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Remember when Black Friday was fun? You'd wake up at 4 a.m., head to the Walmart in Rockbridge County, and because it was Lexington, Virginia, your only competition for big ticket items were a few dozen housewives. Yep, there weren't enough people in Rockbridge County to cause a tramplin', let alone to sell out of fancy bed sheets or video games.
Of course, most of the country doesn't live in an idyllic countryside paradise (nor do I, anymore). And with retailers bumping up Black Friday earlier and earlier (seriously, some of them have already started, while others are opening their doors at 7p.m. on Thanksgiving -- it's disgusting), you may be worried about scoring deals without ruining the holiday.
We hear you. Whether you're splurging for family, or trying to upgrade the firm's hardware, here are some tips for bargain hunting, saving the holiday, and wasting a ton of money.
It's Amazon, Then Everyone Else
We typically don't call out stores by name (we try to remain vendor-agnostic), but from personal experience, Amazon's Black Friday is the one to beat. Yes, they've joined (and exacerbated) the Black
Friday Week trend, but at least you don't have to leave the house -- you can ignore your family from two feet away while clicking "Add to Cart" compulsively during Thanksgiving dinner.
In all seriousness though, the biggest secret about Amazon's Black Friday is that they usually meet or beat everyone else's deals, without advertising in advance. (Think price matching.) The deals are presented as an endless stream of "Lightning Deals," which are available for only a short period of time at limited quantities.
The big caveat: you have to click the "Add to Cart" button immediately to get an item. The hottest deals are usually claimed within milliseconds. If you blink and miss it, you may get lucky on the waitlist, however.
Another tip: when in doubt, add it to your cart. You get fifteen minutes to second-guess the purchase and/or check out.
Where Else to Look
If Amazon doesn't have what you're looking for, a great place to track other sites' offerings is the Slickdeals Black Friday forum, where all of the ads and deals are posted, categorized, and voted on by site regulars (the cyber-equivalent of extreme couponers).
What are your favorite avoiding-the-lines strategies for Black Friday? Share your tips on Facebook.