In the week leading up to Black Friday, more and more stores announced that they would be opening at midnight. Each announcement chipped away at my excitement over one of my favorite holiday traditions. I have been a hard core Black Friday shopper since before it was commonly known as Black Friday. When I first started, we'd wake up at 4:30 AM to be in line by 5 AM for stores that opened at 6 AM. Last year, I was up at 3 AM for a 4 AM store opening. This year, I never went to sleep. Here is an hour-by-hour recap of my shopping marathon (which actually started on Wednesday, when I found out that Kohl's had their doorbusters online. I bought about ten things there, including two cashmere sweaters for myself, saved 15% with a coupon code, and got free shipping.)
8:00 PM Thanksgiving Day
I woke up from my two-hour nap, freshened up, and headed out to Wal-Mart, which was opening at 10 PM. I was surprised to find the parking lot full, the doors open, and no line outside when I arrived at 8:30 PM. I had forgotten that Wal-Mart has people line up inside, near their desired items. I was first in line for $5 Barbies.
Still in line inside of Wal-Mart. It was hot in there and people were getting squirrelly.
As soon as employees unwrapped the pallets of sale items, I grabbed my four Barbies (my friend grabbed the other three for me because they were on both sides of the aisle, and I wanted one of each) and got the hell out of there. We walked out at 10:10, but it took another ten minutes to get out of the insane parking lot.
Our next stop was Target. We were in line by 10:30. The smart lady behind us in line at Target brought a portable propane heater. I am not adding this to my list of Black Friday tips, but I did inch closer and closer to her as we waited.
Still in line at Target. The Target in Moorpark handled the logistics better than any store I've ever been to on Black Friday, and you know that it saying a lot. They had carts lined up from the entrance of the store, curving around the corner of the building, to corral the line and prevent people from the parking lot trying to sneak in once the doors opened. Employees came down the line several times to tell us what the procedures would be. Once the doors opened at Midnight, they would let in 30 people, wait 15 seconds, then let in 30 more. If there was any running, pushing, or other unruliness, they would shut it down.
Target passed out Luna Bar samples which were yummy, and surprisingly low in sugar.
MIDNIGHT, BLACK FRIDAY
Target opened their doors and customers proceeded in an orderly fashion. Employees were well-placed throughout the store and reminded people not to run. My friend wasn't looking for anything for herself at this store, so I asked her to go to the toy aisle for Princess Yahtzee, while I tried to track down the $25 iTunes gift cards that were on sale for $20, and the $5 Christmas Domo tee. I found both. Sadly, they only had Domo in a men's small. I hope I find another one before Christmas so I can exchange it. If not, I hope I fit into a men's small by next Christmas.
Target also set up one feeder line. I hate waiting in feeder lines, but I appreciate the order they bring to the experience. I didn't have to wait in line at all, though, because I was done by 12:15.
Our next destination was Old Navy. We arrived 30 minutes after they opened. My friend waited in the car because I was only going there to buy a wool peacoat on sale for $25. The coats were by the door. I tried on my size, liked it, and choose a second color since it was so cheap. I noticed that the feeder line was on the opposite side of the registers, so I headed that direction. My heart sank when I turned the corner and saw how long it was, and then when I turned the next corner and still couldn't see the end. The line snaked around 2/3 of the store.
I waited in line for 45 minutes at Old Navy. While I was in line, I chatted up the family in front of me, and picked up a couple tees for my four-year-old (one was $3, the other was $5). An employee was asking questions ("First person to show me an out-of-state driver license...") and handing out coupons. When she came by, I suggested that, as the Foursquare Mayor of Old Navy, certainly I deserved a coupon. Others around me agreed, but the employee would not be swayed. I did eventually get one because she was standing near me when she said, "First three people wearing headbands..."
Our next destination was the mall, which had opened at Midnight. We arrived shortly before 2 AM. I knew that the department stores were still opening at their published Black Friday times, but I thought the rest of the mall stores would be open. Unfortunately, Gap Kids wasn't opening until 5 AM, so I didn't get the $15 fleece jacket doorbuster deal there. My friend wanted to go to GameStop first. That line was insane, so I left her there and went to Sephora to check out their $10 deals. They were long gone, so I went in and piled on the make-up. The only store I planned to go to at the mall was JC Penney, which wasn't opening until 4 AM.
