This year was my last year of driving into Grove City for Black Friday shopping. The dollar just doesn’t make it worth it anymore and I have zero desire to spend all my hard earned money in a Trump-run America! This year was very different then past years. I started this tradition going with my boyfriend at the time. Alvin and I would shop for hours on end until he was literally dragging me back to the car – me a little delirious. After we broke up, I went with my sister-in-law Tammy and my best friend Kristi. We also shopped until we literally dropped, laughing the whole time and having a great time! After that Tammy and I went, just the two of us together having sister bonding time for the past 4 years. This year, Tammy could not make it and I had the option of not going or going alone. I am independent, I like my own company, so I packed the car and headed south to border! I did the 48 hour trip (Thursday-Saturday) with just me, my camera and my wallet and I had an amazing time! I did all the usual things in the usual order, just alone and I was completely okay with that! This being my last year, I feel like I have perfected the art of the successful Black Friday trip and now that it is over, I am going to share all my tips with you!
- ALWAYS BOOK YOU HOTEL MONTHS IN ADVANCE:
Hotels book up really quick for Black Friday, especially the ones within walking distance of the outlet. I have always started looking around the end of February/beginning of March and I usually spend around $100-$120/night (remember this is America’s Thanksgiving, prices are inflated) at the Best Western that is right across the street from the outlet. I also always request a room close to an entrance. You don’t want to be dragging all those bags and luggage’s up stairs or down long hallways. Save your strength, you will be exhausted by the time you finish shopping and will not want to carry all those bags any further than you already have. You can risk booking later, but I have tried again in July/August to find nothing available. The earlier you book the better – trust me!
- PLAN EVERYTHING:
Because I know I am going to the outlet, I print off a directory and start highlighting stores I need to hit and stores I wouldn’t mind hitting up if I have time. I also write out my Christmas list and start thinking about stores that will have what I need. I go to the bank and get my American money (which is the heart breaking part) and put it in a separate wallet with my passport and shopping list. I pack very lightly with layers because I don’t want to wear a heavy coat when the weather has never been THAT bad that I regretted not having that coat with me. I check and double check everything because I would hate to be in the States missing something. I also make sure to get the addresses for everywhere I plan on going and writing them down. I have a GPS and my phone GPS as back up – getting lost is NOT an option.
- AGREE WITH YOUR TRAVELING PARTNER WHAT YOUR PLANS ARE
Thankfully my sister-in-law is a good follower. She kind of lets me lead and goes where I go and does what I want to do. I drive which makes it easy for me! I can’t imagine if I went with someone who wanted to go somewhere totally off plan that I did not want to go to and did not want to drive to. There isn’t that much around Grove City, so adding on the cost of gas to go somewhere off plan would drive me (personally) nuts. The more flexible you are, the better!
- LEAVE EARLY
I always leave the city by 9:30 at the latest. I get gas the night before and head out on the planned route. I always stop by Tim Hortons and grab a tea by my house and I stop in Niagara (usually around 11:30 at this point) to grab lunch (Wendy’s- junior cheeseburger) and a bathroom break. I make it to the border around noon and I have never had more than 5 cars in front of me thanks to leaving at the right time! I stop again in Angola NY on the hwy I-90 for another bathroom break and usually buy a bottle of water (yes this doesn’t help my bathroom breaks, but I get so dehydrated from driving so long). My next stop is my hotel in Grove City! I arrive between 2:30-3:00 with enough time to prepare, nap and watch some TV! The outlets opened at 6:00 pm this year – I went at 5:30 and sat in my car because I wanted a good parking spot so I would be able to dump my bags (see next bullet) without walking so far.
- BRING A LARGE SUITCASE LADIES
Who wants to be stuck carrying bags (especially me who buys a lot)? I bring a large empty suitcase that has wheels and when I buy something I put the bag in the suitcase – VOILA! No bags to carry. I just roll my suitcase around, making sure to not run into anyone. After I have a full suitcase I go to my car and empty the bags into the trunk and start all over again. Once I have finished half the outlet, I drive to a different spot and continue my routine.
- EAT AND DRINK
I always start off at the food court. I eat an Arbys roast beef sandwich with a pop to drink to give me a sugar/carb boost. I also buy a bottle of water to carry around because Lord knows I will get thirsty shopping.
- TAKE YOUR TIME
Don’t rush. I don’t go to the box stores because the idea of rushing and pushing and fighting isn’t appealing. I have never seen this happen at the outlets. People stroll. They walk in and out of stores, they are polite even, holding doors, stepping aside for people to pass, and I try and lead by example. I am patient. This is not a time to be inpatient. If you are, you will work yourself up and be stressed. You have planned and prepared, don’t ruin it now.
- GET A GOOD NIGHT SLEEP
I shop from 6:00 until about 10:00-10:30. I am back to my hotel by 11:00 and asleep shortly afterwards. You have another full day of driving and shopping ahead of you – why stay up when you really don’t need to.
- TAKE INVENTORY OF WHAT YOU HAVE BOUGHT
When I get back to my hotel, I empty my bags, collect all the receipts and put everything I have bought into piles, one pile for each person I have shopped for and one pile of things I have bought myself. The things I have bought myself I pack into my suitcase and everything else I write down. I check off that list I packed and see if there is anything else I NEED to buy. My goal is to always my needs completed the first night so the next day can be the fun stuff, the one-offs.
The next day you are going to start all over again, but by following the above points, you should have an ideal second day of shopping. Take your time, have a plan, make sure to eat and drink enough to keep your energy up. Black Friday shopping can be an adventure – it can be fun! You can find some great deals IF you are prepared and take your time.
Anything else you want to know? Send me your questions, I will answer each one!
It was a great decade of Christmas shopping, now I will have to do it in Canada – most likely online – I hate malls!
Enjoy my dears!