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Black Friday Shopping Tips From a Pro

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I don’t typically fight the crowds on Black Friday, but my sister in law Kathi Detweiler is always there when the stores open, snagging deals that make me envious. So I asked her for her best Black Friday shopping tips.

Be prepared: Kathi says she always scopes out the deals before Black Friday. She has already asked her kids and other gift recipients what they want, and she compares that list to the ads to her shopping list. Then she heads out early looking for door buster deals. “Last year, some of the sales started at 4 a.m. so we left the house at 3 a.m.,” she explains.

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Bring a wingman: She usually hits four stores, but never alone. “It’s best if you have a wingman so you can do your shopping while the other person is standing in line. Then you can switch off and stand in line while they are shopping.” She says she typically does her Black Friday shopping in groups of two or three. She also suggests you get someone to chauffeur if possible. “Parking is atrocious,” she warns. If not, one of the crew can park while the others get in to the stores as quickly as possible.

Dress for success: Kathi lives in Michigan where it can be pretty cold at 3 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. But she dresses lightly, and wears comfortable walking shoes. “You don’t want to carry a heavy coat,” she warns, “because your arms may be full.” She also recommends carrying a small purse or pocketbook, and making sure you have a cell phone to keep track of the rest of your shopping crew.

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Don’t get distracted: Keep a thermos of coffee, as well as bottles of water and snacks in the car so you won’t have to take time to find something to eat or drink, she suggests. And stick to the list, Kathi warns. Otherwise it’s really easy to overspend and get “bargains” you don’t need, she says.

Divide and conquer: I asked Kathi whether she shops online, and she said that in the past she’s done all of her Black Friday shopping in stores. But after seeing friends get similar deals online in recent years, she’s decided that this year she will hit the stores while her hubby and son snag the cyber deals.

Double down: One of her favorite places to shop on Black Friday is JCPenney. She’ll buy something at the story before Black Friday, and fill out the survey on the back of her receipt to earn a coupon worth 15% off a future visit. Unlike other stores, which may not discount door buster deals, she says JCPenney allows her to use that 15% coupon on those already discounted sales items.

Share your best Black Friday shopping tips with us!

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