Black Friday shopping for hockey moms is a big challenge. The Friday after Thanksgiving is more for those out of town hockey tournaments that may drag the whole family out of state than it is for Black Friday shopping. Getting our little champions out on the ice is our primary concern, but in the back of all our minds, we know that some of the best deals of the year are going on at malls and retail stores all around us.
Hockey always comes first, but those presents aren’t going to buy themselves. Those doorbuster deals might mean the difference between getting your kid all the big things on their Christmas list or making them go without a few things, so you don’t run out of wine money.
Being out of town doesn’t mean that Black Friday isn’t an option–as tempting as it might be to skip the crowds and save your energy for the game. The stores are running their specials no matter where you are, especially the national chains.
Need to grab a copy of that hot new game for half off? You fight the crowds. Want to find a nice TV at a better than decent price? You fight the crowds. Even saving a little cash on the random knickknacks means one thing. You fight the crowds. Lucky for you, you’re a hockey mom, and fighting with crazy is your standard weekend routine.
Just like winning a hockey game, the key to successful Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms is the Pregame. Come Friday morning; you have to be prepared to exit the hotel, get to the stores, and then get to the game.
Pregame Tips: Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms
Arrange for a Dad to Take the Kids to the Game
You have to get the kids to the game an hour before faceoff. You can’t afford to lose that time on Black Friday. So, make arrangements for a couple of dads to get the team to the game, and then gather a crew of moms to head to the stores.
Discount Gift Cards
Rise.com has a wide selection of gift cards from major retailers, all at some sort of discount. The discounts tend to be under 10% off, but a few dollars saved is a few dollars more in your purse.
Signing up for a retailer’s newsletter can land you some fantastic coupons and let you know about upcoming sales. It’s easy and costs you nothing.
PRO TIP: Use a different email account than your personal email. That way your inbox doesn’t get clogged with spam.
Some things on your list will inevitably not be at the store – any store. Either have another idea for a present or prepare to wait until they are restocked. Online retailers can put you on a waiting list, but if you prefer the brick and mortar route, some places might still offer rainchecks.
Scout Sales Online
Find out which stores have what on sale before you even start the minivan. There are several excellent online resources like the one from Penny Pinchin’ Mom that provide a searchable online database of sales. You can also use it to look up specific items in a store, and see if it is on sale for a better price somewhere else.
You got your smartphone out, so use it for something besides Facebook and texting. The item you want may not be on sale at that store, but it could be somewhere else. Search the world wide web to see if there are better prices elsewhere. There are even apps that can scan barcodes, and use that to search specific sites.
Getting everything set up for Black Friday takes a lot of time, and retailers will often get a jumpstart on this by applying the Black Friday price a couple of days early. These usually aren’t the big-ticket items, like the 55” 4K TV for $500, but there are still plenty of gifts on your list that may get the early treatment.
Go Earlier than Wednesday
Some stores ramp up their holiday sales as early as a couple of weeks before Black Friday. This can be a great way to get a head start of the deals, even on things like electronics and toys. It may not be the all-powerful doorbusters, but it can still be a great deal.
Figure out a Plan to Avoid Walmart
Walmart tends to be the most mobbed of all the retailers on Black Friday. Also, this is where most of the fights and people getting trampled to death over a TV tend to happen. That said, Walmart is sometimes the best place for a deal on that particular item. So, get your game face on and fight your way in.
Do Your Homework, That Deal May Not be a Deal
Prices can be arbitrary in retail, especially on big shopping days. There are two things to watch out for. One is that while Black Friday may grab the headlines when it comes to scoring super deals, the best prices often hit closer to Christmas itself when retailers make that last big push to up the sales.
The other thing to keep in mind is that stores will often jack up a price before applying the “discount.” Let’s say that an item usually retails for $100. A store could up the price to $130, apply a 20% percent discount, and now that one $100 item is at the new low price of $104. Always check what the average retail price for an item is before making that purchase.
Plan a Budget and Stick to the Budget
Getting caught up in the feeding frenzy that is Black Friday is easy to do. We might start with the best intentions, only to find just one more deal we can’t pass up followed by another and another.
Staying on budget isn’t only good for your bank account, it will also help you focus on finding the right gifts for your friends and family, and not some random trinket you picked up because it was shiny and cheap. Plan on using cash can help here.
Remember: Door Busters are Unicorns
One trick that retailers use to lure in customers is the doorbuster. Here they promise some fantastic item at a price that makes you question their sanity. The thing is, there is often a limited number of these items, and they disappear quickly. The store has what they want though -you inside their doors. What are you going to do, after standing in line for hours when it’s below thirty degrees outside? Not shop?
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 1: Get Up Early
The first thing we do is wake up a little extra early. No big deal. We’re used to it. We drink that godawful garbage from the in-room coffee maker just to give us enough of a boost to get dressed and hit a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.
We all know that hotel coffee is awful, so roll with the fact that your first cup of coffee will suck. But, let that liquid hate fill your veins. You are going to need it if you want to cash in on these deals and still make it to the game on time.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 2: Skip the Carts and Use Bags
The stores will be crowded. They always are. Navigating narrow isles is hard enough when a store isn’t busy, but add in the throngs of Black Friday shoppers and a mess of extra stock, and now you have a headache on four wobbly wheels. Unless you plan on buying something unusually large or are doing all your shopping at one store, use shopping bags instead of a cart. It will make getting around the store easier.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 3: Come to Terms with the Fact that You will be Surrounded by Crazy ALL Day
If the sales and deals on Black Friday are the same from city to city, so are the crowds. You will still be facing throngs of other desperate shoppers looking to save a few bucks.
