STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - Millions of Americans dive into the madness of Black Friday each year, but how many married couples head out to the stores together?
There are probably more than a few, and we found a Sterling Heights couple willing to share the secrets of their success. Those secrets include a Thanksgiving sleep over and a plan to "divide and conquer" on Black Friday.
Mark and Jolyn Felten have been shopping together on Black Friday for about 13 years. They're serious about their shopping tradition.
"We actually get a babysitter to spend the night at our house, so she doesn't have to wake up early and the kids don't have to wake up early," said Jolyn Felten. "They all sleep. Sometimes they're still sleeping when we get back."
This loving dynamic duo started teaming up many years ago. "She didn't want to go out that early in the morning by herself, and I didn't want her to either," said Mark Felten.
Luckily, you can see the mutual respect between these two, which probably makes shopping together on the wildest shopping day of the year a little easier. "He's a very smart shopper and a very patient man," said Jolyn of her husband.
Practicing patience, planning is key
And, we all know patience is a virtue when you're battling those Black Friday crowds. The Feltens say there's another key ingredient to making a combined shopping trip successful.
"If you're going to go shopping as a couple, go with a plan," said Jolyn Felten who knows something about bargain hunting. She runs the website bargainstobounty.com. "Make sure you've thought about where you want to go first, where you want to go next, it's not really a time to be browsing around leisurely."
The other trick this couple likes to use is the "divide and conquer" strategy. They head into a store and one person gets into line right away, without any purchases in hand. The other person starts looking for the bargains.
"Knowing that... if I wait half an hour in line by myself with nothing, we'll be to the front of the line by the time she has what she wanted," said Mark Felten.
"You want to use your time as wisely as you can because time is of the essence on Black Friday," added Jolyn, who also said if they have to wait in line together, it's more fun to wait together.
The couple says they've managed to avoid any serious Black Friday bickering. "There've been a few times where he said 'Oh, I think we are done. There's not really stuff we need, let's call it a day!' and maybe I'd be ok to go another hour. We end early and that's all right," said Jolyn.
Mark has some other tips that make the day a little brighter! He says they always plan to have a nice breakfast when they're done and he certainly seemed to look forward to that reward. Mr. Felten also proved he's as patient as his wife claimed when he pointed out that having a good humor can make things go more smoothly.
"Be the person who smiles at the cashier," Mark suggests. "Be the person who cracks a joke and tell them you appreciate them. It's gotta be hard for them."
The Feltens don't seem to make a big deal of the annual tradition with family and friends, but Mark does get a little ribbing. "I know my brother is like...'You're going out at 6 o'clock in the morning and go where?'"
That question doesn't bother Mark! However, there is a bigger threat to their annual tradition. The Feltens are doing more online shopping and say that could keep them home on Black Friday someday, but not this year.
Jolyn Felten is once again a member of the Local 4 Holiday Shopping Frenzy. She's one of 10 women who are heading into the stores to share deals, discounts, and updates from the front lines. Oh, and Mark will be tagging along.
You can follow them on Twitter at #local4shopping. Join the Holiday Shopping Frenzy!
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