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Published November 21 2012

Think you have a game plan for Black Friday? Consider these audibles

Sears at 8, Target at 9, Wal-Mart at 10. Fill up on coffee, grab some food, then hit Best Buy, Kohl’s or the mall before the stores open at midnight.

Ready, set, shop.

Long gone are the days when all stores opened at or near the same time on Black Friday morning, when people could look forward to a simple, if crowded, shopping experience.

Now more stores than ever are opening on Thanksgiving night (much to the chagrin of employees), further blurring the line between holiday and shopping day.

For example, Sears and Target will open at 8 and 9 tonight, respectively, preceding Wal-Mart’s doorbusters start at 10 p.m.

Beyond that, Best Buy and Kohl’s join more than 70 stores in the West Acres Shopping Center (a huge spike from 34 last year) in opening by midnight.

Others, like Menards at 5 a.m. and Scheels at 7 a.m., open at staggered hours – as some might call “normal” – on Friday morning.

As an example of how much the day’s mentality has changed just in the last few years, West Acres Marketing Director Alissa Sorum says there weren’t any midnight openings at the mall before 2009.

There were eight stores that opened at the midnight hour that year, and more have since followed their lead.

“We saw that grow again last year, and even more this year,” she says.

‘Like planning a strategy’

For many Fargo-Moorhead residents, planning is partly the fun of the whole day. That’s how it is for Stephanie Hansen of Fargo, who says that she and her family start looking ahead to Black Friday as early as October.

On Wednesday, Hansen planned to drive to southwestern Minnesota, where her family lives. After the Thanksgiving meal today, she’ll turn around and head to Fargo with her mom and sister.

Then the planning started.

“We analyze who needs what, where our first stop will be, and often what restaurant will refuel us for lunch – and supper –on Black Friday,” she says.

This year, Hansen and her family have had to rethink their strategies.

“With the deals beginning as soon as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, we have had to tweak our plans the last couple of years,” she says.

Like Hansen, Pam Perleberg of Fargo joins her family in Jamestown for Thanksgiving, where they draw up their plan of attack for the next day.

“After the meal on Thursday, the papers get spread out all over the floor,” she says. “It’s like planning a strategy.”

Perleberg and her family try to stagger their shopping destinations based on opening times, hitting the earliest first.

But it’s not just the opening times that shoppers like Perleberg and Hansen plan for. They also have to seek out and factor in this year’s big sales (and as always, there are many).

“We plan it by the door busters, too,” Perleberg says. “It’s all about the strategy, according to the openings and the doorbusters.”

For Hansen, Perleberg and many others, the Black Friday experience isn’t necessarily just about the deals, no matter how good. Rather, it’s also about the memories of something that turns into a family tradition of sorts.

“Typically, it’s not about the super deals we may encounter, but the overall experience of having us three girls together for one full day of uninterrupted holiday cheer, bonding time and a bit of shopping,” Hansen says.

It’s no secret that Black Friday’s not for everyone, though. Some people take a very different approach to the day: Stay as far away from it as possible.

Jenny Faure of Valley City, N.D., and her two daughters shopped Black Friday in Fargo last year for the first time and don’t plan a repeat experience.

“We saw everything from people hoarding cheap DVDs at Wal-Mart to people sprinting down the aisles in Best Buy,” she says.

Santa Claus, meanwhile, also has a plan for Black Friday. Like many shoppers, he’ll be getting going at 10:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, when he takes his position in West Acres’ Center Court, where he’ll be until Friday, according to Sorum.

“He’ll be here all night,” she says.

Perhaps more than anything else, Santa’s unusual day and night is an indication of just how different Black Friday this year is from years past.

As of press time, the Big Man was presumably busy preparing for the season and could not be reached for comment.

Deals and steals

Don’t feel up to sifting through the many pounds of Black Friday ads? Here’s some help for your shopping game plan.

Best Buy:

• Toshiba 40-inch LCD TV, $179.99, on sale from $419.99

• DVDs as low as $1.99

Kohls:

• ¼ ct. T.W. diamond bangles; $62.49, on sale from $200

• Entertainment projector, early bird special for $49.99, regular $129.99

Wal-Mart:

• iPad 2 for $399, plus receive a $75 gift card

Sears:

• Kenmore 27-cubic-foot refrigerator, early bird special $1,299.99, regular $2,299.99

• Courtland 7.5-foot billiard table with bonus cue rack, $249.99, 50 percent off

• Samsung 55-inch LED TV for $879.99, a savings of $520

Menards:

• Westinghouse 32-inch LED TV, $127

• Executive fire safe with 36-gun capacity, on sale for $499, a savings of $500

Target:

• Nook Simple Touch e-Reader, $49.99, on sale from $99.99

Black Friday scavenger hunt

Black Friday. While some can’t wait for it, others simply dread the experience.

The crowds and lines at the malls and big-box stores can be downright overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting dragged along by your spouse or significant other.

So to help you stay sane during shopping rush, we’ve made a scavenger hunt of things to look for. Some you’re likely to see around town today, while others might be a little harder to find.

Good luck!

Easy:

• A display that has been completely picked over

• A crying child

• Someone arguing with a store official

• A line that stretches all the way around the outside of a building

Medium:

• Someone who’s fallen asleep on a chair in the mall

• Two or more shoppers getting in a verbal altercation

• A crying adult

• A shopper going out of their way to do something nice for another shopper

• Someone sprinting through a store to get to a display or deal

Difficult:

• Something discounted more than 90 percent

• Someone who’s fallen asleep on a bed display

• Two or more shoppers getting in a fistfight


Fill us in

Are you going out on Black Friday? What are you looking for, and where can you find the best deals? We want your shopping advice and we want to hear how you, and your family spend the day. Email your stories to tracy.briggs@

forumcomm.com, and she’ll post your story to The Forum’s Black Friday blog.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535