Features & Editorial

How to Survive Black Friday

Written by Tara Hall

The latest gadgets, toys and electronics at deeply discounted prices?! To some, nothing could be sweeter. To others (self-included), it’s an opportunity to sequester oneself at home with ample leftovers, cable television and a good book. It can get pretty rough-and-tumble out there, and that just scares the bejesus out of me.

For those of you strong enough to brave the shopping elements, there are several thoughtful, efficient tips to keep in mind to get you in and out of there quickly and with all your limbs, your must-have items and *most* of your sanity.

Get your planning on. This is a given, no? Few shoppers head out at 4 a.m. without a clue as to why they’re getting up before dawn. But get organized. Don’t just make a list, but actually plan your shopping route based on different retailers’ locations. And then get more detailed. Plan your route once you’re inside the store.

Take the advertisements with you. Nothing will incite a quicker “Where can I find…?” response than a finger point at an image in the latest flyer. Customer service personnel should be well-versed with Black Friday stock, so don’t think that you can find it faster on your own. Get help, get the item and get to check-out!

Take a large albeit comfortable handbag. Stock up on snacks with provisions like almonds, string cheese or a protein bar, which will tide you over once your stomach gets to growling. This means you can make it to more sales while the average Jane hits the Starbucks’ drive-thru for a “quick” pick-me-up. But yours — cheaper and quicker! Plus you’ll be one of the few shoppers without an attitude, and isn’t that something to be proud of? You can also throw in a bottle of water, coupons, advertisements and that ibuprofen you’ll be needing.

Let technology help you. Those of you with iPhones and Androids can take advantage of a handful of helpful shopping apps, which we’ve outlined in our “Download These Apps” story. And get friendly with the apps before you need them — there’s no learner’s curve on Black Friday.

Pay attention to return policies and price-match guarantees. There’s nothing worse than getting a good deal and realizing you’re stuck with it, even if something goes wrong. Plus, if you stay aware, you just might get an even lower price with many retailers’ price-match guarantee — another good reason to keep those ads in your handbag.

About the author

Tara Hall

For the longest time, Texas transplant Tara Hall wanted to be a profiler when she grew up. A bona fide FBI agent with mad analytic skills who could take on crime and the jacked up minds that commit it.

Instead, the long and winding road has led straight to writing.

It all started with an obscure undergrad study spot: the usually empty upstairs of a local live music dive in Austin, TX. Psychology books in tow, Tara would grab a seat in the balcony and read her assignments between performances of local musicians, ultimately leading to an internship with Austin's Citysearch office in the late '90s.

Skip ahead a little more than a decade to present-day. Tara now spends her time interviewing musicians, researching stories and penning articles for entertainment-centered publications and websites such as Metro.pop magazine and SoundSpike.com.

Best part of the job: Researching topics I'm perplexed by and interested in.

Secretly obsessed with: Eyelash extensions. Instant femininity and loads of compliments!

Current dream vacation: An exotic beach locale with a beach bag full of new fiction. A hot man alongside wouldn't hurt either.

Theme song: Nina Simone's "Feeling Good"

Snacking on: Light rye Wasa crackers, little dollop of Dijon and thinly sliced turkey. That, or a spoonful of Nutella, my semi-healthy chocolate fix.

If trapped on a desert island: Cherry Chapstick and a fun, resourceful companion.