The holidays come early for savvy shoppers who are ready to tackle the stores on Black Friday. But for the rest of us, the mere thought of elbowing past crowds before the sun rises — the day after eating our Thanksgiving repast, napping on the couch, and watching football, no less — couldn’t be lower on our to-do list.
Thanks to the rise of online shopping, and some stores shifting their opening hours to Thanksgiving night itself, most shoppers won’t experience the bone-crushing free-for-all of past Black Fridays. But still, it wouldn’t hurt to arm yourself with some handy tips (and a handful of collapsible shopping bags).
Kathy Kalafut, a Westchester stylist with plenty of personal-shopping experience, says the key to success is preparation and communication.
“Develop a relationship with a sales associate at your favorite department store,” Kalafut suggests. “They can set something aside for you so it doesn’t get sold, and ring it up on sale day. Also, when you make your purchase, don’t forget to ask if there are any other discounts. Sometimes associates have coupons behind the counter that you may not have seen.”
If you’re shopping for a present, make sure your purchase is still eligible for returns and exchanges after the holidays, Kalafut adds. Finally, think carefully before shopping on the day of Thanksgiving: “Not all the sales associates are there by choice, but as long as there is demand, stores will continue to open then.”
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Orange County’s Central Valley are among the stores that will be open on Thanksgiving Day, beginning at 9 a.m. and remaining open until 10 p.m. on Black Friday. As you would expect, Black Friday is one of their busiest shopping days, confirms Stephanie Johnson, Regional Vice President of Marketing – East Region at Simon Property Group.
But busy doesn’t have to mean torturous. The Outlets’ multimillion-dollar, three-year renovation, which was completed in May, will certainly help make the shopping experience more enjoyable. “Shoppers will see new landscaping, walkways, signage and outdoor seating,” says Johnson. The all-new 1,000-seat Market Hall dining destination also has a TV lounge and plenty of outlets for charging your devices. Other enhancements include free Wi-Fi across the entire property and a smart parking garage indicating to shoppers where spaces are available. As far as food, there have been 14 new eateries added over the course of the renovation, including fan favorites Shake Shack and Magnolia Bakery, plus Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian-based bakery-restaurant serving organic and local ingredients.
In addition, kids can scramble around the renovated playground in the Saratoga area, and adults can grab a drink at the new Black Dirt Bourbon Barn, which carries products from Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery. Tired feet can get a break by hopping on the trolley that operates on the outlets’ interior roads on the weekends.
And the knowledge that your holiday list is checked off, well before the first snowflake falls, makes it all worth it.