I have shopped Black Friday sales for the last three years in
. Being an electronics junkie, my shopping tends to focus on stores that sell computer stuff. I find that it really helps if you bring someone along with you so that you can split up and grab what you are after in half the time. So, here’s some strategy for anyone desperate to get that perfect gift for their loved ones.
1. The best way to find sales is of course the newspaper. The Asheville-Citizen Times always has flyers in their paper advertising merchandise for the day after Thanksgiving. These flyers are usually in the paper the Sunday before Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving Day.
2. Either arrive the day before or an hour before. Honestly, I have found that if you don’t camp out in front of popular stores, such as Best Buy, starting around 11pm the night before, you don’t have a chance of being near the front of the line. A guy in line two years ago told me he and his son had been camped out since before midnight in front of Best Buy and that his wife and daughter were camped out in front of another store. They had sleeping bags and everything! You however, do not have to camp out all night unless you are certain that you don’t stand a chance of getting an item otherwise. They were after laptops of which they only had a small quantity of. You can land a moderately good place in line, and avoid frostbite, by arriving about an hour before opening.
3. Speaking of frostbite, I suggest many layers if you’re planning on standing outside for any length of time. The temperature in
the last three Black Fridays has been well below freezing, usually in the low 20s. After about twenty minutes in this kind of weather, you’ll be ready to go home if you are not properly dressed. I also suggest bringing coffee. Not only is it early in the morning and so the caffeine will do you good, but it’s also hot and will warm you while you’re waiting in the frigid weather.
4. Best Buy. I always go to Best Buy. Located at
83 South Tunnel Rd.
, this is usually where I start at. Their opening time in 2004 was 6am; however last year it was 5am, which was somehow not advertised. We arrived at 5am expecting to wait in line for an hour to find the doors opening right then. The line was wrapped around to the back of the building. We waited for the line to clear before even attempting to go inside. We thought we had blown it, but everyone was apparently after laptops and we weren’t. I got a portable Western Digital external hard drive with no problem and didn’t even have to wait in line for an hour in the bitter cold. If I remember correctly, I saved about $100 on this purchase between the immediate and mail-in rebates.
5. The great thing about where Best Buy is location, location, location. On one side in the same lot is Barnes and Noble and on the other is Bed, Bath and Beyond. There are a ton of stores around it and I usually hit up Office Max next. Located across the
Swannanoa River Road
, there is also a
right next door, also worth a perusal. Office Max usually opens at 6am on the day after Thanksgiving. I got a great deal at Office Max last year on an internal hard drive. I saved about $50 on this purchase off the regular price.
6. Right up the hill from Office Max is Target, another great store. They also open at 6am on the big day. We got a great Hewlett-Packard printer there last year for $35!
7. At this point you can go one of two directions, you can go back up
South Tunnel Road
and hit up the Asheville Mall, or you can take
River Road east
and hit up the
. Wal-Mart, located at
125 Bleachery Blvd
., is open all night, but their sell doesn’t start until 6am. The good thing about them being open all night is that you don’t have to stand out in the bitter cold. They usually have their merchandise wrapped up in wrapping paper and they unveil what’s beneath when the sell starts. You can ask an associate where certain items are early, but they may not know, or may not be allowed to tell you. Typically, electronic items are right in front of the electronics department in the main aisle that they call action alley. Some of the better things they’ve had in the past have been desktop computers for around $350 and DVD players for $25.
Mall is up the road from Best Buy in the opposite direction as Office Max. Most stores don’t open until later in the morning, like around 8am or so. The exception is usually Sears and JC Penney. They tend to be open at 6am like many other stores. I usually am not looking for anything at the mall so if I go there, I tend to hit it last.
9. There are also stores across the street from the mall, including K-Mart, TJ Maxx, Ross and Books-A-Million. They also open at 6 or 7 am every year. It’s not difficult to reach these stores from the mall either. There are a few exits that have traffic lights at them that have an entrance to these stores as well.
10. So you can see why Best Buy is the place to start. It’s in the middle of everything. And I’ve saved for last the most important tip. Befriend your fellow people in line. They can be a great asset to you when you’re in the store, especially if you’re not competing for the same thing. I’ve had people I’ve befriended in line tell me where things were in the store because they had scoped it out, or handed me something I was looking for once we were in the store. Most people are extremely nice and will totally help you out, especially if you’ve helped pass the freezing hour that you spent outside by chatting with them.
And so there you have it. I had over $350 in rebates on just a handful of items, and so hopefully my experiences will help you save just as much money and make your shopping adventure a pleasant one.
And my extra tip to you. If you’re looking for an easy way out of all the traffic madness and are heading north or west to go home, I suggest avoiding the
. It’s only two lanes and there is so much traffic on it that I would avoid it and not use it to try to get to the interstate. I’d also avoid trying to go toward Oakley down
South Tunnel Road
. That used to be a good way to go, but it isn’t any more. It’s also only two lanes and there is too much traffic on the road on a normal day, much less Black Friday, for the traffic light at the end of the road to handle. The best way out I think, is to go up
South Tunnel Road
, take a left at the end and head down
toward the tunnel and downtown. Don’t even try to get on the interstate near the mall. The intersection is poorly designed and you’ll wait for the light to change six times before you can even get through it.
It used to be a bad idea to go through the tunnel when Wal-Mart was in their old location but now, there is almost nothing up that way and we went through the tunnel last year and had very little problems with traffic. If you want to get on I-240 from the tunnel just turn right onto
. That will take you right over to the highway. Good luck!