These are the usual frugal shopper moms and those desperate to grab that one toy that has every other kid going nuts. Some of these other moms have been doing this for a while, and maybe you have too.
The thing is, hockey moms have an edge. We possess a mix of bloodlust that lurks below the surface which drives us forward to our goals, and a level of discipline to stay in control. It might be tempting to body check that one annoying shopper who barrels through the crowds without any manners. And, we could sooooo do it too. We know to save our energy for when things are down to the wire.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 4: Rely on Your Teammates
Also, as hockey moms, you won’t be alone. Chances are better than good that at least three or four of the other moms on the team will also want to get in on some of the deals, and would be willing to carpool to the frenzy.
There is a reason hockey moms travel in packs. One effective game plan is to make a list of all the things everybody wants. That list can be organized by items, and then divided up by which items are in which department of the store.
Each mom takes a department and picks up everything on her part of the list. When everyone is back together, divvy up the goods.
PRO TIP: Keep your phones on, maybe even start a group chat. There will always be items that have sold out, or a mom will hear about another item being on display out of their designated zone. Communication is the key to winning Black Friday.
Nothing makes Black Friday more bearable and potentially a little fun like making it a team effort. Not to mention that it is nice for there to be someone you trust to have your back. We have all seen those crazy videos of people being trampled and beaten by the lunatic shopper as soon as the store’s doors open. We don’t want that to be us, on either the giving or receiving end. That said, you are in another town where people don’t know you. Keep those elbows, high ladies.
Get the most essential gift shopping out of the way first. Not only will it reduce the stress of “having to get X, Y, and Z,” it will also increase your odds of actually finding “X, Y, and Z,” if they are hard to find that year – the way every super popular toy is hard to find.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 6: Don’t Get Fooled by Deke
Black Friday can be a great time to find incredible discounts on almost any product. It is also the time that many stores try and unload junk on shoppers lost in the frenzy of the deal. Outdated electronics, an overstock of lesser quality brands, or even discontinued items can often be dressed up as some sort of excellent deal when it isn’t. Some prime examples come from a few years ago when stores offloaded HD-DVD players and 42″ 720p TVs.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 7: Forget Price Matching
Most major retailers such as BestBuy, Target, and Walmart suspend price matching on Black Friday since many of their prices are already as low as they can make them, and still have it worth opening the doors. It’s a hassle anyway. You, as a shopper, and they as a retailer, already have enough to worry about. Don’t waste time trying to price match.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 8: Shop at the Right Place
The best way I can put it is that just because a store sells clothes doesn’t mean they have ” real clothes.” The same can be said for electronics, random gadgets, or other specialty goods. Go to the stores that either specialize or excel at having specific items. Here are some examples.
- Office Depot and Office Max: Computers
- Amazon: Video Games
- Toys-R-Us: Toys and Board Games
- Kohl’s and JC Penny: Clothes
- Best Buy: Tablets
- Electronics Express: TVs
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 9: Start Early and Go Late
This one is common sense. The earlier you make it to a store, the more likely they will have all the things you are looking for. The flip side of this nugget of advice is to hit the stores later in the day. Retailers want customers to come in all day long. Some sales and markdowns might not kick in until the afternoon or even late into the evening.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 10: Make New Friends
Talk to the people standing in line with you. Not only is it a more productive and exciting way to spend the minutes before checkout, instead of staring at your phone, but it could also be helpful. Other shoppers may have seen something in a part of the store you overlooked, or know what bargains the other stores have going on. They may even hold your place in line while you run back and grab something you missed. Plus, it never hurts to be friendly.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 11: Get Gift Receipts and Understand the Return Policy
Some gifts will be returned. Clothes sizes are determined by a bunch of blind monkeys, so they rarely fit as the label says. A toy could be defective. Other times, a person simply may not like the gift. Keeping the receipts is the smart move, and so is asking for a gift receipt. Also know what a store’s return policy is, especially if it is out of town. Most major retail chains will accept returns that were sold in any store at a different location. Make sure first, before buying something expensive.
Black Friday Shopping for Hockey Moms Step 12: Be Safe
It is easy to let the thrill of holiday shopping get the better of us, but don’t let it distract you too much. Keep up a reasonable level of situational awareness. There are plenty of thieves, scammers, and worse prowling about. Always pay attention to what is going on, and keep your money close at hand, and don’t flash it around. This is even more important when shopping out of town. You may not know these places as well as the ones at home. Just because a mall or shopping center looks nice doesn’t mean it’s one street over from a bad neighborhood.
Once we get the goods from the stores, we still have to get it all home. Fitting everything into our SUVs or minivans isn’t the problem. Well, maybe it is, depending on how crazy we went with the credit card.
What has to be stopped is our kids seeing all the presents we got them for Christmas. After all, isn’t half the fun of the holidays seeing our spawn writhe and squirm begging to know what is wrapped up under the tree? It’s the closest thing we have to pay back until we can tell our future grandkids all the things we wish our parents never told our kids.
Here are some ways to run interference. If there is enough time between the end of the war/ Black Friday shopping and the start of the game, we can get the presents wrapped. One mom can wrangle the kids, while the others work.
After one mom is finished wrapping the presents, rotate out with the moms pulling kid duty. There isn’t always going to be enough time though.
There’s a simple fix though. Trade shopping bags with the other moms. Whatever presents you got for your kid will be in another vehicle, and you can swap them back when you get home.
Then there is always the final option. Just let your kid know that you will go full hockey mom on them if they dare look in the shopping bag. That will keep them in line.
Got more Black Friday shopping tips, feel free to share in the comments.
And, don’t forget to join our Facebook Group, Hockey Mom Hack. We are a group of like-minded hockey moms sharing ideas.