Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

“Thank you for your business”

What a week of contrasts — thankfulness and greed. Just hours after we finished our Thanksgiving meal with family and gave thanks to all we have in our lives, people lined up to rush into stores to grab a good deal. Some people fought to get what they wanted. Thanksgiving has become Black Friday or Gray Thursday. Whatever you call it, corporate greed and survival is the focus on a day we’re supposed to be reflective and thankful for what we have.

Black Friday camper.

You can’t just blame the stores. Shoppers are so desperate to gobble up the doors they line up a week early.

This holiday, the stakes are higher than ever. Stores are desperate to pad their bottom line, as Internet businesses are making it tough for retail stores to keep their doors open. I think some retailers will disappear before the next shopping season if their sales are not good. Stores have all sorts of gimmicks and promotions to get you to shop like Thanksgiving day doorbusters and price matching policies even for Internet stores and prices. That’s an unprecedented move as retailers are desperate to keep their doors open.

Gordon Square. Cleveland, OH

It’s not just corporations looking to keep their doors open, but small businesses as well. The mom and pop stores of the world. The ones opened by your neighbors who live in your community and support it when their business thrives. Saturday, the corporate credit card company American Express, is promoting “Small Business Saturday.”

It’s a way to get you to support your local business. The ones that are the framework of your community. For every $25 you spend at a participating AmEx small business, you’ll get a $25 statement credit. It’s a free $25. A nice incentive to support your local stores.

I stopped in a few the other day, and I must say it opened my eyes to the unique gifts and good people behind these storefronts that I buzz by every day. You really can find gifts you won’t find anywhere else. You may pay a bit more for your gift, but you get so much more.

Service anyone? When was the  last time you got service at a store? It’s a rarity at a big business. Free gift wrap and packaging? It’s just part of the standard package at a small business. Check one out this weekend. I think you’ll be surprised.

I got a surprise from a local business this week — unrelated to holiday shopping. I needed three tire valve caps to keep the air pressure in our tires. I went to Lakefront Automotive Parts in Cleveland to pick up the caps. I like walking in there because the staff is friendly and always willing to help you find what you need. You’re in and out in less than five minutes and get service with a smile.

The salesman told me they didn’t sell just three caps. They came in a packet of 100. I was willing to accept it and go someplace else. Then, he grabbed the package off the shelf. He opened it up and handed me three. He said, “We’ll get you next time. Have a great day.”

I offered to pay and he refused. The cost  would have been less than a $1, but it didn’t matter. It was the gesture that will remain in my mind. He went out of his way to make sure I was a satisfied customer. It’s something you hardly get anymore. Such a small thing, but it left a big impression on me. It’s the small things in life that leave the most lasting impressions.

Don’t forget to Shop a store this holiday that truly is thankful for your business.

Sorting through all the Black Friday ads

GottaDeal Black Friday savings chart

All the ads have leaked over the last few weeks, and this year some retailers are posting their own ads online so you’ll go their site rather than the sites that leak them. Keeping all the discounts straight can get confusing. If you’re on the hunt for something specific, check out the savings chart on GottaDeal.The deal saving site breaks down the discounts into categories. For example, if you’re interested in a new TV, you select TV from the dropdown box. Then, you’ll see a listing of all the brands and deals. Continue reading

Survival guide to Black Friday week

Black Friday shoppers rush into Best Buy 2010

The much anticipated Thanksgiving week has arrived. Get the aspirin ready if you’re travelling or planning to shop. Put the scale away and get the beer ready if you’re planning to be lazy and watch some football and eat. Don’t expect the hype over the shopping season to end next week. There’s a lot at stake this year for retailers, so  there will be sales throughout the season.

While we typically think of Black Friday as the shopping day after Thanksgiving, the unofficial holiday is getting redefined. Call the new shopping deals on Thursday whatever you want — Gray Thursday, Black Friday Creep, or Black Thursday.  No matter what you call all these deals, here’s a shopping survival guide:

1. Black Friday is really a week or month-long tradition
Much of the focus is on the Thanksgiving Day sales, but really they start Monday. Many retailers will tempt you with deals leading up to Black Friday aka Thanksgiving, so be on the lookout.

