Pro advice: Stay Black-Friday focused
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, November 22, 2012
11/22/12 at 3:30 AM
Tell us about your shop’s Black Friday plans.
Heidi Ducato has been on both sides of the cash register on Black Friday.
Having worked retail and shopped on the day after Thanksgiving, she's familiar with the annual crush of Christmas consumers - for which she used words like "crazy" and "chaotic."
"You have to know it's going to be that way, and prepare for it to be that way," said the local blogger for StylishStepmom.com, who was also Mrs. Oklahoma International 2010.
Know that some people will be rude, certain items will be out-of-stock, and lines will be long at check-out counters, Ducato said.
She and a couple of other Black Friday shopping experts offered strategies for navigating the tumultuous consumer sea.
When we chatted, Freeman Hall was more excited about "Selfless Saturday: Be Kind to Service Workers Day."
It's his response to the "Black Friday takeover," the California-based blogger and author said during a recent phone interview. His latest book is "Return to the Big Fancy: A Riotous Descent Into the Depths of Customer, Corporate and Coworker Hell" ($22.95, F+W Media) - the follow-up to "Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store."
In case it's not obvious, Hall is not a Black Friday fan.
"Corporations aren't going to give Thanksgiving back. They've stolen it," said Hall, who commented on how Black Friday has gone from a single-day event into a week-long affair that has bled over into Thanksgiving - and, perhaps, blotted it out.
Despite his disdain for Black Friday, Hall shared a lengthy list of tips, the first of which was to know what you want ahead of time. After all, not everything is on sale Friday, so scan the Black Friday sale ads.
Before you even walk out the door, though, take a self-inventory.
"Shop gladiator-style," Hall said. "... You want to move like a warrior, not a fashion model. Leave the handbags and totes at home." You can stash your cash, credit card, ID, cell and keys in your pockets.
And leave "dead weight" behind, Hall said - those uninterested parties (spouses, partners, kids) who might prolong the Black Friday agony. If you can leave them at home, do so.
After making a shopping list, Ducato recommended sticking to a budget. "Figure out what you can spend per item," she said.
You'll be tempted to deviate from your holiday gift list during the Black Friday madness, and that's exactly what retailers are hoping for, warned Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized consumer and money-saving expert. Research store ads to determine where you will find the best deals, Ducato said.
Don't mock the people standing in line so early on Thanksgiving morning, Hall said. "They'll be there to get the $10 computer, and you won't." (No, we don't know anything about a $10 computer - that was just an example.)
Bring in your advertisements if you want to price-match, Hall suggested. Let's say Store A has a printer that's $10 cheaper. If you're already in Store B, show them the coupon and see if they'll honor their competitor's price - but only if you bring the ad.
Beware of the "bait and switch," Ducato said. It's when stores offer amazing savings on one item but try to sell you on a more expensive item - something you might find cheaper elsewhere.
That's when smartphone apps may come in handy, as Hall mentioned some - specifically, Black Friday apps - that will show you what deals you can find at which stores. Or ask the tech-geek - or, let's face it, the average 10-year-old - about apps that scan barcodes, then list stores near you who also have the item and for how much they're selling it.
"Stay Black Friday-focused," Hall said. "Shop the advertised necessities. Things that aren't on sale or the hot items will be there tomorrow."
Make sure you have everything you want before checking out, Hall said. Don't be that person who holds everyone else up behind you by saying, "Oops! I forgot" such-and-such, then run off to retrieve it.
While you're in line, make friends with other shoppers, Hall said.
"Compare notes," he continued. "You might discover some information you didn't know about."
Have all your coupons and payment methods ready, he added. On top of expediting your own experience, it's a courtesy thing for the people behind you and the cashier checking you out.
Use reward cards, Woroch said. If you have a credit card that offers reward points, you can get something back for all the purchases.
"Redeem the points for gift cards to give as gifts, or to use toward the purchase of gifts as a unique money-saving method," she said.
Finally, "be kind," Ducato said. "Remember the reason for the season."
That's what Hall's idea for Selfless Saturday is all about: an event dedicated to honoring and appreciating folks in service-related positions, be they salespeople, food servers and grocery cashiers or call center agents, teachers, flight attendants and car washers - those among the more than 150 million people providing customer service.
"Check your holiday diva at the door," Hall said. "When you lose it, that's when the sales people don't want to help you." They may have coupons in the cash drawer you otherwise wouldn't know about.
"Being kind really can get you more," he said.
Black Friday deals, times
Here's a sampling of stores in the area, when they're opening and some of the deals or events you can expect.
Macy's (open at midnight Thursday): Free high-def headphones with any $75-or-more men's or women's fragrance purchase; $79.99 wool coats for her from Kenneth Cole, Nine West or Nautica; $19.99 Rampage boots; $39.99 1/4-carat diamond hoop earrings; $99.99 Levi's leather jackets for him or her.
Walmart (8 p.m. Thursday): Deals on Apple iPad 2, LCD TVs, Blu-ray players, laptops, toys and DVDs.
Saks Fifth Avenue (8 a.m. Friday): Up to 60 percent off 8 a.m.-noon; 50 percent off noon through weekend.
Target (9 a.m. Friday): $99.99 Nikon L310 digital camera; $349 50-inch Westinghouse LCD HDTV; $7 board games; $39.99 18-piece nonstick Farberware cook set.
