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How to survive Black Friday (without getting a black eye)

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Flickr via andrewarchy

Call me un-American, but Thanksgiving is overrated. Full turkeys take forever to cook, make you tired and are easily replaceable by Capriotti’s Bobbie sandwich, which is available year-round. I hate cranberry sauce, the consistency of most stuffing creeps me out, and don’t get me started on the word “cornucopia.”

But, my God, do I love shopping.

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Black Friday guide

For me, and millions of other shopaholics, the best part about this holiday week is the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. Known for offering deals worth tramping whatever Toys R Us employee is unfortunate enough to unlock the doors at midnight, Black Friday is a shopper’s paradise. On no other day is it acceptable to fight with old ladies over Dooney & Bourke handbags marked down 75 percent or browse the racks at Macy’s while still wearing your pajamas. It tests your social skills (“Excuse me, lady, I had my hand on this limited-edition Cabbage Patch doll first.”) as well as your math (“What’s 25 percent of $59.99?”). It’s more than your typical Sunday afternoon trip to the mall – it’s a time-honored tradition.

The Weekly caught up with Jim McMichael, the senior marketing manager at Fashion Show mall, to get some Black Friday shopping tips from someone who’s worked in retail for more than a dozen years, including five right here in Las Vegas.

1. Know your surroundings

Like knowing where the nearest emergency exit is, knowing the layout of your chosen shopping center will help your Black Friday excursion. “One of the things we encourage people to do before is visit one of the (mall’s) web sites, so they can re-familiarize themselves with the stores,” McMichael says. You may already know you want to hit up a Sears to snag one of their washer-dryer sets for $500, but consider researching what the smaller retailers surrounding the department store might have to offer. After all, the less you travel physically, the less you’ll have to lug back to your car. Plus, with the recession, there’s no guarantee your favorite shopping spot from last year is still around. So do your homework.

2. A List

According to McMichael, the savviest shoppers are ones who take a page from Santa’s book. Make a list. Check it twice. “The best shoppers know who they’re shopping for,” McMichael says. Sure, you may think you know your little brother’s overall tastes, but it’s easy to get distracted when deals abound – especially when under the watchful eye of plastic mannequins. Save yourself the hassle of feeling overwhelmed by narrowing down what you want to buy. Your credit card bill will thank you.

3. Patience

“It’s all hands on deck,” says McMichael of retail employees on Black Friday. To keep up with demand of holiday shoppers, few retailers allow their employees to take time off between Thanksgiving and New Years – and maybe beyond that to accommodate tourist traffic, McMichael says. Still, even when fully staffed, long lines at the checkout line are sometimes inevitable. So, remember the world doesn’t really revolve around you. Grab an Auntie Anne’s cookie, an Icee and chill out. After all, if you don’t get all your Christmas shopping done on Friday, there’s always Christmas Eve.

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