2. Don’t just line up – log in
Just as many amazing deals will be offered online as in the store. If you’re like me and hate the crowds and lines, just log into your computer. Start on Monday and keep looking. The deals online will last throughout the season, but they’ll be big especially this next week culminating with Cyber Monday a week from today.  Don’t forget to check Thanksgiving morning. That’s when many dealhounds grab their discounts.

If you shop online, log into Ebates first so you can earn cash while shopping. Click here to read more about earning money while you shop

3. Expect surprises at Walmart
Protests are planned at more than 1,000 Walmart stores. While it doesn’t appear any are planned in Cleveland at this time, that could change. There is one planned in Cincinnati.

Even if there’s not an organized protest, there may be chaos in the aisles. That’s another tactic being used by some protesters.

I don’t expect massive disruptions across the board, but the protests seem to be gaining momentum so I think there will be some disruption to service at some stores. I don’t think you need to rearrange your shopping plans because of this, but just expect a surprise or two at Walmart. Who knows what’s going to happen.

4. Skip Gray Thursday shopping and shop early Friday morning
I think the turnout for Gray Thursday shopping will be bigger than ever. It’s much easier for customers to shop at 8 PM rather than 4 AM. With the Thanksgiving night shopping, nobody is fighting the alarm clock. People typically relax and eat on Thanksgiving, so by 8 PM people will want to do something and get away from the relatives. I expect big lines on Turkey night and people will shop til they drop.

By 2 or 3 AM, I think the shopping will taper off as people get tired and go home to sleep having spent thousands of dollars already. I think the best time to shop will be between 3 AM and 10 AM. If you don’t want to get up in the middle of the night, hit the stores at 7 AM. That’s a reasonable hour. You’ll have at least three hours to yourself to put a dent in your shopping.

Of course, if you wait you miss out on the doorbusters. Some stores are not even opening until 5 or 6 AM on Black Friday so you may still cash in on deals depending on what you are looking for this holiday.

5. Avoid Best Buy and Walmart if you don’t like lines
A sleeper in all of this holiday mayhem may be Target. The store opens an hour after Toys “R” Us and Walmart which may keep the lines short. Typically, I don’t see people lining up at this store. I think that will be the same this year because shopping begins an hour earlier at other retailers. People will be waiting in line or grabbing their deals at Walmart and Toys “R” Us when Target opens meaning it could provide a stress free shopping experience for you.

Black Friday Creep – what do you think of stores opening at 8 PM Thanksgiving?

Most of the Black Friday ads are out. Some were leaked. This year, some retailers just released them on their own site avoiding the leak mania. Walmart and Target have the full ad on their site. The theme: the stories are opening earlier than ever turning Black Friday into Black Friday Creep or Gray Thursday.

The unofficial start to the holiday season is no longer just a day. Many sales start Monday online with retailers trying to maximize the number of days they can get your attention.

There were online protests last year as stores opened late on Thanksgiving, but obviously those online petitions did little to sway the retailers. This year they are opening four hours before Friday. Many of the big retailers are opening at 8 PM on Thanksgiving. Target at 9 PM and Best Buy at midnight. These early opening times are sparking more heated debate this year, and even a proposed strike by Walmart employees.

The stores say they are opening early to meet demand. 8 PM is a convenient time. It’s a lot easier to shop at that time than getting up at 3 AM to start your shopping. I expect people will shop til they drop which will about 3 AM. The time they were getting up when Black Friday really was Black Friday.

Experts think these trends will continue unless there really is a strike by Walmart. It would take something big to stop the holiday creep.

What do you think of the early start times for holiday shopping? Click comment below.

Free turkey coupon may be counterfeit

The cost of Thanksgiving dinner is up, so a coupon for a free Honeysuckle White Turkey might sound tempting. However, the Coupon Information Corporation says the coupon may be fraudulent. The CIC says the counterfeit coupons have been sold on on the Internet and eBay. The fake coupon looks like the real one issued by Cargill.

