I do it because I love to save money. I do it because I'm not reliant on having to do it. I do it, now, because it's a tradition that Sam and I have started and kept going for years, even if last year we weren't able to go together - we still went, separately. It's fun. And I don't particularly like crowds. I just really enjoy checking things off my list at maximum savings.
This year, we started our escapades at Toys-R-Us. I continue to be impressed with how they run their operation. You have to wait in line outside because they only allow 100 shoppers in the store at once. Then, once they've checked a good many of those folks out, they let more in. You spend all of your waiting time in the cool, refreshing outdoor air watching the folks who just made purchases try to fit gigantic Power Wheels boxes into the trunk of their Honda Accord (they don't fit). I applaud this method.
Because after Toys-R-Us (where we got everything on our list, including one pink Leapster for Abby at $25 that I was positive would be sold out by the time we got there), we crossed the parking lot to get to Kohls. I know all of these store are ginormous and can hold every single person waiting in line to get in without violating fire codes, but they really don't need to do it that way. The throttle-back method would work well here as well. You can walk straight in, grab your items, and then spend your time waiting in line to check out. Apparently, Kohls felt that they needed to crank the heat to 100 as well, so it makes waiting in the sweltering heat (and shopping for sweaters) completely intolerable. Our major score here was a bedding set (paid $39.99, priced at $119.99 - plus an additional 15% off) for the top bunk to match the one I bought last year for the will-be bottom bunk.
Target has the same, let-'em-in-and-let-'em-wait-in-line philosophy. At least it wasn't 1000 degrees in there. They do not seem to have a large amount of "doorbusters" available. So if you don't go there first, you likely won't get the $7 jammie sets (for example), but Target is Target. It beats Walmart on its worst day. (Am I right?)
After these stores we went home - to grab a nap for an hour or so before we got up and went to Staples, where we'd have the most success of our shopping adventures. The major scores there were a color laser printer (50% off) and a shredder ($19.99 down from $99.99). Both of these items (a printer and a shredder) were things that we've lived without for the past several months with anticipation of scoring one for cheap on Black Friday. I'm glad we waited!
The rest of our day's escapades took us to Kmart, Sears, Lowes, Dollar General, Sam's Club, and Bass Pro Shops. And Chili's for lunch (yum). We arrived home around 1:45pm, exhausted but happy.
A couple of other random tidbits: Having made lists of items-to-shop-for before we left, we stopped at Kroger to purchase giftcards for each of the stores we shopped at before we went, allowing us to earn 4x the gas points for discounts on future gas purchases.
The only thing we paid full price for the whole day was a mattress that we bought for the top bunk at Sam's Club. It was half the price of any other mattress we could find elsewhere, so I still consider that to be a bargain.
People are crazy on Black Friday. For instance, a random man came up and offered Sam and me $20 when we were at the front of the line to get into Toys-R-Us to go in and buy him some sort of Thomas the Train toy (that wasn't even on sale) so that he wouldn't have to wait in the line. We passed on the opportunity.
During a drop-off at home before we went to lunch, we set up the printer so we could print a coupon for Chili's. That is why I have completely and totally missed having a printer for months! Printable coupons are my friend.
I'm thrilled to report that we could have Christmas tomorrow if we were so inclined and I think that we'd have more than enough for everyone. In a few words, shopping is just about complete! I'm still working on the tabulations for percentages and total amount of money saved. I will be sure to post when I finalize. I don't know how you're going to sleep until I do from the sheer excitement!
Black Friday 2011 = Success for Jennie & Sam