to purchase a rather nice spa box for my sister-in-law that appeared to be on sale for less than $10. It was about 24 inches by 24 inches and weight about 6 pounds. Due to the fact that my sister is pregnant and I'm a little overprotective, I gave her the lighter basket to carry and the spa set became my carrying vessel on which we piled stuff that wouldn't fit in the basket. We were almost 100% successful at Menards. I purchased two rather nice 1.5 quart crockpots for $2.97 each! Now THAT is a bargain for me. I'm not greedy enough I wanted both- I got one for my mum. I also got dog toys, slipper socks and various other useful items. While some of them were for gifts, I also find Black Friday to be an excellent way to get items that I actually need/want at bargain prices. I only buy things I don't ask for as gifts, by the way.

However, even with the triumph of finding everything on our lists giving us energy, by the time we got to the checkout, my forearms were rather tired from holding the spa box and all of its cargo around the store. Also, Menards was a madhouse- people WILL fight to the death for a $3 Snuggie. (I don't buy Snuggies, for the record). THey also fight for $1.49 fleece blankets. I did join the fray for one of those. The girls and I like to snuggle on cold winter nights and last year's bargain could easily be replaced.

By the time we were next in line to checkout, I had jelly arms. Finally, success! My sister and I seperated our buyings so that she could pay first. I was not unhappy to release the spa box. Unfortunately, when it rang up, it was $29.99, not the $7.50 it was labeled on the shelf. We did think it was an awfully good deal but it also was Black Friday. There turned out to be no rebate and suddenly, $29.99 did not seem like a deal so my sister asked the cashier to take it off her receipt. I didn't blame her but it would have been helpful to know that I hadn't had to carry that rather heavy item around the entire store for 30 minutes.

Ah well, we moved on to Target which had started its sale at 10 p.m. the night before. Surprisingly enough, with the exception of one board game, my sister also go everything on her list. We moved on. Since there was a different Walmart there, we stopped in so I could see if they had my wireless media player. Lo and behold, they did. In fact, aside from the $2.99 chopper and $9 griddle that eluded us last year also, Walmart also appeared to have almost everything from their ad except for the HDMI cable which I needed for the media player.

After Walmart, we went to the local mall and managed to get several gifts checked off our list. By this time, it was 10 a.m. and the insanity of the die-hard, early morning shoppiers had died down.

We ended our day with a tasty lunch and headed home. It was a very successful Black Friday. I even ended up getting my $10 HDMI cable- I wanted to look at Christmas trees so my parents and I headed back up to their local Walmart after I'd had a bit of a break. Lo and behold, they had lots of the $10 cables which the other Walmart did not have.

The moral of this Black Friday tale is that while it's sort of fun to join in the chaos of being one of the early morning shoppers, it's not always necessary to score a deal. Just like we weren't the first customers at Walmart the night before but still managed to get a Wii for $99 (my sister's purchase), we managed to get everything on our lists at almost every store without being there at the opening. Menards was the exception. That's the one store that has such good bargains that you do have to be there as early as possible. People tend to really go for the $2.97 crockpots, $1.99 unstuffed dog toys, 99 cent furry slipper socks, $1.49 fleece blankets and, of course, $3 Snuggies.

When all was said and done, my sister and I finished another Black Friday successfull. I am further ahead in my shopping than ever, have ideas for gifts and am well on my way to being ahead of the Christmas shopping game. While I love Thanksgiving with my family, eating yummy turkey and cooking the meal, I also love Black Friday. It's a tradition between my sister and I and I enjoy the lunacy of being up, awake and shopping at 5 a.m.

It ended up being a good weekend. However, like all good weekends, its followed by a return to work tomorrow. Since I like my job, I'm not dreading it. I do wish I had another day but, well, that would be greedy. Now it's time to relax with the pups, review my Christmas shopping, check out Cyber Monday deals and settle in for the night.

There could be far worse way to end a weekend!

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