Cliffs Notes: Black Friday

A Quick History Lesson
Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 a.m., or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005.

The day’s name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term started before 1966 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are “in the black”.

For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00, but in the late 2000s, many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Bealls) will open at midnight for the first time. Walmart will open at 10:00 on Thanksgiving night and Toys ‘R’ Us at 9:00. In 2010, Sears was open on Thanksgiving day.

And Now the Fun Part
In the days before the internet, shoppers relied on television commercials and newspaper ads that came out on Thanksgiving to alert them to the “door buster” specials and “one day sales” that took place on Black Friday. Now, with a few clicks of a mouse, shoppers can arm themselves with coupons, sale information and even participate in the madness without leaving their home.

Already, some deals have begun (see Amazon’s week long sale and Walmart’s pre-Black Friday sales). For me though, the real fun is being out among the masses. Just seeing folks running through the mall while carrying armloads of shopping bags gives me joy. The added benefit of picking up a few items on sale is just icing on the cake.

There are a lot of websites the comb the internet and put all of the sales in one place. These are a great resource, especially if you don’t get a local paper delivered to your house that contains the store circulars.

Black Friday News
Black Friday Ads

Black Friday Info
Coupon Sherpa (Contains store opening times)
Top Ten Black Friday Blogs (lists some of these sites plus more)
Ask Men (Lists out the top 10 best Black Friday Deals)

If you’re not Facebook “Friends” with your favorite retailers, now’s the time to “Like” these retailers. More retailers are going social, offering special discount codes to preferred friends on Facebook and Twitter. “It’s a good idea to add your favorite stores to your friend list — at least for the time being,” he says.  Retailers like the Gap are even providing Facebook Credit as rewards to users who sign up for its email newsletter.

Another new trend consumers can take advantage of to make the most of leaving the house Black Friday is the explosion of mobile apps that enhance the shopping experience. Keep your smartphone at the ready on the big day to fact-check any deals before purchasing. The best app for price-scanning: Red Laser. And the best app for mobile coupons: Coupon Sherpa. With the Holiday Gift List app you can track your spending and stick to your budget while FourSquare can help you take advantage of local sales and deals based on location, or even freebie restaurant offers of cheap coffee breaks during your shopping spree.

Compare prices. According to ConsumerAffairs.com, Consumer Reports found an electric percolator “on sale” at Kohl’s stores and Kohls.com for $61.99, a discount from the regular $69.99. But those prices are higher than the $59.99 manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Using a Web search, CR found better deals. The best price was $30.03 plus $8.21 shipping at Sale Stores.

Check reviews on sites such as Cnet and make sure you’re clear on the features of those electronics that you are considering. Black Friday is all about rock-bottom prices on no-name goods (or those that aren’t so familiar). That’s fine if it’s not going to be your primary TV, or if you only need a limited number of features on that Blu-ray player.

Look for coupons. Once you know what items you intend to purchase and the stores offering these products for a great price, see who will sweeten the deal. Department stores such as Macy’s and Kohl’s regularly offer coupons that can take an additional 20% to 30% off sale prices. And many online retailers allow you to stack percentage-off or free shipping coupon codes on top of Black Friday prices, making one seller’s price for that cashmere sweater cheaper in the long run. You can find coupon codes on sites such as Gottadeal.com, eDeals.com, Slickdeals and RetailMeNot.

Good luck and Godspeed! Please eeport back on any incredible deals you may find (or hilarious stories you may experience!)

All I Want for Christmas

Oprah has her list of favorite things. Ellen has 12 days of giveaways. Rachael Ray has her ThanksGIVE-AWAY. And now, I have my own. Don’t be confused, this is not my Christmas wish list – but rather a list of products that I love, some I own, some I have given as gifts. Either way, I am excited to announce my first annual Wish List!

The Little Things Wish List

Dogearred Jewlery
Yes, this is on Oprah’s list too, but I have been a fan of this jewelry, particularly their necklaces for a long time. By sister first introduced me to this wonderful online jewelry box and since that time I have given necklaces as presents to many friends and family members.

Sequin Apparel
I love the holidays because it is the one time of the year where you can dress up like a 5-year-old ballerina and totally get away with it. Here are a few of my choice sparkly pieces.

Amazon Kindle

A few years ago Matt’s parents gave him a Kindle. To be honest, neither of us really wanted a Kindle. At that time, we were in the “I love turning the page” camp. Well needless to say, after reading one book on it I was in love. I quickly adopted the Kindle as my own. Matt is currently reading the Hunger Games on it now and I have a feeling he might become hooked – both with the series and the Kindle. And with their ridiculously low prices it is a great present. I have demo-ed the Kindle Fire at work and I have to say, while it is much smaller than the iPad, it is pretty sick.

 Erin Condren iPhone Case

I love Erin Condren for stationary and cards – I even ordered some holiday labels to attach to presents this year! But I absolutely love the personalized iPhone cases that they added to their product roster this year.

Bubble Wrappd
I absolutely love buying things on Etsy. Supporting the “little guy” always feel so much better than going to big chain stores and the customer service and care that goes into this products is always amazing. The wooden signs that Andrea Chapman creates and adorable and add just the right amount of inspiration and holiday cheer to those little nooks and crannies on your bookshelf of office desk. LOVE these!

Crate and Barrel Holiday Decor

Bone China Snowflake Hurricanes

Decorating for the holidays is one of my most favorite things to do. Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was almost a bigger deal that Thanksgiving. We would often wake up and participate in the madness that is Black Friday – not so much for the sales (although, we usually found some pretty good ones) but more for the experience. Then we would spend the afternoon putting up hundreds of holiday decorates. By the end of the day, our house would be turned into a winter wonderland! Abby and I have tried to carry on this tradition in our own homes, but it will take some time before we build up a bounty of decorations that rivals our mom’s. I try to keep my holiday decorating “classy” – my fake Christmas tree has white lights and all silvery/glitter ornaments. Crate and Barrel has great decorations that you can use year after year that don’t make your house look like the scene Santa’s Village in you your local mall.  I bought these for Matt’s mom last year. They are especially good because you can keep them up all winter long!

Abby’s Recommendation: Custom NikeiD Running Shoes
These are an incredible gift because the shoes can fit any personality. With the ability to select your shoe style, colors and patterns, designing the shoe is just as great as wearing them. Plus you can put your name on them (or anything for that matter) so no pair is alike. With NikeiD gift cards, you can give the gift of creativity and fitness!

 Matt’s Recommendation: Garmin GPS Running Watch

With this watch you can turn a jog in the park into a highly calculated training run. By tracking your distance, time and elevation you are armed with all of the information to improve your running.