November 28, 2003

Black Friday - we shop more before 8:30 than most people do in an entire day!

Black Friday is becoming an annual tradition for the Watts household. There's just something about waking up three hours before the sun, getting out on a cold, crisp winter morning, and "getting the deal" on tons of great stuff. We have ended up almost completing our Christmas shopping each year... and then some! Here's how it went this year...

pre-Black Friday
Since we were going to visit Pop and Polly, we did the same thing we did last year and spent the night at the Amerisuites in Louisville. This year, however, we booked two nights - Wednesday and Thursday. It worked out very well because we didn't have to repack Thursday morning before heading to Ohio. That Amerisuites location is one of our favorites because it's right in the middle of Louisville's retail hub. I, of course, really like it because CompUSA is within walking distance. We left Nashville at 2:00 and ended up in the CompUSA parking lot about 5:15. There was already a line, but we were about #25. When we got in, all the people ahead of us were headed for computers and we headed for the "Free after Rebate" items. We scored Art Explosion Seasons and Holidays, another software package [title omitted for gift purposes], two packages of HP Premium Photo Paper and the incredibly useful Church Office Pro (just in case we accidentally start a church or something...) I also picked up a USB Flash Drive for $30 after rebate. We were in and out in ten minutes, ahead of most of the people who were buying big ticket items.

Thursday, we spent as much time as possible with Pop and Polly. The only places open that we found ads for were K-Mart and Garden Ridge, and they didn't have anything we couldn't live without.

Black Friday
We awoke at 4:30 a.m. and piled downstairs, ads in hand, bundled from head to toe. At least Lydia was... I neglected to bring a hat and gloves. That made us add a stop at a convenience store on the way. I got a winter cap and work gloves for a total of $2.98 plus tax!

One neat thing about Louisville is that there are several stores clustered together that have good Black Friday sales. Our first stop was the strip shopping center that housed Wal-Mart, Staples, Radio Shack, and Michael's. We had the most items to look for at Wal-Mart, and we knew that would be the mad house. (Have you ever been to a Wal-Mart that wasn't crowded??)

We got in line at Wal-Mart about 5:10. Lydia stayed with the car for about 10 minutes to stay warm, but she was a trooper and came back to the line after a little while. About 5:25, the geniuses at Radio Shack came down the Wal-Mart line with fliers and announced that they'd be opening at 5:30... an hour and a half before the advertised store opening time! Lydia went and was second in a line of about five. There was a lady in front of her who... as soon as it was 5:30, started banging on the front door with her umbrella, yelling that she was ready to get her Barbie phone. Far be it from Lydia to stand between a woman and her Barbie phone! She got...
  • $30 (after rebate) DVD player,
  • a $5 pencil sharpener
  • several other little things [withheld for gift purposes]
    She plopped it all in the trunk and came back to the Wal-Mart line. I went over to Radio Shack and warmed up for a few minutes.

    When Wal-Mart opened, it was kind of pandemonium... people were trying to push carts in and there were just too many people to make it work. To top it off, this was an older non-"Super" Wal-Mart, so it had narrow aisles and overstacked shelves. Our plan was that I would head toward electronics and Lydia would go to small appliances. We had our phones to keep in touch. We started with a cart, but I quickly ditched it and went on foot alone. They had figured out that a $99 television just isn't something you can carry around with you when you're shopping in the store, so they were passing out vouchers that you just took to the register. Then you took the voucher and receipt to a sixteen-wheeler in the parking lot and retrieved your TV. I got my voucher and then dashed back toward small appliances. The sale items were on one of the "showcase" aisles on the far left side of the store near the garden center. I was momentarily taken aback by the ten foot high stacks of coffeemakers, waffle irons and crock pots, and then quickly snagged our list of things...
  • the $99 flat screen television
  • a $5 coffeemaker
  • a $5 crockpot
  • a few more things [withheld for gift purposes]
    We located each other via phone and triangulation ("I'm near the cards...") and dashed for the checkouts. Unlike most visits to Wal-Mart, there were checkers at almost every register. Since we had been so purpose-driven in our shopping, we were checked out by 6:05. Lydia took our items to the car and I went to the truck to get the TV. When we tried to get the TV into our car (my in-laws' Camry,) it wouldn't fit in the trunk, back seat, or front seat, until we took it out of its box and slid it snugly into the back seat. We only lacked an inch from leaving it in its box!

    We didn't go far, because we still needed to hit Staples and Michael's, but the parking lot was almost completely packed! We drove to the far end of the lot and parked again. Lydia walked back to Michael's and I continued down to Staples. Staples still had lots of their door-buster specials, so I picked up...
  • an 80 GB hard drive for $40 after rebate
  • 100 CD-R's for free after rebate
  • three disposable cameras for $.94 each (I know - we only take digital pictures, but these can be used for emergencies, etc.)
    ...and... I payed for part of it with a $40 Discover Card Cashback Rebate bonus!

    Lydia picked up a crossstitch pattern at Michael's and we were off by 6:45 to hit one store at the mall. Lazarus had opened at 6:00, but there weren't any limited quantity items that we were interested in. We headed up to the home store section and picked up...
  • some Spode coasters
  • more little Christmasy things (Lydia got them... so I don't know what they are!)...
    ...and while Lydia was in line, I spotted a 22" griddle, regularly $50, for $19.95! We're gonna have pancakes for Christmas now! It was also interesting to note a common behavior in department stores - everyone seemed bound and determined to purchase their items in the department where they found them, making the home store line pretty long. We took our items over to the china department and were done in minutes.

    By this time, it was 7:20, and we had gotten almost everything we had set out for. I dropped Lydia off at the hotel to eat breakfast and headed to Tuesday Morning to pick up two last gifts. They opened at 8:00 to almost no crowd. I got to the store about 7:45 and was number two in line! Even at opening, there were only a dozen people there. I got the gifts and went back to the hotel, ate breakfast, and then went back up to the room. Oh... almost forgot... I had to stop by CompUSA on the way back just to see if anything was left and... whaddya know... it was! I got
  • 90 more CDRs for $8 (no rebate!) and
  • two travel cables (phone and ethernet) for free after rebate.

    We did run by T.J. Maxx and Organized Living (a Container Store knock-off) to pick up a few more things, but no massive bargains. On the way home, we stopped by our favorite northern-Kentucky restaurant BunBakers.

    We're back in Nashville tonight, the 20" TV is in the guest bedroom, the gifts are tucked away, ready to be wrapped for Christmas, and 13 mail-in rebate forms are completed and ready for the mailman tomorrow! All in all, a fun day.
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