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Posted on Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 1:13 p.m.

Get your game plan ready for Black Friday

By Angela Smith

Sports enthusiasts look forward to the Olympics. Art lovers have the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

For bargain shoppers the event to plan for is called Black Friday.

It may seem a bit early to be starting your holiday shopping; after all most of us do not even have our Halloween costumes put away yet. But preparation is key on a day like this, especially in a year like this.

The deals and discounts on Black Friday are plentiful but only for those with a strategy.

Furthermore, budgets are tight this year, so making a plan and sticking to it is a crucial step in preventing overspending. So if you want to take advantage of what retailers call the biggest shopping day of the year, heed this advice:

Recruit friends and family

It takes a special comrade to join in on the door buster sales. Not every shopper is cut out for the job. One year when I was pregnant, I sent my husband to Arborland for a 6 a.m. sale. That will not happen again. The thrill of the hunt, the rush of the crowds and the conversations struck up in the long lines are all a part of the fun for me, but were a source of stress for him. So my sisters and girlfriends join me in my efforts these days. After the dishes are done on Thanksgiving, the ladies of the house peruse the ads together and divvy up stores in pursuit of the wish list items we hope to find. My girlfriends and I sometimes meet at 5 a.m. to go out on our quest together, or call frequently throughout the morning to keep tabs on each other. In recent years we have taken steps to reduce spending and gift giving, but the Black Friday Tradition is something we still bond over. These rituals have created a bunch of fun memories for us, and make shopping that much more the merrier.

Sign up at your favorite stores

Most local and big name stores have mailing lists and/or e-mail newsletters that are free to sign up for. In some cases enrolling will get you advance notice on secret sales, coupons, and giveaways for Black Friday. For example, Best Buy is offering a $1,000 gift card, a camcorder, and a limo to the store for early entry to its VIP contest winners. Enter the contest by writing an essay about what you are most excited about this Black Friday.

Read and other forums There are a number of blogs and Web sites, like, dedicated to leaking early information to help you prepare for your day of shopping. Some of these forums are a bit cumbersome, but most have useful information like ad scans, list making tools, and forums discussing the best deals. Keep’s Holiday09 page bookmarked, so you can check back to see where to find the latest information on Black Friday Sales from national and local retailers.