Have you ever shopped in the US for Black Friday?
Been there, done that. Black Friday, the GIANT shopping day after thanksgiving, is nothing short of shopping insanity. It's like Boxing Day shopping in Canada, but on steroids. My two Black Friday shopping experiences were both bewildering and bountiful. Two years ago in San Francisco, I just gave up. I couldn't handle the crowds, and I wasn't sure what I was looking for. On a more positive note, 4 years ago, I had a surprisingly fruitful experience in Miami. Both my husband and I still wear the items we purchased on that fateful shopping trip. Despite the crowds, we came and conquered!
If you're planning on braving the crowds for an immersive and cultural US experience, here are a few tips for Canadians willing to step into the shopping jungle across the line.
Black Friday Dos & Don'ts
- Get your research on! Prioritize stores based on deals and the timing of their sales. There's an app for that, check out Black Friday App.
- Leave the night before and stay in a hotel, so you're ready to hit the ground running.....early.
- some stores---gasp---are even opening on Thanksgiving Day.
- stores usually open on Black Friday at re-donc-u-lous hours like 3 - 5am, so check the times of the ones you're into.
- an unofficial list of Black Friday hours for major US retailers
- by the way, if you don't have a hotel yet and you're driving down to Seattle from Vancouver, the Westin Bellevue still has rooms available with its shopping package: $200 per night, and you get $100 back per night in gift certificates to any store in the Bellevue (collection) shopping area.
- Know what you're looking for, without a purpose, you won't last long.
- Line-ups are insane, so bring water, a snack and some advil:) You might even want to schedule a post-shopping massage. Just saying.
- Online is your friend. Some sales start at 12am on Friday, so you may not even need to leave the comfort of your own home. Also, don't forget about Cyber Monday, the day after the US Thanksgiving Weekend when leftover inventory goes on super sale.
- Embrace boutique-y, smaller stores in addition to the inevitable large retailer gulch. Smaller stores will still offer savings!
- Don't forget about parking lot madness, again, get there early, OR, take public transport.
PS - I'm going to brave Black Friday this year. The bonus? I'm going to do so in a place without tax: Portland! We'll see how that goes...
[photo by Kevin Spencer, altered with a heat map]