November 25, 2008

Your ultimate guide to Black Friday 2008

Black Friday is mere moments away, so before you hit the streets at unbelievable hours, prepare yourself with everything you need to know before you get shopping—after all, knowledge is power. I've prepared a one-stop crash course for Black Friday 2008, so get ready to get your read on, because this one is going to be a good one.

Before you go out and start shopping...

1. Find the ads: This is where it all begins. You can find scans of advertisements and other information from major retailers on a variety of sites, like bfads.net, blackfriday.info, and blackfriday.gottadeal.com, but my personal favorite Black Friday information source has been SlickDeals.net. SlickDeals.net has a constantly updated page with uploaded scans of all major Black Friday ads (located here), and the website also created a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet (located here) organizing all Black Friday items into one neat place, so getting a quick overview of items and prices won't require having to scan through tons of color ad pages. Once you've gotten a general idea of what you're interested in buying...

2. Prioritize your list: It's probably impossible to get every single thing that you want on Black Friday (I know it is for me), so prioritize your items so you know exactly what you're getting and where you're getting it. Try to have a printed list on hand with model numbers and prices for reference, because it's going to be hard to remember what's going on amidst all of the chaos.

3. Learn the rules: Many stores are having special store hours specifically for Black Friday. For instance, Best Buy, Sears, Circuit City, and Wal-Mart locations will be opening at 5:00am, while Kmart, Target, Meijer, and a few others will be opening at 6:00am. Additionally, some stores will be giving out tickets/vouchers several hours before opening, so be sure you know exactly what to expect before you you head out. Also, knowing the number of units in stock can be helpful—most ads usually print store minimums for reference, or if you're really hot for an item, scope out the store just before closing the night before, find the exact item's location, and remember it or stash it in a secret location.

4. Coordinate with others: If you can, go with at least one friend or family member. Not only will it help pass the time in the wee hours of the night, but having a friend/ally will also help you be able to pick up hot sale items, and they'll also be able to hold your place in line while if you should ever need a bathroom/food/random break. If you want "doorbuster" sale items from multiple locations, coordinate a "Strike Team" with other Black Friday adventurers to divide and conquer. Strength in numbers is always nice to have on your side. Additionally, if you can, try and make friends with others in line. This will not only help pass the time, but it will also keep order and will keep "line-jumping" to a minimum.

5. Pack accordingly: If you're thinking about waiting in line with just a coat, think again. As someone who has done many overnight camp-outs, I have to personally recommend that you bring a fold-out chair, a blanket, something to do (Nintendo DS or PSP is nice, or you can go old school with a book), snacks, and water. Trust me, if you're comfortable, the time will pass much faster, and you'll have a much better experience to remember.

Now, on to the deals!

I've taken a good, hard look at this year's Black Friday ads, and here are the ones that stood out as the best deals this year.

HDTVs: This year, the deals on HDTVs seem slim to none, but there still are some hidden gems if you look hard enough. Plasmas: Meijer will have a 42" 1080i GFM Plasma TV for only $499, and Circuit City will have a 42" Samsung Plasma for $699 (50" for $899). A 50" Panasonic Viera (nice) will be at Best Buy for $899 as well. LCDs: 32" Emerson LCD for $388 at Wal-Mart, 32" 1080p Sceptre LCD for $399 at MicroCenter, 42" 1080p Sylvania at Sears for $699 and a 46" Sharp 1080p LCD for $899. Best Buy will also have an Insignia 47" 1080p LCD for $999.

Laptops: As of now, the hot laptop spot this year will be at Best Buy—A Toshiba 15.4" Dual-Core Turion 64 X2 with 3GB of RAM and 120GB of hard-drive space for $379. Best Buy will also have a 14.1" HP Pavilion (nice size for working on the go) with Core 2 Duo technology, 3GB of RAM, and 160GB of hard-drive space for $499. For $100 more, you can get a printer included as well as more hard-drive space and more RAM.

Video games: If you're looking for an Xbox 360, there are a few pretty good deals floating around right now. Best Buy will have a $299 Xbox 360 Pro bundle which includes four games—Lego Indiana Jones, Kung-Fu Panda, NBA 2k9, and Tony Hawk. Another great deal is Wal-Mart's $199 Xbox 360 Arcade pack which includes Guitar Hero, but you will probably have to shell out extra cash for a hard drive down the road. Circuit City will also have an excellent deal—Xbox 360 Arcade with 20GB hard drive and an extra wireless controller for $199. This is a really great deal if you don't mind having a 20GB hard drive (not a huge deal in my opinion.) On the other hand, Playstation 3 deals are pretty much nonexistent, except for one bundle that includes Ratchet and Clank and a Casino Royale Blu-ray for $399. Another hot bundle will be the Guitar Hero III 2-player pack at Wal-Mart for $50 for Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii—expect those to be flying off the shelves.

Blu-rays, DVDs, and CDs: Kmart, Sears, Wal-mart, Circuit City, and Best Buy will have a bunch of different deals on all sorts of media, but I'm personally going to go check out Circuit City's selection. They will have an assortment of Blu-ray titles for $8.99, $11.99, and $17.99 (I need to get that Flags of our Fathers), and they will also have a South Park box set for $9.99 and a 30Rock box set for $14.99 (yes!).

Home theater systems: Sears will have a nice Sony 1000 watt 5.1 home-theater system with an included DVD player with 1080p upconversion for $249 and will also have a Blu-ray 5.1 home-theater system by Samsung for $599. (Best Buy will have the Blu-ray theater system as well.) Circuit City will have a Samsung 1000 watt 5.1 home-theater system (no DVD playback) for $149, and a nice pair of Onkyo 7.1 home-theater systems for $399 and $599. There's one thing for sure—if you're watching movies without surround sound, you're missing out, big time.

Now that you're up to speed on this year's Black Friday, which retailer are you going to camp out at? Which deals have you spotted? Any other tips and suggestions? Add your input in the comments below.

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Source: Yahoo.com

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