Meet the Super Shopper: Susan Karagjozi
Hometown: Middle Island
How long have you been shopping on Black Friday? At least 15 years!
What is your Black Friday mantra? We will find it and get it! (For the price we want!!)
Describe your Black Friday 2013 plans. My Black Friday shopping-event only occurs if my sister Pamela is with me. We have been shopping together for more than 15 years and will Black Friday shop until we can no longer move. Our morning begins like this: My sister and I head out around 2 a.m. -- in our Santa hats, Christmas bells, holiday earrings and Black Friday shirts -- and ALWAYS stop at 7-11 for our first cup of hot chocolate of the season and we buy one holiday scratch-off lotto ticket each (the goal is to win the money back that we are going to spend on Black Friday). We usually start at Kohl's then head to Walmart, Target, Home Depot, JCPenney, Macy's, Sears, Lowe's, Best Buy, Marshalls, Ace Hardware and then onto the Riverhead outlets.
What is the best Black Friday deal you've ever scored? Cost-speaking, in 2007 a Sony TV for $699, originally $1,900. "Hot item" speaking, Wii and Wii Fit for $129.99 with two games and all extras.
What is your budget this year? $1,000-2,000 depending on what I see.
Who and what are you shopping for? I am shopping for myself, my son (18 months), husband, sisters, brother, parents, in-laws, nieces and nephews! I will be looking for toys, small kitchen appliances, clothes, electronics and tools.
What is your shopping strategy, and how do you prepare for Black Friday? We prepare for Black Friday a long time in advance. In fact, sometimes we keep the ads from the previous year to price compare for the current year. The hard work all begins usually the second week in September. I begin by creating three spreadsheets. One list sorts stores (about 50 stores) first alphabetically then by start times, then by door buster item times, then by closing times. The second list sorts stores by opening times, then alphabetically, then door buster items, and the third list has our most commonly shopped stores first then decreases in necessity. We order Black Friday shirts online and I usually try to print the major ads off the Internet and have them handy ASAP. Our game-day strategy begins like this: After Thanksgiving dinner and during dessert, my sister, myself, my sister-in-law, and three cousins sit down and review the hard copy ads for the next day. We circle items in Sharpie markers so we know what we are looking for when we go out. We plan out what time we are going to start (usually 2 a.m. on Black Friday), where we are going to start, what we are going to get, how long it takes to go from store to store, where to end up and when to grab something to eat.
What tips do you have for others trying to score deals on Black Friday? Stay home on Thanksgiving; enter stores 10 minutes after the opening times (so you can walk right in), look behind counters for items that have not been restocked yet, check the throwback carts throughout the store, go to the pallets in the back of the store by receiving (especially in the afternoon) in case they haven't had a chance to put them on the floor, always carry your phone and use the scanner app to locate stores in the area that sell that product and their asking price, look in luggage (because people pre-shop and try to hide items in luggage so its guaranteed for them to get on BF), always price match other stores, always ask for further discounts (AAA, teacher, military etc.), never be afraid to ask to speak to the manager about a product, try to find an employee in a different section to help look for an item for you, pay for items in Customer Service or Jewelry to avoid large lines, check the Post Friday ads to get a price adjustment on items bought on Black Friday (a lot of items are cheaper after Black Friday), do a walk-through of the stores two days before and speak to employees to find out where the "gotta have items" are going to be located so you have a heads up on where to go, highlight key items in the circulars, and travel in groups so there is a better chance of getting the item you want before it sells out.
What are some common mistakes to avoid on Black Friday? Some common mistakes are not being prepared, waiting on line for hours, running to the electronics section first, accepting the price as an "as-is" price and not haggling for other discounts, going alone, getting aggravated throughout the day, being nasty to employees and other shoppers, and not checking the post Black Friday ads for cheaper prices.