After I put on more than enough make-up, I scoped out a place to rest my tired feet. I checked Instagram and saw a post from a friend who got a deal on Fiestaware at Macy's. I was sitting outside of Macy's Mens and Home, so I figured I might as well go in and check things out. I saw a doorbuster deal near the entrance that would make a great second gift for my husband (which is why I can't say what it was). I checked out the cookie sheets on sale but none of the prices enticed me. I found a gift for my step-dad (which I also can't mention). Then I checked out the Fiestaware. I didn't buy anything, but I did add this pizza plate to my Amazon Wishlist. The line was moving slowly, but I had to wait for my friend anyway, so it was no big deal. She arrived as I neared the front.
I still can't believe that none of the food court restaurants were open. That was so short-sighted. We were tired and hungry and didn't feel like hanging around the loud, crowded mall for another hour before JC Penney opened, so we went to Denny's nearby. Denny's has a freaking NACHO SALAD on the menu. It was good.
We arrived at JC Penney a little after 4 AM. The lines were getting longer. I found the gloves I wanted and a couple more $5 Barbies. My friend stood in line while I looked for a doorbuster I never did find. They also didn't have any free ornaments left. I'm not sure what time we left, but we didn't spend more than 20 minutes there.
We headed to K-Mart, which was opening at 5 AM. We both had things to shop for there.
Doors opened. A few people cut the line. I did not punch them in the back of their heads. I bought the cheap cookie sheets I wanted. I couldn't find the kids gloves for 99 cents, so I bought a couple pairs of adult gloves for 99 cents. There was no waiting to check out.
We were pretty well ahead of schedule at that point. The next store on the list, in order of priority, wasn't set to open until 7 AM, so we headed to the outlet mall. It was last on the list, in order of priority, but it had opened at 10 PM the night before, and it was on our way to the next shopping center
I had my friend drop me off at the Nine West outlet. I wasn't sure if I was going to buy anything, but I knew they were having a good sale on boots, so I wanted to check it out. A pair of tall boots that I bought a few weeks ago for $109 in black, were on sale for $89, with another 20% off, so I bought them in tan. My friend had miraculously found a nearby parking spot, and didn't have to circle the lot as planned.
We headed over to the Disney outlet. She wanted to look for a specific gift there. Everything in the store was 20% off, plus there were some big markdowns. I bought slippers for my girls that were marked down to $10, and a nightshirt for myself that was also marked down to $10. I didn't particularly want a Nightmare Before Christmas nightshirt, but that was a good price and it was 100% cotton, which is surprisingly hard to find these days.
All the restaurants were open in the outlet mall. Who wants Johnny Rockets at 5:30 AM? Everyone.
Our next stop was Bed, Bath & Beyond. My friend was looking for a specific cookbook that she was told was there. We couldn't find it. I did find the same exact cookie sheets that I'd bought at K-Mart, but for $3 cheaper, plus an additional 20% off. We bought our things and went next door to stand in the very short line for Cost Plus World Market, which wasn't opening until 7 AM.
Doors opened. People rushed to the back for their free TinTin ornament and movie ticket. I did not. Even a free ticket couldn't entice me to see that movie. I was there for $5 pashminas for teacher gifts, half-price cookie mixes, and stocking stuffers. I passed on the cookie mixes, but got everything else I wanted. I probably spent the most time browsing in this store of all the stores.
Because we'd already hit the outlet mall, we only had one store left on our list, Pier 1, but all the things I wanted to look at there, I'd already picked up at other stores, so we scratched that one off. We sat in the car, munching on a bag of kettle corn (impulse buy at Cost Plus), and re-evaluated our lists.
My friend had one thing she wanted to look for to add to a gift she'd purchased at the Disney outlet. We went through our sales ads again because I had recalled seeing the item. Turns out all the stores had one. We chose to go back to K-Mart to get it so that I could return my cookie sheets and look for those kids gloves again.
Done at K-Mart. My sister texted and asked if we were at Cost Plus. She wanted a TinTin ornament. Another friend texted to see if we were at the outlet mall. She wanted to join us. We all decided to go out to eat instead. My sister bailed, saying she wanted to wait in line at Kohl's (there is one near us that isn't allowed to open until 9 AM due to city regulations) to make sure she got the things she wanted.
On our way in to Marmalade Cafe, my friend popped into Cost Plus to get my sister a TinTin ornament.
Nom. Nom. Nom.
Wrapping up our purchases.
Watching Gossip Girl.
Watching Gossip Girl.