Here’s a look at the coupons side by side – – can you tell the difference?

The first one is counterfeit. The coupon legally expired 4/30/2011 and doesn’t expire 4/30/12 as the coupon indicates. CIC knows this because of the code above the coupon, 11608. It’s the old coupon with counterfeits simply changing the date.

THe new coupon code is 116553.  To prevent fraud,coupon manufacturers  stack the UPC codes as you see above. You can also tell if you have the legitimate one because it will have a perforated edge at the top.

Counterfeit coupons are a big problem. In general, selling and buying coupons on eBay is frowned upon. The coupons say they are void if transferred or sold, but the buying and selling exists online with little enforcement action.

Related links you may like:

Couponers holding stockpile sales

Selling coupons on eBay

Black Friday shopping game-changer

Black Friday shoppers rush into Best Buy 2010

As a consumer reporter, Black Friday is a big day. It kicks off the holiday shopping season, and means I have to rise in the middle of the night to bring you money saving tips on the morning show when stores open for Black Friday.

People sleeping in tents for days to cash in on big shopping savings is the story of the day every Thanksgiving. A few years ago, a few stores changed the game by opening on Thanskgiving. Plus, outlet stores and some outdoor shopping centers began opening at midnight. While this was a big shift, the big retailers were still holding to the Black Friday ritual opening around 5 A.M.

Then, a few big retailers opened their doors before 5 A.M. some at 4 and others even earlier. I remember thinking of how odd it was to see shoppers coming and going from Target at 4:30 in the morning on my way to a live shot across the street at Best Buy. There, shoppers were standing outside waiting for their chance to get inside. I asked a lot of the Best Buy shoppers if the early opening of stores like Target impacted their shopping strategy. Most said no, because the majority of stores still weren’t opening earlier.

This year, the game is changing. Big name stores are jumping on the midnight bandwagon. Every week a new one joins, including the quintessential Black Friday store — Best Buy. It changes the game for shoppers and for reporters. By 4:30 A.M. when our news starts, I think parking lots will be empty. People will be home in bed. The stores should open at midnight, and then close around 3 A.M. and reopen around 7 or 8 A.M.

It’s an interesting marketing tactic in a year when the economy is shaky. Stores need to attract more shoppers and this might do it. The thought of getting up in the middle of the night is no longer a concern — you just have to stay out a few hours past your bedtime. That’s a lot easier to do.

Just don’t let the hype influence your buying decisions. The stores are already advertising deals and special promotions like Super Saturday this past weekend. If you have a smartphone, use it to scan bar codes to make sure you’re really getting the best deal. If you can, compare prices before you shop because some stores are offering to price match online deals.

Saving money and creating a shopping strategy will help you save this holiday season. Start planning now. Ads are already being leaked. That doesn’t mean you’ll definitely find that deal, but the ads usually are pretty close to what’s leaked. Also, if you know you’re going to shop a certain store like their Facebook page. Stores like Walmart are offering sneak peaks at Black Friday deals if you follow their Facebook page.

Join the conversation. What do you think about stores kicking off Black Friday at midnight?

Black friday deal alerts

Black Friday is still weeks away, but the buzz is already beginning about this year’s deals. The mania is expected to transfer online this year, as people surf for a steal online instead of dealing with in-store craziness at 4 A.M.

You can stay up to date on your favorite retailer’s Black Friday deals with alerts from Black Friday websites. Black Friday Online claims to have some of the ads already.

To join the craziness — click here for a Black Friday Info site and Black Friday Online.

These sites will aggregate the deals. It’s always a good idea to make sure you’re really getting a bargain. Search Google, or use Shopzilla or another price comparison site.

Also, make sure it really is a deal with the shipping and handling fees. Sometimes, especially on bigger and heavier items this may add $10-15 to the price of an item and may not make it such a deal.

Make sure you check the retailer’s return policy. Can you return the item in-store if there is a problem or will you have to pay shipping fees again?

Don’t forget about the free shipping day. It’s long after Black Friday, and really just for last minute gift buying. Many retailers participate in this day on Friday, December 17th. Click here to see a list of participating retailers.