Black Friday shoppers offer tips for a successful experience

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Black Friday is as much about waiting in line as it is about shopping. To get the best deals, shoppers show up at stores early and wait in line for hours.
Last year, shoppers waited in line in the middle of the night in 34-degree weather. This year, the forecast calls for an overnight low of 36 degrees and thunderstorms.
The Daily Journal interviewed some of last year’s Black Friday shoppers and got their advice about how they made it through the night. For some of the shoppers, it was the first time they participated in the annual shopping extravaganza.
Others were retail veterans who were regular fixtures at Tupelo’s Black Friday.
The shoppers had done their research in advance. They knew when stores opened, which stores had the best price for an item and which stores they could hit when they were done with their current stop.
For example, many of the Toys R Us shoppers last year went to Old Navy for its 3 a.m. opening when they wrapped up at Toys R Us. Then, they got in line for stores at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
Whether they were newbies or experienced shoppers, they all said their best advice is to dress for the weather. If it is cold, make sure to bundle up. When you are waiting in line and not moving, you will get colder than if you are moving.
Many shoppers had hats, scarves, mittens, thick jackets and even ski masks. Another popular technique was taking a sleeping bag and either standing inside of it or unzipping it and wrapping it around your shoulders.
This year, based on the forecast, an umbrella and a raincoat would be good additions to cold weather gear.
Donna Griffin, Lennie Patterson and Florine Nails camped out at Best Buy last year. They said it’s important to go Black Friday shopping with a team or a group. With several people in the group, they said, some can hold the spot in line while another makes a coffee or bathroom run.
Other shoppers had coolers and thermoses in line. They had packed snacks and extra coffee or hot chocolate. They even had extra supplies in their vehicles.
If you are planning for a long wait, like Sidney Moak and Dennis Moak, who waited at Best Buy for almost 17 hours, take supplies so you will be comfortable and have something to do.
Take a chair, pillow, laptop, flashlight, book, handheld video games, mp3 player and a cell phone with a charged battery.
Some of the more experienced Black Friday shoppers had small pop-up tents where they were able to escape the wind for part of their wait.
If you show up at the store with extra amenities, such as chairs and a tent, pack them up and put them in your vehicle about an hour before the store opens so they won’t be in the way for other shoppers.
Store managers also advised shoppers last year that they shouldn’t panic in stores. Maintain a good attitude and it will make the experience better for everyone, they said.
“If you get there early enough and pace yourself, you won’t have to run people over,” said James Simmons, who was the store manager at GameStop last year.
Other managers advised shoppers that once they are in the store, they need to head for their most-wanted item to make sure they get it. And if they pass another special in the store they want, grab it then.
Many Black Friday deals are in limited quantities and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. The bargain item might not be there by the time they get across the store and return.
And whatever you do, don’t leave your cart unattended in the store, they said. If you do, you are running the risk of other shoppers getting your selected items or the employees reshelving what they think is abandoned merchandise.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Advice from 2009 Black Friday shoppers and store managers
• Do your research. Know which stores you want to go to on Black Friday.
• Get to stores early. Plan to wait in line for at least an hour.
• Get some sleep before you wait in line.
• Eat before you go and pack snacks.
• Make sure your cell phone battery is fully charged.
• Leave your kids at home with family or a babysitter.
• Dress appropriately for the weather. Wear comfortable shoes.
• Go in groups.
• Take a chair, flashlight and activities to do.
• Maintain a good attitude.
• Once in the store, head for your must-have bargain. Split up if you are in a group.
• Don’t leave your buggy unattended during the Black Friday rush.
• Be patient at the registers. Pay with a debit or credit card to speed the process.

2010 Black Friday opening hours for Tupelo stores
Thanksgiving Day
6 a.m. to noon – Sears
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Old Navy
10 p.m. – Toys R Us
Midnight – Old Navy, all Walmart departments except electronics

Black Friday
3 a.m. – Kohl’s, Scruggs Farm Lawn and Garden, Aeropostale
4 a.m. – J.C. Penney, Belk, Sears
5 a.m. – Best Buy, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart electronics department, Fred’s, Shoe Carnival, Sam’s, GameStop, Bed Bath & Beyond, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble
5:30 a.m. – RadioShack
6 a.m. – Ashley Furniture HomeStore, The Mall at Barnes Crossing, Ulta, Staples, Marvin’s, Rack Room Shoes, Gap, Reed’s Jewelers, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tractor Supply Co.
7 a.m. – OfficeMax, Big Lots, Peebles, LifeWay Christian Store
8 a.m. – Main Attraction, MLM Clothiers, Ladybug’s Children & Maternity, Yellow Lovebirds, Monogram It
9 a.m. – Beauty Motif, Walgreens, Voe’s Boutique, Reed’s, Luxe Boutique
9:30 a.m. – Kirksey Brothers Furniture
10 a.m. – Lane Home Furnishings, Caron Gallery
10:30 a.m. – Swirlz

* The Mall at Barnes Crossing opens at 6 a.m. Many individual stores will open earlier. Santa will be available for pictures starting at 9 a.m.

Click here for more Black Friday and Business news with Dennis Seid and Carlie Kollath at the Biz Buzz blog.