It’s often good to write outside the old comfort zone (shopping) yet using a tone I’m working on (worthy, but not too serious).
If today, for you, is simply hunkering down with family eating your favorite things on the good china and being grateful for all that you already have, then quit reading here.
Because from here on down, you’ll meet the folks for whom the turkey also serves as fuel for a big night to come of deals! And bargains! And big ticket items for the lowest prices ever!
We tracked down some of the Southland’s savviest, most furious super shoppers and twisted their arms about their plans for getting the deals at stores that offer giant discounts in the wee hours.
They’ve learned from the past, honing their all-night shopping skills. They have lists, store layout plans, strategies, help from relatives.
And then they’re off.
Come with us to see the show.
From Midlothian, Bob Klootwyk sets off for his single target store Thanksgiving eve, staying up all night for his wife, Beverly, who catches up closer to the opening bell. They seek a giant flat-screen TV and maybe laptop computers: “We’re just looking for the deals on big ticket items. It has to be big ticket. I will not sit up all night for a $100 item.”
In Frankfort, Karen Zybak hosts a full team of loyal friends and family at her home, where she and husband Don dole out store assignments and dispatch their family of shoppers in the middle of the night. For her, the night of shopping has become a family affair. “I’m one of them crazy people. I’ve been doing this for 29 years before it was called Black Friday. Now because every store is on it, you have to have the game plan.”
In Lansing, Leslie Rissmiller has been picking up deals since last Christmas, stacking coupons on top of sales to get $300 worth of stuff for $100. She blogs about bargains she finds in the South Suburbs at http://oneyeartodisney.blogspot.com. Rissmiller, who cleaned up all this week with a friend near her home, will finish shopping for her little girl at midnight: “I’m only thinking about only doing one store. I really focus on the whole year round. For me Black Friday is great for a couple little things.”
From Mokena, veteran shopper Rich Smith will sit this one out, burned from past attempts in vain to score a big TV by waiting all night in line: “I don’t see the benefit of it. They’re going to have big sales afterwards.
“The last few years, Black Friday hasn’t been the end-all and be-all. It’s been a tease.”
These next 24 hours, for the bravest and sturdiest of Christmas shoppers, are crucial. And if all goes according to plan, here’s what they’ll look like:
By 6 a.m., when her morning paper showed up, Karen Zybak was already wide awake and ready to scan the last of the ads and make her list.
10 a.m. Karen makes two kinds of pies and several casseroles for Thanksgiving dinner. Bob Klootwyk’s double checking his winter gear, making sure it’ll stand an entire night outside.
1 p.m. The Zybaks sit with Karen’s cousin for a long, leisurely dinner.
2 p.m. The Klootwyks sit down to eat with Bob’s brother. They dine early so there’s enough time for Bob to get ready and still arrive first outside the Best Buy.
4 p.m. Leslie Rissmiller sits down to dinner with her husband, 4-year-old daughter Claire, her parents and her in-laws, gives thanks for the doctors who’ve helped her through three bouts of meningitis this year.
5 p.m. Bob Klootwyk and his lawn chair arrive at the Best Buy, bundled against the predicted 18-degree overnight temps. Thoughout the night, his daughters and wife will bring him coffee, snacks, boosts to morale.
10 p.m. Folks start showing up at the Zybak home, stuffed from dinner. Snacks are out, coffee’s on for a lon g night of planning and playing. They compare lists of who wants what from each store, sort the goods by store, make assignments to each of the 12 or so who set out. Meanwhile, one daughter sets out for Toys R Us’s Thanksgiving night sale, then on to Walmart for midnight.
12:01 am: Leslie Rissmiller arrives at Walmart, hones in on $4 pajamas for her daughter. Considers a certain digital camera. Checks out, calls it a night.
2 a.m. Karen heads out to drop her daughter in the line outside Target and hit Kohl’s next door as soon as it opens at 3, trying to score a posh Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
3 a.m. Bob scores his doorbusters outside the Best Buy, two hours before the store officially opens. Rich Smith adjusts his covers in his Mokena home, rolls back over.
4 a.m. Karen and daughter enter Target. One heads to electronics, the other to clothing.
5 a.m. Best Buy opens its doors to Bob and to Karen’s son.
6 a.m. Karen joins the relatives at Menard’s.
9 a.m. The Zybak party heads back to headquarters to divide the spoils and settle up.
10 a.m. Rissmiller sets out to CVS and Walgreens for a few more everyday odds and ends.
And with that, the Christmas season has begun. Only 29 more shopping days left!
Super shoppers agree about a couple of things. To making a killing on Black Friday, you have to follow a few simple rules. And if you choose to ignore them, no deals for you!
*Don’t go it alone. Two hands aren’t enough to really grab things.
*But leave small children at home. If they’re too small to help, they’re only slowing you down. Not to mention, those rugrats take up valuable cart space.
*Plan to shop, shop the plan. Running in blind means you’ll miss the best stuff. And if it’s not written down, how will you remember what you want should you get clocked in the head?
*Show up early. By the time you read this, you’re already too late. That TV is gone!
*Look at store layout plans online ahead of time. You don’t have energy to waste running to the wrong part of the store. Also, you can spread misinformation outside the store.
*Wear comfortable shoes. Even though stilettoes or big boots make for better stomping, your dogs will be barking before you make it to the other end of the store. This is the jungle, people, you’ve got take care of your feet! And without two good ones, you’re as good as dead.
*Don’t forget your coupons. That’s no joke. And organize by store, either with a separate list or by circling the printed ad.
*Skip the whole thing. There’s this thing now called “the Internet.”