It's Mama A, back from an exciting adventure in Retail Land, ready to share some tips and pointers that will have you thinking about "Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls."
I'm sure some of you are thinking--oh, I already know how to survive--just don't go! But the truth is, if you really think about what you are doing, there are some ways to save some major money for gifts. And in these economic times, if Mama A can save literally hundreds of dollars for items, then by all means, Mama A's going to at least try.
Who doesn't like to look at their sales receipt and see triple digit numbers next to "Your Savings Today"?
Mama A has compiled a list of pointers and observations in order to help you plan your next shopping adventure during this retail season of exploitation.
1. Most of the people shopping are mamas and daddies just trying to find something for their kids. If you take a step back and recognize that most people are just like you--trying to buy something, not willing (or able) to spend a ton of money, and really want to get things done and head home. Yes, it is insanely crowded, but keep in mind that most of the people are perfectly nice individuals who happen to be out at the exact same time you are.
But. . .
2. There are some crazies out there. And my mama (Mama B), always advised me to watch out for the crazies. These are the individuals that give Black Friday (or holiday shopping in general) a bad name. These are the people who run and shove and steal things out of people's carts in order to have a $5.00 Barbie for their precious (which I always envision their children to be like those nasty, rude, overweight, and overdressed children like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because their Mama Crazy has never, ever, ever told them, "no").
These people are not be messed with.
They can smell fear and amateur a mile away and they aren't afraid to bully their way into a crowded area.
They also say crazy things to people they don't know like, "That lady is the first one out of the store with a 42" tv. She better watch out because I'm going to take it right out of her cart." And there isn't a hint of smile or teasing on their faces. They are serious.
And when Crazies say crazy things like that: RUN AWAY!
3. Keep your "must haves" to a minimum. When headed out for Black Friday, you only need to look for the things that are on special buy. This is NOT the time to pick up some soap at Target--I don't care if they come in a special holiday bottle. Soap is not worth losing sleep over. However, if you can get a big ticket item like an iPod or a gaming system for a largely discounted price, yes, it is totally worth the wait in a line.
4. Have a partner. If you can have someone out there with you, it makes things so much easier. You will need someone to bounce deals off of, someone to show your savings to, and someone who can stand in line with your ticket for your big ticket item so you can run and shop for something else at the other end of the store. It helps so much for you to divide and conquer your lists--one person hits electronics and heads to toys. And, it's so good to be with someone for so many reasons--safety, entertainment, and the ability to laugh at the other crazies with a normal person.
5. Dress comfortably, but dress appropriately. This is NOT the time for heels ladies. You are going to be standing in lines, you are going to be waiting outside, and you are going to be walking at a pace that will not get you trampled.
And, as a side note, I appreciate the warmth from a good pair of Uggs like anyone else, but my goodness, if you pair them with a skirt you have completely negated the warmth.
And we all know your tan ain't real. NO ONE is that brown in November.
6. Be flexible. Sometimes your item may no longer be in stock, or the crowds may be too much, or you need a back up plan. You need to be ready to decide if your item is worth a 15 minute drive to the neighboring town's Walmart or Target. Sometimes the drive makes up for hours of waiting time. The last two Thanksgivings, my shopping partners and I have decided to forgo the larger towns and head to the farther away and smaller towns' retail stores. The crowds were smaller, the lines were tolerable, and we were done hours before everyone else--with everything crossed off of our lists. Now, Mama A is not going to tell you which towns we went to because that is a secret. But, if you have an option between small town and large city, always, always, always head to small town first for must haves and then go to the larger city for the less desired items.
7. Caffeinate. Make sure you get some coffee or something that is going to give you some energy. Your body is not used to moving around at such late hours for extended periods of time.
Well, it shouldn't be.
If you're 30+ years old and still headed out to Greenville downtown with your buddies on a weekly basis, shame on you. You are one of those creepers that we used to talk about when we were 18.
8. Leave your 3-year-old at home. Really? Really?? You can't find a sitter? Your child is used to being up at 1am? It's ok for them to stand in line with you outside in the freezing cold for HOURS? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MINDS???? There is no need for that insanity--just stay home and order your stuff online!
9. Have fun. When the crowds get hectic, when you get tired, when you are surrounded by crazies, try to get a laugh out of it. You will see some crazy things, you will see some great deals, and you will see some ridiculous people. Laugh with your friends, shop, and make it a great morning. It will be something you'll talk about later.
And there you have it folks, some tips and pointers from Mama A who loves you. I hope you all have a safe and merry shopping season! And I will leave you with this little gift:
Mama A is such a giver.
Love and smooches,
*Special prize to the person who can correctly identify the person quoted in this post. I'm talking first and last names here folks, first and last names!!!