How to survive in 10 easy steps

It’s the fourth week of November, a seven-day period defined by a marathon of food, family, friends … and the looming specter of Black Friday. It’s that one day a year where people go out of control and cast civility to the wind to get that one must-have item at that shockingly low price.

There are many reasons that people participate in Black Friday shopping. For some people it is just the draw of that amazing deal. For others it’s the adrenaline rush. Some go as part of a family tradition. Still others are stuck working the long shifts dealing with all these crazy people.
It is true that this is the time to get the best deal on those big-ticket items, but the crowds can be a bit overwhelming. So, whether you are a seasoned pro or a curious first-timer, here are nine tips to help you get in, get what you want and get out alive.

1 Plan ahead
Look through all the ads the day before. Know what you want and which store has the best deal. Be aware of what time each store is opening and how late their doorbuster sales go. Not all stores open at the same time, so if you plan with this fact in mind, you will have time to hit a couple of openings.
Also look to see if any of the stores are giving away any good freebees. Sometimes you can get gift cards, extra savings cards or other random trinkets.

2 Identify the one item you absolutely must have
Big-ticket items go fast. It’s a safe bet that you will only be able to pick up one of these items in the rush of people, so prioritize.


3 Go in a group
The more people you have, the more products you’ll be able to get. This is also useful if you want things from different stores. You can get everything each of you want from one store, while the other person can do the same in another store.

4 Get there early
Sitting in the freezing cold at 4 in the morning after only a couple hours of sleep isn’t the most fun thing you could be doing during a day off from school, but get in line early anyway. It’s worth that hour of sleep you lost to be near the front and improve your chances of getting the item you want.

5 Be prepared to fight the weather
Most stores will have you wait outside until they open. Come prepared with big coats, gloves, hats and blankets.

6 Know where in the store the product is located
This is very important. You don’t want to be stuck running around searching with the rush of people. Each store does it differently. Some will have the product in stacks in its corresponding department; others will just throw them down in any open spot. See if a store has a printed map for the event or ask an employee before the doors open.

7 Don’t use a shopping cart if you don’t have to
It seems like there is always a jam of people and their shopping carts in the aisles. If you can carry your items with little problem, do it. This allows you to squeeze though crowds and side aisles that you wouldn’t be able to with a cart.

8 Take ads from other stores with you
Nowadays many stores will price match on products if you have the ad with you. However, don’t count on this for the doorbuster sales. Some stores will pull the products featured in other ads during the sale hours. This technique works best if both stores are featuring the same doorbuster or if you just want some little items (such as movies, small toys, ect.) and don’t want to go to more stores than you absolutely have to.

9 Make friends with those around you
This one can go one of two ways. This can make it so that these people are a little bit more civil when it comes time for the rush. However, don’t be surprised if all bonds that have been built will be thrown out the window as your queue compatriots try to trample you on their way in the front door.

10 After the rush dies down, look around
This is another reason going in a group is a good idea. While one person is waiting in line to check out, the other can wander through the store. A lot of times people decide they really don’t need 10 iPod docks and they will stash the extras in random places. Many times you can find the things that you thought you’d missed out on this way.