My adventures in Black Friday shopping

Well, I did it. I shopped Black Friday. In fact I shopped Gray Thursday too, after the kids went to bed. I debated it for weeks, but after doing extensive research, I came across some deals on items I wanted, that needed to be purchased in store. Normally I would rather avoid the craziness and just shop online, but this year it seemed worth it to head out into the chaos.

My primary objective was a virtually free item at Kohls. I have been wanting to give Alan a new electric griddle for months, it just hasn’t been in the budget. We received an amazing griddle as a wedding present, but sadly it wore out a while back. I knew Alan wanted a new one, so that was high on my gift-giving list. I initially found one at JC Penney last month, through a door-buster sale for $19.99. I thought that was a good deal, so I snatched it up. Then I found a better deal, and the first one was returned to the store.

For Black Friday, Kohls offered up a comparable griddle, with even better reviews. Its list price was $39.99, but it was marked down to $19.99. Add to that a $12 mail-in rebate. Add to that a $5 off coupon and a 15% off coupon that could be used in store Thursday or Friday. My final price for Alan’s griddle? Seventy-four cents! I also found two other kitchen appliances we were in need of, on sale at Kohls. With the same coupons and rebates, I was able to get them for $7.50 each. Not too shabby….

So yes, I stood in line in near-freezing temperatures Thursday night. I got to the store about a half hour before it was scheduled to open, the line was already forming. I was probably about the 100th person in line. Over the next half hour, I watched the line grow and grow, wrapping completely around the building and out of sight. Even though it was cold, I was impressed with the mood of my fellow shoppers. We exchanged small talk, everyone eager for sales but polite and in good spirits. It helped to pass the time.

When the doors opened, I quickly but calmly got down to business. I knew if I got stuck waiting in line to check out, I would be there all night. But I had a plan. Earlier in the week, the boys and I visited the store on a reconnaissance mission. I knew exactly where to find exactly what I was looking for. I got in and got out, checked out and was back in my car less than 20 minutes after the store had opened.

I visited a total of six different stores between Thanksgiving night and bedtime Friday, planning my trips around the kids’ sleep and nap schedules so that I wouldn’t have to be away from them for long. I spent a total of approximately $275 on three kitchen appliances, a bicycle for Connor (shhh, it’s a present from Santa!), a helmet, a movie for each of the kids and one for Alan, five pairs of blue jeans, two shirts, two kid pajama sets, two adult pajama bottoms, and a few grocery odds and ends.

The key to my success was careful research and planning. I did not enter any store without knowing exactly what I was looking for, the price I expected to pay, and where to find it. I put lists on my phone and went through them as I shopped, to stay organized. I moved quickly and methodically, so as not to get slowed down by the crowds. Would I shop Black Friday again? Possibly. If I can find as many good deals, if the store openings do not interfere with my family and holiday time (they did not this year, thankfully), and if I have the energy! Because here I am the day after, and I am still exhausted… satisfied, but exhausted.