J. Spencer Jewelry & Gifts (9 a.m. Friday): Specials 9 a.m.-noon, including limited-edition products from Pandora, Vera Bradley and Kameleon; free fashion earring with any $20 purchase; all scarves $10.
Ralph's Menswear (8 a.m. Friday): All merchandise half-price.
Buckle (midnight Thursday): Extra 10 percent off sale denim and sale crops; extra 15 percent off sale tops, sweaters, outerwear, shoes and accessories; $5-$10 off select women's fragrances.
Charlotte Russe, Tulsa Promenade (midnight Thursday): Door buster deals the first three hours; select denim $15; other select items $5, $10, $15; accessories two for $10.
Rue 21, Tulsa Hills (9 p.m. Thursday) and Tulsa Promenade (midnight Thursday): Buy one get one half off.
Things Remembered, Tulsa Promenade and Woodland Hills (midnight Thursday): Buy one, get one free on select jewelry.
America's Mattress, 7309 S. Memorial Drive (9 a.m. Friday): Beat the Clock Sale, save 40 percent 9-11 a.m., 30 percent 11 a.m.-1 p.m., 20 percent 1-3 p.m., 10 percent 3 p.m.-close; register to win 32-inch flatscreen, no purchase necessary.
Metric Cycles, 4941 E. Admiral Place (9 a.m.): Free helmet with purchase of ATV, go cart and dirt bike, or using layaway.
Tulsa Promenade (midnight Thursday): First 250 shoppers in line will receive goodie bag filled with samples, free gifts, coupons and a $20 Tulsa Promenade mall Visa Gift Card.
Woodland Hills Mall (midnight Thursday): First 100 shoppers to sign up for mobile shopper club will receive $10 Hu Hot Mongolian Grill giftcard; receive a $25 Simon Visa giftcard for every $500 in same-day Black Friday receipts; register to win a $500 Simon Visa giftcard to be drawn Christmas Eve.
Red Hot Designs, 1001 W. Main St., Collinsville (10 a.m. Friday): Men's button shirts by Frankie Max, $25 each; women's shirts by Roar, $10 off; men's shirts by Thomas Dean, $69 each; all formal and bridal gowns, 15 percent off.
Yale Cleaners (8 a.m. Friday): 2 Day Sale, save 50 percent.
Vincent Anthony Jewelers, 10038 S. Sheridan Road and 2601 N. Aspen, Broken Arrow (9 a.m.): Fine jewelry items starting at $9.95 - pearl earrings, $9.95; bridal sets, $1,695.
Sunshine Furniture, 71st and Memorial (9 a.m.): Doorbuster sales - 32-inch HDTV, $199; sofa and love seat combo, $499; all med-lift recliners, 30 percent off.
Glass Slipper (10 a.m.): All classic Toms shoes 25 percent off; free gift with $100 purchase (while supplies last).
Lynette's at the Palazzo (10 a.m.): Select items then, at check out, draw to see what percentage you receive off entire purchase, 10-40 percent (excluding special orders and pre-existing layaways).
JCPenney (6 a.m.): $5 kids' pajama pants or tops; $8 Crock-Pot, toaster oven or coffee pot; $10 Arizona skinny jeans; $12 men's dress shirts; $25 women's boots in more than 50 styles.
From 'Retail Hell' to 'Big Fancy'
In his blog, Retail Hell, Freeman Hall documents the voices of thousands of service industry workers and the abuse they deal with from customers, coworkers and corporations.
Billed as "America's favorite retail story teller," Freeman recently followed up his hilarious "Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store" with "Return to the Big Fancy: A Riotous Descent Into the Depths of Customer, Corporate and Coworker Hell" ($22.95, F+W Media).
The new memoir follows Freeman's descent back into his work hell, where a colorful cast of commissioned salespeople fight for sales at a rundown, high-end department store - and try not to get fired at the hands of entitled customers, horrible coworkers and an over-demanding company.
Although wrapped in humor, "Return to the Big Fancy" explores serious issues that millions face in the work place.
The theme of the book, Hall said during a recent phone interview from California, is getting through the end of the day and people who help you to "diffuse the hell."
"You realize that's how you get through any tough job: humor and friendship and support," he said. "The good people."
For more about Hall's books, as well as his blog, visit tulsaworld.com/retailhell
Three quick Black Friday tips
Don't wait until Black Friday morning to get ready for shopping.
Here are three things you can do on Thanksgiving to save time and cut fuss, courtesy of Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized consumer and money-saving expert.
Charge your smartphone. There's nothing worse than being without a suitable diversion while standing in line. Make sure your smartphone is fully charged and fully loaded with helpful apps. You can download the Coupon Sherpa mobile app for extra discounts, the RedLaser app for instant price-comparison and the Decide app to ensure you're buying at the right time.
Fill up now. Fuel up the day before so you aren't stuck at the gas station when you could be snatching up that last doorbuster sale. Carpooling is another great way to save on fuel and avoid the headache associated with finding your crew and coordinating your next move.
Get your wallet organized. Make it easy to access your preferred payment method, whether it's cash or credit cards. Designate a place in your purse or wallet to store receipts should you need to return something, or if you want proof for a price adjustment later in the season. Download the OneReceipt app to keep a mobile record of all your purchases.
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
Shoppers who go into Black Friday with a game plan can avoid chaos. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
Sisters-in-law Dawn Maddux of Beggs (left) and Samantha Tipton of Texas joke around while waiting to be checked out after bargain shopping at Toys R Us during the Black Friday sales in 2011. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World file