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Time to go save the economy

Welcome back, fellow Black Friday shoppers, to this second annual edition of tips and quips.

And let's take a moment to welcome some new shoppers, or heroes as we call ourselves (after all, our spending is going to restore this tattered economy).

Sure, most of you rookies might be slightly scared of venturing out Friday morning, but take heed, you can succeed (but only if you speak in rhymes). And just know, the odds of your being trampled to death at Wal-Mart are infinitesimal.

Without further offensive jokes, here are a few more lessons learned.

Feel no shame

Dick's Sporting Goods had a terrific sale last year on golf balls, offering a dozen Top Flites of different varieties for $5 each. Unfortunately, the chain limited shoppers to two per coupon.

That didn't stop this hero.

On my third trip, though, I did pause and think. As I once again got out my wallet, the cashier looked up, recognized me and said, "Yeah, that's right. You don't want to donate $1 to help the needy kids."

That's right, lady. I recognize the value of charity but not when I'm hoarding cheap golf balls for the coming season.

Oh, and here's a suggestion for Dick's and other chains: I like your fund-raising work, but on a morning when the checkout lines are backed up beyond belief, let's speed up the payment process.

Head coupon clipper

More and more stores, like Dick's, are requiring coupons for their Black Friday deals.

If you're like me and interested in stocking up for the season on your goods of choice, hoard your coupons.

Ask your friends and family for their copies of the ad. And definitely look at the front of the store for extras.

Or feel free to head to any Herald-Leader sales rack and purchase some extra copies of the Thursday paper. Your generosity will keep me and my colleagues employed. (I told you I had no shame.)

Look near and far

Sometimes we heroes get confused or pick up the wrong bargains. If you're looking for something that appears to be sold out, keep looking.

I almost came away empty-handed a couple of years ago at Sears on a hunt for a screwdriver set for my sister.

As I scoured the back of the store, I just happened to start looking at a table around which fellow heroes were snaked waiting for the cash register. There sat my Craftsman catch. It's about a 50-50 chance that someone had just set it down there and I snatched it, but I like to think it had been picked up by mistake and discarded.

And take the story of Glenn Shields, a hero I met last year at the Target at Hamburg.

He stood in a 50-minute line in electronics to pick up a $299 26-inch HDTV with the coupon he was issued outside. Turns out they were next to the shoe department.

Think outside the town

If you're shopping at a store that has a location in a suburb of Lexington, say at Richmond Centre, drive there. They'll be far less crowded.

The rundown

And here's a quick recap of the tips offered last year:

Stay away from big-box electronic stores: The lines stay crazy long for hours because of people buying warranties and such. If you can, buy that big TV somewhere else. Oh, and this tip is a lot easier to follow this year, what with Circuit City out of business and all.

Get to steppin': Just park the car anywhere and walk. The time you spend circling the lot can be as lengthy as your time inside if you know where to shop and check out.

Never get a cart: It's too hard to maneuver through the mass of heroes. Enough said.

Know what you want before you enter: This is no time for browsing. Find your item and head for the nearest obscure register; the back of the store is a good place to start.

Know your store layout: That Sears screwdriver set took me ages to find, but not just because I thought it was sold out: I didn't know where to look. Like most shoppers, I hadn't visited Sears in a decade, and the tools were in a completely different part of the store.

Clays Mill Road is your friend: Take the side streets to get to your shopping destination. Nicholasville is a mess on any given day, much less one with so many heroes.

Scott Sloan is a business reporter who has bought far more DVDs on Black Friday than he has ever had time to watch. He's still trying to find time to watch that $3 copy of Entrapment purchased in 2005. Reach him at (859) 231-1447 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1447, or ssloan@herald-leader.com.

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