Gobble up the Black Friday savings but shop wisely

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving when many of us gather with family and friends and share what we are thankful for—at least I like to think that’s one of the things we should be mindful of as we feast on the numerous dishes prepared. I’m talking about the infamous retail experience known as Black Friday, when scores of people venture out for the shopping marathon—some who even prepare for an all-night escapade to be the first in line to get those store bargains (yes, I’m talking about you shoppers who line the sidewalk outside of Best Buy at 2 a.m.). Why people would put themselves through countless hours of elbow-to-elbow shopping I will never understand.

Yet this isn’t meant to be my rant about people who would put themselves through that experience. I shouldn’t be one to criticize as I’ve done the whole midnight madness shopping trip after Thanksgiving dinner once in my life. And let’s just say that one time was enough for me—suffice to say I didn’t score any mad deals that I couldn’t have gotten that Thanksgiving weekend instead.

This is more of a friendly reminder: be mindful of your neighbor shoppers and remember—we’re all human. Following the rules of common courtesy should not go out the door just because there’s one G.I. Joe toy left on the shelf and a swarm of people moving toward it at the same time [cue shopping scene from 1996 film “Jingle All the Way” when Myron Larabee (played by Sinbad) and Howard Langston (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) battle it out to get the last action figure of “Turbo-Man”]. Chances are if you come home without the toy of your kid’s dreams, sure they may throw a tantrum, something you might have been hoping to avoid this holiday. But I would think a reasonable explanation of the shopping situation and viable back-up solution would also suffice—after all, kids are incredibly resilient and understand more than us adults think they do.

Shopping tips
If you do decide to venture out for the shopping extravaganza this year, here are some tips to aid you through, whether your excursion is an all-night or all-day one or even just a few hours:

• Pack a bottle of water and a snack with you to tide you over. Chances are the crowds of people and heat may take their toll on you when you least expect it.

• If you see someone in line next to you who isn’t doing so well, take notice and lend a helping hand. You never know when the roles may be reversed and buying that item may not seem so important anymore.

• Do your research and shop wisely. According to a Washington Post report, many chain stores are offering more bargains this year than ever before: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/black-friday-2011-chain-stores-opening-earlier-and-offering-deeper-discounts-than-in-the-past/2011/11/23/gIQALgXRoN_story.html. Prepare your shopping list beforehand and know which stores offer the best deals on your wish-list items. Ping those stores first and if there is time and energy left, browse other store shelves towards the end of your shopping excursion.

• Remember to bargain! Many people forget that this is the time when bargaining with retail sales associates will work in some occasions (i.e., in the event of a large purchase), even if it’s a matter of five or 10 percent off the transaction total.

• And if you’re one of the many that do your shopping online over a cup of morning coffee or hot chocolate, make sure the sites you are purchasing from are valid. Shoppers should ensure that a Website is secure and its credentials are up-to-date: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15820758

Natalia Kosk
Security Dealer & Integrator magazine