You don't have to be crazy to hit the malls before dawn on Black Friday, but it doesn't hurt to be batty for bargains. And I'm guilty as charged.
I know from experience that some of the best deals of the season can be found the day after Thanksgiving, as well as some of the largest crowds. For many, it doesn't seem to matter what's on sale. Whether it's a big-screen TV or the last yo-yo on a shelf, people are serious about snagging a deal.
It's possible, in the thrill of the hunt, to forget that we may not even need any of this stuff - though surely somebody on our Christmas list will. And look at how much we're saving. The more we save, the more we spend. If that doesn't kick-start the economy, I don't know what will.
You might think that online shopping and 24-hour stores would take the glint off rising from a warm bed in the wee hours, but history would indicate otherwise. I've taken part in this ritual for a couple of decades now, and I've had plenty of company.
For the most part, these bleary-eyed, coffee-fueled shoppers are well-behaved, but I have seen a few elbows thrown, red lights ignored and stingy-guts who simply had to have the last 14 of an item.
If you've done it before, you know what to expect and how to prepare for this crash course in consumerism. If not, here are five things that will make your day a little easier.
1. Newspaper: Flip through the inserts Thursday to know what you want, where it's at and what time you need to be at the store to get it.
2. Alarm clock: If you roll out of bed at midday Friday, you can still shop, but those early-morning specials will be gone, baby, gone.
3. Shopping list: If you can remember what time a dozen stores open and what items you're shopping for at each one, then you are not middle-aged. I will have a shopping list to keep it all straight.
4. Sneakers: Remember that Hertz commercial from the 1970s that had O.J. Simpson running through an airport leaping over obstacles? Black Friday feels a little like that. A comfortable pair of shoes can carry the day.
5. Smile: If you can't manage a little Christmas spirit on Black Friday, then just stay home. Your fellow shoppers, not to mention the people on the other side of the cash register, will appreciate it.
Contact Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6281.