How bad did it get today? I interviewed a few people about their experiences for lack of better things to do while standing in line with my shopping buddy, E. The checkout women at Old Navy, Brittany and Diamond, had been there since 4am (Old Navy opened at 3am). They were told that the lines started around 1am, and when they got there, the lines were already all the way to the back of the store. People were pushing and shoving, and one kid threw up in line. Why people would wake their child up to be at Old Navy at 3am, none of us could figure out. Diamond was also wondering why people were there that early when the same sales were being offered all weekend (no real early bird specials other than the Lego Rockband game to the first 50 customers). Another reporter was the woman who was waiting for my cart as I was checking out at Kohl's - she had been at Walmart at 5am when the early bird deals started. She ended up waiting in line for 2 and a half hours to check out. She got a really cheap HDTV though, so she was stoked.
In the end, I was glad I hadn't gotten up mega early. I got the things I wanted anyway, and a few extras I hadn't planned on. I'm not sure the $3 toaster at Target would have been worth it to me. I've learned my lesson for next year though:
- definitely shop with at least one friend - standing in line for a long time is much more fun that way.
- Do NOT drink coffee before shopping. Having to pee while standing with a gigantic cart full of stuff is not fun unless you have someone to keep a close eye on it for you. Which brings me to...
- Keep a close eye on your cart. I got the last two digital picture frames and you wouldn't believe how many sneaky folks were ready to pounce on them if I turned my back for a second.
- Be polite when attempting to cross through the check out line to get to another part of the store. If people think you are cutting in line, they might take you DOWN.
- Bring coupons. I didn't know there was a Kohl's 15% off coupon out there, which was surprising to me since I usually know where all the coupons are. Kohl's is the one store for which I'm not actually on their mailing list for special deals (ok, there's probably more than one store). I now have a separate gmail account just for stores and special deals. Playskool also has a bunch of printable toy coupons on coupons.com, and there's one for $5 off a Star Wars toy floating around out there. Keep in mind, some items might be excluded from your store coupon use, but the manufacturer's ones should work.
- Use hand sanitizer. Nuf said. Ew.
- I might consider bringing my own stroller next year to use as a cart even though I didn't bring my kid. It was a pain waiting for a cart.
- Remember where you parked. People will stalk you for your spot even if it's out in East Jibib, so walking up and down the parking aisles looking for your car can be annoying when 3 SUVs are following you at a creeping pace.
- Go with a budget in mind and give yourself a few dollars leeway. It is so easy to get carried away and want to buy things for yourself! I'm not saying you shouldn't, but remember the purpose here is to save money. If you blow your budget, you may have some cute stuff, but you won't be saving as much as you'd like.
- Keep the ENDING times in mind - you may not get there at 4am, but keep in mind that certain doorbuster/early bird prices are only good until noon or 1pm. After that, the deals may be gone.
- You can really only go to two to four different stores during the early bird time period, so choose wisely. Remember that you will spend time finding your item, fighting tooth and nail for it, and then waiting in line while attempting to scare off any cutters (no backsies!) - the waiting in line and driving between stores alone could take you an hour.
- Bring water and a snack and keep it in the car. You'll need it!
- Plan your driving route carefully - 15-501 was a mess today at 1pm. Take back roads if you think it will be crowded.
- Have fun! When else do you get to go on this kind of shopping spree and be home in time for leftover turkey and stuffing?