MICHIGAN - And so it began… what once started on the Friday following Thanksgiving, "Black Friday"… is now the evening of Thanksgiving itself! We started our venture at 8:25pm on Thursday November 22, 2012! As we approached the shopping corridor I realized that we might be getting into more then we bargained for. There wasn't a car on the road, only to determine they were all in the parking lot, and surrounding lots of Walmart. People were parking across the four-lane road and running across. Every surrounding business had cars belonging to Walmart customers in their parking lots. It was a sight to be seen!
First stop, Target, which opened at 9:00pm! Parking was intense however we managed to snag the very last stop in a row, while others made their own spots at the end of rows on the "yellow" lines, and jumped curbs to park on grass where found. Once we made our way to the store entrance we were greeted by a line of hundreds before us, braving the cold and rain for the Door Buster Deals! Even young mothers with babies in car seats in tow were among the crowd. The ratio of men to women equal, and young to old the same!
Next stop was The Great Lakes shopping mall, which also opened at 9:00pm. We arrived just after 11:00pm and once again the parking was insane! After driving around for about 20 minutes with no success at securing a spot, we ventured across the back adjoining lot of the Borders Book Store, which was closed, and parked there among others, in a dimly lite, less then desired area, and braved the cold for a fast walk into the mall. Once inside there were masses of people, and lines, lines, lines! Lines for people waiting to get into stores, waiting for key anchor stores to open, and lastly, waiting to check out with all their deals! We were among the line waiting for Neiman Marcus Last Call to open. At 12:00am the gates opened and the rush ran… literally ran in! It was insane… and the hype was all for jeans! That's right, demin! What was already marked down 30% from the discounted "Last Call" pricing was an additional 40% off the entire purchase!
Our biggest success was TJ Maxx! It was easy to maneuver throughout the store, there were ample carts, and the checkout line went fast! At 1:30am we called it a night and went home for a few hours of shuteye!
At 9:19am, after a quick breakfast at Panera Bread, including a much-needed large coffee, we headed out to conquer the true "Black Friday"!
On our route to Novi's Twelve Oaks mall we noticed that all the Big Box stores were less then business as usual. Walmart, Target, Meijer, and Kmart essentially had no unusual traffic. Thus, the Thursday night crowds taking away from the normal Black Friday craze! Our first stop of the day was to JCP at the Green Oak Village Place in Brighton, which opened at 7:00am. Most everything in the store was an additional 30% off. There were a lot of people there, but everything ran very smooth! Since they have registers throughout the store, it was very easy to checkout.
From there it was on to Sams Club in Wixom. Again we were pleasantly surprised by the light traffic. It was easy to park, easy to shop, and easy to check out! They even had assistance waiting near the exit doors to help us load our car up!
Here are some great gift ideas for under $10.00.
Figure 1- Wolfgang Puck stainless steel wine opener $9.98
Figure 2- Wolfgang Puck salt and pepper mills $9.98
Figure 3- Rachel Ray Appetizer caddy 5 pc set $9.91
Figure 4- Aromatique 4 pack scented candles $19.98, great idea for teachers gifts. Comes with individual decorative boxes.
That is pretty much where the "Calm before the storm" ended! Once we reached The Twelve Oaks mall we realized where everyone in the world was. Parking was intimidating! After many times circling the parking lot waiting for a spot to open we finally found a spot! Just as I waited for the spot to clear, and began to reverse into the spot, I saw another car whip around the corner and try to fly into "My" spot! Not taking that for a second I continued my action to take my spot! With the universal sign of the middle finger gestured toward me, and I'm sure some choice words following, the car sped around me! It was my spot dang it!!! Tis' the season!
Nordstrom was our first order of business, and first thing first was to eat lunch! I think we scored in a big way here too! We were just in time to beat the lunch rush at 11:45. We enjoyed a delicious meal of lobster bisque soup and chicken club sandwich. Food was excellent, service was attentive and quick, we were back to shopping affectively in no time!
In conclusion these are my tips for success for Black Thursday/Friday shopping!
· When waiting in line at the box stores dress warm! Coats, hats, gloves.
· Bring an umbrella! We didn't and we wish we had. Being cold is one thing… cold and wet is another!
· Bring a reusable bag or two. Lots of times there are not carts left by the time you get to the front of the line. Also it makes it a lot more comfortable and easy to shop with carrying bags over shoulders then in your hands. We bought these at TJ Maxx for $0.99.
· Hire a driver. Everyone knows a teenager looking to make a couple extra dollars. It's worth paying someone to drive to avoid the parking drama and to have a place to dump your package throughout the day!
· Shop in teams. For safety, especially in the nighttime hours, and to help avoid time in lines!
· Pack a cooler. You will be happy to have a snack and a cold drink at some point in your journey, trust me!
As a black novice Black Friday shopper, I sit here now sipping my warm tea, while wearing my comfy sweat pants in the midst of Cyber Monday. As I'm enjoying the Internet deals and free shipping I ask myself… will I ever do Black Friday again?
By Sarah Starrs