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Seven ways to escape the Black Friday shopping experience
Ahhh, Black Friday. Those that love it are die-hard shoppers, those that hate it would rather stick their arm in a blender than experience being crushed while trying to grab a discounted laptop out of the hands of killer bargain hunters.
Me? I'm firmly in the group that loves the idea of staying up all night to grab discounts that really make it barely worth the hassles. Still, there is something oddly comforting about waiting in line for two hours to save three Dollars off a board game. Black Friday is when the Holiday season officially kicks off - and is when 140 million Americans grab their credit cards and spend whatever they can on whatever they don't really need.
Here are seven ways you can escape (parts of) the Black Friday experience.
If you live in a cold state and want to shop in the warmth on Black Friday, then you'll either need to dress warmly or fly somewhere warmer. Standing in line in the freezing cold starts off quite nicely when everyone is in a good mood, but once things dip into the 20's, people get cranky really fast. Hot cocoa only goes so far when the wind is brutally cold.
Alternatively, find the largest indoor mall in the area, park your car outside while you watch the crowds shiver in the arctic temperatures. Then, when the mall opens its doors, wait for everyone to walk inside and slowly join the end of the line. Chances are most of the deals will still be around, and you'll stay toasty warm and comfortable.
Escape sales tax
Planning to do a lot of shopping for big ticket items? Consider making the trek to one of the five remaining states in the country with no sales tax. Those states are:
- New Hampshire
Escape being sane
Lets make a checklist for this one - one lawn chair per person, one portable toilet, soft drinks, snacks, phone backup charger cord, music, spare batteries and a total lack of respect for yourself.
This is of course the checklist for the 5AM shopper. And no - not 5AM on Friday - 5AM on Thursday. You'll be the person I see waiting outside Best Buy when I'm driving to relatives for Thanksgiving Dinner. To you, saving money on a new laptop or TV is more important than turkey and stuffing. And to be honest, given how some family dinners can be, who's to blame you.
Doorbuster deals can indeed really be worth it. The only thing that can spoil a 19 hour wait in line is snow, rain and people who try and jump the line when the store doors open. Before Black Friday, always ask the store in question what their line policy is, when staff will be present to control lines, and whether they hand out tickets hours before opening. Also be sure to check store inventory, because showing up as number 150 at a store with just 40 laptop is a colossal waste of time.
Escape jail time
There are many ways you can get in trouble on Black Friday - spending too much and maxing out your credit card is just one of them. If you really want to avoid finding yourself facing some real trouble, don't jump the lines, don't push store staff members and don't yell at checkout clerks.
Remember, if you think Black Friday is a hassle for you, consider what a hell it is for people that have to work this time of year. My motto is that Black Friday needs to be fun - yes, waiting in line can be a bit of a bore, and once store doors open, everyone is fighting for themselves, but that doesn't mean you need to behave like a jerk.
Introduce yourself to your fellow shoppers in line, chat about what they think the good deals are, and make sure you have a good time. Because quite frankly, if it turns nasty - the fun is gone, and I'm going to head home for some sleep.
Escape the crowds
You really think there is anywhere with no crowds? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but even the smallest places in the nation with one Wal-Mart for the entire community will have its fair share of crowds.
The best kept secret about Black Friday deals is that most of the same deals will pop up again between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Granted, the real doorbusters may not be as cheap - but if you are like me, you probably don't mind spending $25 more if it means saving a trip to the hospital, or watching someone get crushed by an angry mob.
Escape it all
If you are one of the members of the "I hate Black Friday" crowd, then you can stay inside all day and watch TV news reports of injured shoppers, or you can get away from it all and check into a hotel. While everyone is busy finding Zhu Zhu pets (or whatever is in this year), you can enjoy the hotel pool, order room service and get yourself pampered.
If your budget is a bit more flexible, picture yourself on a Hawaiian beach on Black Friday, or sipping cocktails on a cruise ship.
Escape the heat
I can't really see anyone actually in a warm climate wanting to do their Black Friday shopping in the cold, but if you want to get in the Holiday spirit with a nice case of the flu, then you can leave your warm climate and head to one of these fine cold climate malls:
Gurnee Mills, Gurnee, IL
This massive mall is located about 30 minutes up the highway from O'Hare international airport. The mall is surrounded by several cheap hotels, and is home to over 200 stores. The mail itself is indoors, so warm climate visitors won't feel too chilly. The doors open at 5AM on Black Friday and stay open till 10PM. About 20 minutes from Gurnee Mills are the Pleasant Prairie Prime Outlets - stores here open at midnight on Black Friday!
The Mall of America, Bloomington, MN
This is the king of all megamalls - with over 500 stores and a huge amount of food outlets, a theme park, a theater, an aquarium and more - this is where you can shop, and those deal haters you've dragged along can entertain themselves on their own. Stores here open at 6AM on Black Friday, but be prepared to encounter an absolute zoo when it comes to parking.
Tysons Corner Mall, McLean, VA
Tysons Corner mall may ring a bell if you are an Apple fan - this is where the first Apple Store in the world opened its doors. If you are not a fan of gadgets, you'll be happy to know that the mall is also home to your usual lineup of luxury department stores. Doors open at midnight and stores stay open till 10PM.
[Photos from: Getty Images, Mall of America photo: Flickr/puroticorico]