Black Friday shopping tips
November 26, 2008
With the busiest bargain shopping day approaching, Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, said the best advice may be to shop local.
“It’s a difficult economy,” she said. “We encourage people to shop in Carson City because it will keep jobs here and keep local money here. By shopping locally, it keeps your taxes down, which saves you money in the long run.”
From Wal-Mart and Costco to the small, independently owned shops like the Purple Avacado and Due Sorella, Hannaman said, shoppers can likely find anything they’re looking for.
“We do have a lot of brand name stores here and discount stores,” she said. “Some people like those. Others want more unique kinds of things, one-of-a-kind items.”
She said downtown stores traditionally offer sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which kicks off the Christmas shopping season and is commonly referred to as “Black Friday” because it’s often when merchants begin moving into the black, or turning a profit.
Hannaman also encouraged shoppers to think outside of the cart.
Recommended Stories For You
“Just be creative,” she urged. “Gifts don’t always have to be a tangible item.”
She suggested a gym membership or a pass to the Carson Hot Springs as alternative types of gifts.
And, she said, there is an added bonus to shopping locally.
“Generally, when you’re out in Carson City you see so many people you know,” she said. “You get into the holiday spirit. You can’t do that in Reno or on the Internet.”
A list of local shops can be found at http://www.visitcarsoncity.com/attractions/shopping.php. Look for local antique stores at http://www.visitcarsoncity.com/attractions/antiquing.php.
Consumer World, at ConsumerWorld.org, offers these holiday shopping tips to help bag the best bargains:
Read the Ads: Check today’s ads and circulars for last-minute deals. Friday’s papers will include additional sales. To preview some of the items that will be on sale on “Black Friday,” visit bfads.net or blackfriday.gottadeal.com, Web sites with advance copies of store ads.
Evaluate the Deals: Not all advertised items are great deals, particularly this year. Use several Internet shopping robots, such as the Price Checker in Consumer World, or the ones at Shopping.com, PriceGrabber.com, or PriceSpider.com (with price histories) to compare what a variety of stores charge for the same item. If shopping online, find out the total price including shipping and tax (if any), and what the reputation of the seller is (use Shopzilla.com or ResellerRatings.com).
Research the Right Product: A low price on a lousy product is no bargain. Check websites where professionals evaluate products, such as Consumer Reports, Steves-Digicams.com (for cameras), Ecoustics.com (TV/hi-fi equipment), PCMagazine.com (computers), best/worst toy lists, etc. Also, nothing beats reading customer reviews by real owners of the products you are thinking of buying. Check Epinions.com, and read the user comments posted after most product descriptions at Amazon.com.
Save with “Triple Plays”: To save the most, combine the primary ways to save: buy items at a good sale price, use percent-off/dollars-off coupons offered by some stores to lower that price even more, and look for items that also have a cash back rebate.
Be an Early Bird: Look for “doorbuster” deals as early as 4 a.m. (Best Buy is giving out numbers for their hottest deals starting at 3 a.m.) Plot your route from store to store based on store opening times, and because quantities are limited, arrive before the doors open. Send family members to different stores if opening times conflict.
Some of the best deals this year include: a Kenmore front loading washer and dryer pair for $599.99 (Sears); Sharp 46-inch, full HDTV for $899.99 (Sears); Sony 40-inch, full HDTV for $899.99 (Circuit City); Samsung 40-inch, full HDTV for $799.99 (Best Buy); TomTom One 3rd Ed. GPS for $69.99 after rebate (Pep Boys); Western Digital 750 gig external hard drive for $88.88 (Target); an 8-gb flash drive for $12.99 after rebate (Staples); $10 off $25 Macy’s coupon; and a Black & Decker $99 toaster oven for $29.99 after rebate (Kohl’s).
Check the Return Policy: Before buying, find out the store’s return policy. While many stores have extended their return deadlines into January, others are clamping down by imposing restocking fees on certain categories of items, or by using a blacklisting database or returns tracking system to deny refunds to returns abusers.
Get a Gift Receipt: Make returns easier for gift recipients by asking the store for a gift receipt and include it in the gift box. Without a receipt, a refund may be denied outright, or may be limited to only an equal exchange, or to a merchandise credit for the lowest price the item has sold for in the recent past.