Approximately $56 billion dollars was spent nationwide over the course of the four-day “pre-Black Friday weekend.” And that was just the warm up.
by Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell
Special to the New Tri-State Defender
If you’re now reading this article, it means that you survived the dramatic foretaste of frenzied things to come. Approximately $56 billion dollars was spent nationwide over the course of the four-day “pre-Black Friday weekend,” Friday through Monday.
And that was just the warm up.
Now, it’s time to suit up for the real deal. Many more millions are expected to converge on malls, department stores, boutiques, specialty shops and everything in between. Stores already open for Black Friday deals will be open on Thanksgiving. Some will begin their holiday bonanza of bargains on Wednesday, and still more open just after Thanksgiving dinner around the table is done – 6 p.m.
The frenetic onslaught of relentless shoppers scrambling for the big bargains will be out in full, frenzied force. Please accept my condolences if you plan to climb aboard this year’s holiday crazy train. Many will be singing the “I-said-I-wouldn’t-do-this-again, maxed-out credit blues” long after the Christmas lights have been turned off and decorations are back in the attic.
Now that you know better, you can cast an all-knowing eye on those poor saps at work, in your church, and at your neighborhood association meetings moaning about spending most of 2015 paying off the debts of 2014.
First, there are some always-remember-and-never-forget rules of engagement, and some sure-fire suggestions on choosing the perfect gift for loved ones and friends. Then, it’s on to some great places to find the best deals for your pocket.
* Begin with a serious budget that does not include credit card limits and signature loans. Use only what has been set aside for holiday shopping over the course of the year. Or, if purchases cannot be paid off in full immediately when credit card bills come in January, don’t buy. Using bill money to shop will put your family in an unnecessarily, precarious position.
* Make a list and check it twice. Gifts for immediate family, small children and young people in your clan, your spouse or “lil boo,” and long-time family friends go first. Favored co-workers, church members, and valued acquaintances should go on a secondary list. They would feel just as special with the gift of a phone call, lunch date, or some other gesture of kindness. (As you go down the list and purchases climb closer and closer to budget, it may be necessary to take the last few people off the gift list and add them to your secondary list. They will still appreciate you: it really is “the thought that counts.”)
* Join forces with a couple of sisters or favorite cousin to share the cost of some big-ticket item for the kiddos. You will all stretch your dollars so much further.
* Stick to your budget and your lists. Remember: you really are not Santa Claus, and there is no little army of elves making Christmas gifts for you to pass out to everyone.
* Resist the temptation to make high-dollar purchases for the household. New appliances, furniture and automobiles should not be bought during the holiday season. If you think these bargains are great, just wait until December 26th. Big-ticket items are going to drop in price like you wouldn’t believe.
* Don’t fall for the okey-doke. It sounds good that you can get a 50-inch television for $218 somewhere. Thousands are reading the same ad you are, and the store didn’t stock but 35. A vicious early morning scramble to be “among the first” is not an emotionally healthy start to the holiday shopping season. There will be more, and you will see those savings again. A little patience can mean a big payoff.
* Keep in mind the three “n’s”:
- Navigate wisely through the unyielding bombardment of never-before-seen, unheard-of savings every merchant will declare. You have a limit, and you have a list. Don’t violate either.
- Negotiate in this commercially charged, empty-the-shelves dance with merchants. Everything is negotiable, if you take the time, especially in boutiques and specialty shops. If you offer to buy five of a certain item and ask for a discount on the purchase, you will likely get it. Who understands the concept of buying in bulk better than store managers and merchants? Items marked as “irregular” may not have met the manufacturer’s standard, but are perfectly sound and visually flawless to you. Ask for an additional discount. You’re the shopper. You hold all the cards.
- Novelties will be the thing that your loved ones will remember. Leave the hideous ties and dreadful socks in the store. They already have a mountain of both at home they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. Let your gift be thoughtful. It can pertain to a favorite hobby, like golf or bowling, tools for the do-it-yourselfer, omelet makers and baking utensils for those who love the kitchen, a counter grill for winter barbeques, gardening tools for gardeners, nostalgia items for history buffs – the possibilities are endless. Choose a novelty gift, and then sit back and enjoy the praise coming your way throughout the coming year.
