Yes, I woke up this morning at 3:15am. I took a quick shower, got dressed and left my house. In a grand total of 20 minutes flat. Oh so nice to not have to worry about feeding or dressing anyone but myself and only doing one head of hair...
I left my van at my friend Kristi's house and we headed off to our first stop - Kohl's. For the past couple of years, we'd waited in line outside the store before it opened, but since they were opening an hour earlier this year (4am instead of 5am), we decided to get there right after opening.
We walked into the store at 4:15am. Over the next 2 hours, we learned several things about Black Friday shopping.
- There is a very good reason to wait in line before the store opens. Last year and the year before, we were in and out of Kohl's in 45 minutes flat. This year it took us 2 hours, most of which was spent winding through the store, waiting in line. It's also the easiest way to ensure that you get a cart or shopping bag.
- If you don't get a cart or shopping bag right away, hang out by the checkout lanes and hit up the first person you see checking out for their cart or bag.
- A cart or bag IS necessary. This is something I discovered after walking through half the store juggling 6-8 plastic toy packages all of which were very slippery.
- We should have brought food and caffeine with us. Actually, we figured that someone could have made a ton of money by selling coffee and hot chocolate along with something like donuts or popcorn to everyone in line. I think we would've paid just about anything for food and drink after the first oh, 40 minutes or so that we spent winding around the store in line.
- Shopping on Black Friday is much, much more fun with a friend. And there's a practical reason for shopping in a twosome or group. Kristi and I call it 'tag-team' shopping where one person stakes out the place in line and then you take turns standing in line or shopping. This is actually acceptable Black Friday behavior as long as you double-check that the people next to you in line don't mind. Odds are though that they're doing the same thing...
- You really get to know people fairly well after standing in line next to them for an hour and a half. There's really a camaraderie that forms among Black Friday shoppers. The girl ahead of us in line kept talking to her younger brother on the phone and trying to give him directions for how to walk from Toys-R-Us to Kohl's, in the dark. The poor kid made it just as she was finally checking out, after heading in the wrong direction first.
- A toaster oven box is a great thing to pile coats and other assorted items on top of, then you just push the box along the floor with your feet and don't have to stand there and hold any of it. Then, when you pass the toaster oven display near the checkouts, you simply decide not to buy the toaster oven after all and put it back.
- We are not the crazy ones. Anyone who brings small children or babies while Black Friday shopping - they are the crazy ones!!
At Target, we learned that there are Black Friday shoppers who have the Christmas spirit, like the lady who waited along with me for an employee to find more of the $10 indoor/outdoor wireless temperature stations and then after I gave up and joined Kristi in line, brought me one anyway. Or the people who watch your cart and save your space in line so you can quickly run and grab something you just have to have. We saw a few of the other kind of Black Friday shoppers too however - the line jumpers, rude comment makers and shove-you-asiders. Thankfully though, they seemed to be in the minority and most everyone that we encountered were pleasant and laughing with us at the folly of being out so early like this.
At Meijer, I managed to find a Nintendo DS Lite for my sister-in-law (she paid me back) to give to my niece. We learned here that the early bird does often get the worm, as several items that we were hoping to find were completely gone by now.
At Menards, we discovered that there's no point in scoring and saving a place in line if they're sold out of everything that you want at the store - at least everything that's worth waiting in the slooooowwwweeeest moving line that I think we saw all day. Menards as a Black Friday hotspot... Who knew?
At Toys-R-Us, we learned that there wasn't much that we needed, but I managed to find a Strawberry Shortcake dance, dance revolution on sale for $14.99 and then used a $3 off coupon to get it for $11.99. The line here was moving faster than expected, so Kristi actually let several people go ahead in line while she waited for me to learn that they were sold out of the 50% off Kid K'nex. We also learned that it feels really good to make someone else's day by giving them the $5 off a $25 purchase coupon that I wasn't able to use. And we learned that the ice cream cooler right next to the checkout lanes is there for a very good reason. And that ice cream sandwiches hit the spot at 8am when you've been up since 3am.
We knew the mall would be a complete madhouse, but chanced it anyway. We only went to a couple of stores - Children's Place for the extra 20% off (I got slippers for Abby and Hannah and a fleece sleeper for Becca, all for only $15), and the Disney Store for stocking stuffers and sweatshirts. The 15% off coupons that I'd gotten in the mail a couple of weeks ago came in very hand there as we learned that the Disney Store has some pretty good sales on Black Friday.
That was it for us, except for lunch with Kristi's husband and boys. I headed home to find the girls having fun with their 15-year-old cousin who was babysitting. I didn't get a nap like I was hoping, so I am ending this post now, while I'm still (at least) somewhat coherent and heading to bed. I'll have to catch up on e-mail and everyone else's blogs tomorrow, but with company (my friend Mary and her kids) coming, I might not have a lot of time for blogging this weekend. I'll try to squeeze a quick contest round-up in tomorrow if I can too.
Good night all! :)