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Brooke’s Bargains: Black Friday … Already?

Plan Ahead For The Best Bargains
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Written by Brooke WagnerDENVER (CBS4) – It’s already time to start thinking about Black Friday again. Can you believe it? This year the day will be more important than ever to retailers and consumers, alike.

Stores need to make up the sales and consumers need the deals. For many people Black Friday may be the only time when a new TV or special Christmas gift is affordable. Personally, I don’t love to brave the crowds, though I know there are folks who enjoy the shopping rush and look forward to it every year.

Here’s what’s in my Black Friday arsenal:

The week before Black Friday you can search the store name with “Black Friday, 2011″ and likely find a preview of the ad with Black Friday deals. Please note — some retailers authorize the leaks, others don’t.

Hundreds of e-retailers will be offering free shipping and often the deals start online on Thanksgiving or at midnight — so I like to fill my cart with the items on my wish list before the sale, so I’m ready to check out before the stock diminishes. On a side note, Cyber Week starts the Monday after Black Friday and Free Shipping Day, web-wide, is Dec. 16. Thousands of e-retailers will be on board for those.

Now for the reason many of us brave the packed parking lots, pushing and shoving on Black Friday — door busters! Some deals are only in-store and you’ll just have to go early if you’re set on one of those. It should be written in the fine print of the store’s circular.

But I have been able to buy door busters at stores like Walmart.com, Gymboree.com, and OldNavy.com starting on Thanksgiving online — with free shipping — avoiding going out all together.

Plus, you get the best inventory this way. That’s where searching the Black Friday ads in advance comes in handy and you can find the item online first. Try logging on right around midnight Eastern time, or at the same time the brick-and-mortar store opens on Black Friday.

Another option for avoiding the crowds — head off the beaten path. I’ve found some great Black Friday deals at Walgreens, Rite Aid, Bath and Body Works, and Amazon.com, without fighting a big crowd.

One last thing to think about — remember that some stores do suspend price matching for Black Friday, so read the fine print for the best bargain.

On a side note, if you’re starting your holiday toy shopping – Target, Walmart and Amazon.com are already starting to compete. I’ve noticed their prices fluctuating to match the lowest of the group.

Amazon.com has free shipping when you spend $25 or more, Target with $50 or more of qualifying purchases, and Walmart has a new “Home Free” system in which you have to pick designated items to get free shipping (and there is a minimum amount), but many toys are still posted with 97 cent shipping, including many Lego sets.

Walmart has Lego bundles, by the way, in which you get the second item practically free – worth checking. Toys R Us has free shipping for $75 and up. The big toy book is out for the toy super store, and it’s also offering some freebies with purchase.

It’s fun to get two-for-one! On a recent Lego purchase, I bought $40 worth of Legos, got $10 off, and then received a $20 Lego toy and a $5 Lego Minifigure – all for $30!

So, toy deals to be had everywhere this season. Check prices against Amazon.com before you buy to see if you can get the same price with free shipping.

Happy November! I’d love to hear your tips in comments, too!

Don’t forget our CBS4 Deals of the Day, and please pass along your thrifty tips in the comments section! I’d love to hear from you.

About The Blogger

- In her Brooke’s Bargains blog Brooke Wagner writes about finding bargains and saving money for her family. She calls it one of her favorite hobbies. Blog entries cover everything from the latest steals, deals, and freebies to cheap family activities, saving for college, and what to buy right now.

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