Brick and mortar:
Couples with small children, lovers strolling through the mall, hoards of teens out enjoying the music and crowds, and the serious bargain shopper hoping to score big on holiday savings – they’ll all be out shopping this weekend. Everywhere the eye can see, there will be people and their cars. If you must brave the coming invasion, then you must.
Here are some of the best places to go:
* Walmart, K-Mart, and Target: Discount leaders all year ‘round will offer a ton of savings on clothing, jewelry, toys, games, and more. But be prepared for waiting in checkout lines for multiple hours. One couple last week waited five hours in line to make their purchases. Five hours. (And that was just the preview.)
* Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Ross, and Burlington’s: Watches, jewelry, winter sweaters, dresses, costume jewelry, and household furnishings and home décor are being offered at prices that are absolutely too good to pass up.
* Nike Outlet, Old Navy, and Banana Republic: For that hard-to-buy-for “tween,” teen, or young adult, check out the buys and bargains, especially the buy-one-get-one and buy-one-half-off-second offers that abound everywhere. (We wouldn’t even think of wearing these rags, but the kids love this stuff!)
Give the gift of drama: Unlike the real-life, unsolicited drama of family and friends, our City Beautiful offers an impressive array of stage productions to suit even the most demanding critic on your list. Purchase tickets for an upcoming play or consider season tickets from: Playhouse on the Square, TheatreWorks, Hattiloo Theatre, Theatre Memphis, New Moon Theatre Company, and Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre. Go online or call for additional information on each.
Give the gift of pampering: There is nothing – and I mean, nothing – like luxuriating in the de-stressing confines of a great spa with an attentive staff. Memphis has quite a few to offer: Serenity Day Spa, for full spa treatments, is presently running 50-80 percent off specials through Groupon. The Rejuvenation Center is also running up to 56 percent off specials on Groupon. Go to Groupon online and give a spa day to a loved one for pennies on the dollar. (They’ll think you paid too much.) Go to Massage Envy online and check out their dirt-cheap offerings: One hour massage, $49; Sugar Foot Scrub Therapy, $10; Aroma Therapy, $10; Deep Muscle Therapy, $12.
Give the gift of travel: www.vacationstogo.com offers 82 percent discount on last-minute cruises. Call and book one for a ridiculous rate, and then gift-wrap those tickets to surprise that special someone.
Give the gift of wine: CorksCrew Wine Club offers a membership for everyone. You specify the number of bottles per month, what you would like to spend, taste preference, and duration of membership. They will handle the rest. This is the perfect gift for the wine connoisseur in your life.
Give the gift of sports: ESPN’s “30 For 30 Fifth Anniversary Collection” is being offered to the sports fanatic in the house. The price is $149, regularly selling at $250.This will be a gift that keeps on giving.
Give the gift of barbeque: Remind family and friends who live out of town why Memphis is the arguable barbeque capital of the world. Send a mouth-watering package from any of the following (Shipping options are available as well).: Central BBQ, Corky’s Charles Vergos Rendezvous, and Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q. Remind them of why nobody does it like Memphis.
And last, but certainly not least, buy up a ton of bubble bath, spa facial wash, lipsticks and eye shadow, lotions and potions from your local Avon and Mary Kay representatives. At the end of the year, they will have a ton of items that were never picked up, or surplus merchandise. These will make wonderful beauty baskets you can put together and wrap yourself. You can also pick up a hefty stash of other items at dollar stores and beauty supplies for incredible savings. Creativity is a gift to be always given away.
There, you have it; all my tips and trips for surviving this holiday season. Trust me. You’ll get the big payoff on Christmas Day just watching those faces light up when they open your gift.
Revel in the joy – the real joy – of this season: a time of enjoying family, reflecting on the goodness of God over the past year, and celebrating the birthday of all birthdays.
Be blessed and happy this season. Imagine the possibilities in 2015!