Welcome back, fellow Black Friday shoppers, to this fourth annual edition of tips and quips.
But I'm afraid, heroes, that quips will be in short supply, as we're in a depressing state of affairs. We've done too good of a job shopping on Black Friday, ironically putting our holiday in danger.
The national retail fat cats have seen our zeal to revive this flagging economy and decided to cash in by opening up earlier and earlier, bleeding into even that day that comes before our holiday. Well, I say, "No, thanks(giving) to you."
Of course, we have only ourselves to blame. Those overzealous heroes camped out in Best Buy parking lots just begged for the chain to start opening at midnight, ensuring we're out and about on Thursday night. Following suit were companies such as Target, GameStop and Kohl's. Even among the aged guard, Macy's (still Lazarus to me) is opening at midnight.
And Wal-Mart, in its quest to have another person trampled to death, is starting its toy sale two hours earlier when we heroes will be more available.
But I think these eager-beaver retailers are making a mistake. Despite their enormous marketing departments and reams of market research, these stores don't realize that many heroes are, shall we say, of a certain age.
More than a few of these silver-haired shoppers go to bed at 8 p.m. and don't stay in bed past 4 a.m. on most days, much less one as important as our holiday, after having slept off a food-induced coma from the day before. (There are few as heroic as I, going to bed at 2 a.m., only to be in the Steak 'n Shake drive-through for an invigorating power milkshake an hour later.)
If you regularly go to bed before prime-time TV, you're certainly not going to be up at midnight shopping for colorful socks and sweaters at Gap.
Plus, older shoppers generally have more disposable income and will gladly part with some greenbacks for an electronic gadget that will be obsolete tomorrow.
Here is our only hope, heroes: The older among us need to boycott these early Black Friday sales. That coupled with the retail-clerk rebellion at Target and other chains could spell the end to this wretched expansion of our holiday.
Make it happen, heroes, or we'll lose the magic of Black Friday.
So for those venturing out, here are a couple of new lessons learned and a recap of yesteryear's tips.
Don't be like that Seinfeld parking garage episode: Most of us aren't at our top mental games during the wee Black Friday hours. And that makes it easier than ever to lose your ride. Use the smartphones I encouraged you to buy last year to tag where you park and use a geo-locating app to find your way back amongst the masses of other heroes.
Why is this TV behind the bacon? Last year, I told you how I found a discounted GPS unit next to the Baked Lay's near the Best Buy cash registers. While that was certainly a discarded item, the sneaky among us can take that as a lesson.
If you know in advance what's going to be on sale on Black Friday (go to Bfads.net to find out), head to your store on Wednesday and hide the sure-to-be-gone items in another aisle. But use some discretion. After all, that 42-inch television is going to stick out in the freezer section.
Carbo loading? Don't be a zero, hero: Every experienced hero knows the day is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash. So don't eat too much too early. There's nothing worse than feeling sluggish in a checkout line that never ends. I haven't seen it happen, but I wouldn't hesitate to skip in front of a zero napping in line.
Red means stop (driving on that blasted road): The smart(phone) users among us can visit Google Maps and enable the "traffic" layer to see how traffic is flowing around Lexington. Green is fast, yellow is reasonable, and red means annoyingly slow.
More smartphone tips: There are dozens of Black Friday apps. Among the features are sales comparisons, as well as downloaded scans of retailers' ads so you don't have to keep up with your paper copies.
Coupons rule: More and more stores are requiring coupons for their Black Friday deals, so hoard yours, and steal your family's. It might be the only way to buy an entire season's worth of golf balls in one morning. That's an effective way, too, of annoying the same cashier, who will call you out for repeatedly not donating $1 to charity.
Stay away from big-box electronics stores (yes, I've broken this rule for DVDs): The lines stay crazy long for hours because of people buying warranties and such. If you can, buy that big TV somewhere else.
Get to steppin': Just park the car anywhere and walk. You could spend as much time circling the lot as you do inside the store.
Never get a cart: It's too hard to maneuver through the mass of heroes, especially those who are dragging along the next generation of heroes in strollers.
Know what you want before you enter: This is no time for browsing. Find your item, and head for the nearest out-of-the-way register; the back of the store is a good place to start.
Think outside the town: If you're shopping at a store that has a location in a city near Lexington, say at Richmond Centre, drive there. It'll be far less crowded, and you'll have a better chance of getting those highly sought-after items.
Clays Mill Road is your friend: Take the side streets to get to your shopping destinations. Nicholasville Road is a mess on any given day, much less one with so many heroes.