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A line of customers wait for a store to open on Black Friday in North Dakota in 2011. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

By Breana Brill
Niles West

Black Friday is a national shopping holiday for all shopaholics; consider it the Olympics for the bargain-obsessed. Usually, only really dedicated shoppers create strategies to get the best deals in town, while the rest of us get the picked-over items. But everybody who wants a deal should have a strategy! Here are my tips for the uninitiated to survive Black Friday without being trampled for those $3 penguin pajama pants.

1. Run to a few of the stores you’re planning to hit on Black Friday in advance and grab any coupon fliers, visit websites or watch for deals in the coupon section in the newspaper the week before. This will help you devise a clear list for what items you plan to get from each store. Create a list of stores you plan to shop at, what time they open and what you need so you can get in and out as quickly as possible.

2. Set a clear time for when you need to wake up to get to a store on time. Stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy usually have the longest lines since they always have the best deals. If you’re shooting for the cheapest price in town for a 16-inch TV, for example, you may have to camp out. If you’re going to brave the cold overnight for a deal, make sure you dress warm.

3. Once those stores open, you’ll probably see the real shopaholics and deal hunters running through the doors; if you think you’re a part of that category, by all means, join them. Just don’t stampede anyone in the process. For all the regular shoppers: Don’t expect to get any of the best deals if you’re not ready for a little competition.

4. Since you prepared so much for the moment you step into that wondrous store full of Black Friday deals, you should know what to do. You’ve memorized that store’s map so don’t waste any time racing for those $3 Christmas movies that no one truly likes. Try and stick to your list. Although it may be tempting to get that $1 doorbuster slow cooker, do you really need it? Probably not.

5. Lastly, just remember to have fun as all the shopaholics unite at the wee hours of the morning. Whether or not you get everything on your list, remember that they’re just things.

MAKE NOTE OF THESE STORES THAT OPEN EARLY FOR SHOPPERS:

  • Target, 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day
  • Toys R Us, 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day
  • Wal-Mart, 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day
  • Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic (selected stores), check your local store for times
  • Sears and Kmart, check your local store for times
  • Best Buy, Macy’s, Kohl’s, 12 a.m. Black Friday
  • J.C. Penney, 6 a.m. Black Friday

>> What’s your best tip for Black Friday shopping? Let us know in the comments below or tweet it to us @mashchicago!

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About The Mash

Maura Wall Hernandez is digital editor of The Mash.

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