It takes a lot of stamina and a real hankering for a good
deal to brave the local mall or electronics store on Black Friday -- the day
after Thanksgiving.

Some may even say along the lines of running a marathon.

On what is traditionally the most crowded, frantic shopping
day of the year, retail spots open at ungodly early hours and offer
"doorbuster" bargains that last just a few hours or until supplies
run out.

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Lines generally stretch around the block depending on where
you live.

Most veterans complete reconnaissance the week before -- clutching
index cards with product codes, aisle numbers and maps of the store. Just as
those runners who've run the course before may do.

If you're planning to hit some of the midnight or
early-morning openings, bring Thanksgiving leftovers to nibble on or scope out
nearby coffee and snack shops beforehand and find out when they open (i.e.

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Many also plan ahead spending Thanksgiving highlighting
"attack points" , certain key products and clipping coupons for must
stop stores.

Dress in layers -- waiting outside can be cold at first, but
you'll warm up soon from the sheer number of people.

Keep your wallet in a fanny pack and take a large backpack
and collapsible dolly to stash purchases.

Get there early for a decent parking space -- crucial for
when you're unloading your haul -- and to score a prime space in line. Always get to the starting line in time
to get set to race. If you're rushing around and not ready-everyone will pass
you by on the way to the prize.

Check your race information website as well. and post ads in advance.

Not up to running the marathon with a group? well, many
stores offer discounts on Cyber Monday which falls on Dec. 1 this year.

(The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately
following Black Friday,
the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shopping season in
the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, "Cyber Monday" symbolizes a busy day for online retailers.
The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black
Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in
stores. Although that idea has not survived the test of time, Cyber Monday has
evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National
Retail Federation
's division, in which online retailers
offer low prices and promotions.)

Find a place on the starting line with fewer people that way
you can focus on your pace and not other people. Flock to a the less popular or
out of the way chain stores to lessen your crowd frustrations as well.

And definitely know your map. Know which way your turning and
where the finish line is. Get a map of all your stores and detail the quickest,
most efficient route to each.

And don't forget your water, gel-packs for instant energy
and asprin for those unexpected aches and pains.

Runners, I mean shoppers, take your mark!


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